Formerly known as Town Bar & Grill, the rebranded Town Kildare Street has changed more than its name; under new ownership the high profile city centre restaurant has repositioned itself as a ‘high-end casual’ brasserie.
The stylish subterranean décor hasn’t changed, so fans of the large, well spaced tables, oversized pendant lights, exposed brick, terracotta tiles and modern art will feel right at home.
The kitchen is now headed up by Cathal Leonard, former Head Chef at Chapter One, and Conor O’Dowd, ex Sous Chef at Locks Brasserie, and the new style menus offer a really appealing selection of brasserie dishes using carefully sourced seasonal Irish ingredients with lots of cheffy touches.
There’s no denying the creativity and skill on offer - this has the potential to be a memorable experience and there is some stand-out cooking, even if some dishes may need tweaking.
For example, although pricey at €12.50, a starter of Slow cooked Clongill Farm duck egg, with spinach purée, Gubbeen chorizo and crumbed is a true fine dining dish; beautifully executed, it’s sure to be a talking point, whereas an identically priced Truffled Fivemiletown goats cheese, with black olive breadcrumb and paint, homemade tomato ketchup, violet artichokes and mixed leaves seems unbalanced and may disappoint.
Seafood offerings are especially strong with showstoppers like John Dory with basil purée, violet artichoke, palourde clams and Noilly Prat sauce. Perfectly cooked, fresh fish, fabulous gnocchi brimming with flavour and delightful baby courgettes for crunch, it’s a memorable dish singing with gorgeous delicate flavours. Another dish with standout potential is Slow cooked salt marsh duck breast, which features some of the best ever duck – pink, juicy with superb flavour.
Desserts, perhaps a lip-smacking hazelnut praline parfait with poached apple, coffee tuile and chocolate sauce, or a rhubarb syllabub with stem ginger, crumbled shortbread and rhubarb sorbet, are also imaginative highlights.
There’s a good selection of wines by the glass and carafe, with a comprehensive wine list covering all price ranges, and service is professional although some returning customers may miss the warmth and charm that was such an imporant aspect of the original Town experience.
The à la carte menu is certainly expensive, but the pre-theatre dinner menu offers much better value and, while it only runs between 5.30 and 6.30, it is worth seeking out.