22–24 Donnybrook Road
Tel: 01 2028585 www.rocklobster.ie
Rock on with the massive lobster dinner
The boy and I are walking to Rock Lobster, the new steak and lobster restaurant that has just opened in Donnybrook. It's a Sunday night and as we're walking, heads bent against the bitter cold and the sleety rain, the boy says his trousers are feeling a bit strange. Strange how?
Their texture has changed. He goes on to explain how they have not been the same since they made their way through an easy-care wash cycle the previous week. The boy's approach to clothing is purely functional and he has an ideological aversion to ironing things. Reading a care instruction label on a pair of trousers is anathema.
He owns only one pair of shoes, and by shoes I mean runners. He wears one item of clothing until it is completely worn out and then – and only then – he buys a new item and repeats the process.
He recently caused controversy at a family funeral by not owning a proper overcoat or any formal black clothing. You get the picture.
He is a destroyer of clothes, so I'm not too surprised to hear he's mangled a pair of trousers in a spin cycle. The confusing part is how, because as far as I know, he only wears denim, which is one of nature's indestructible materials. I look down and notice his wrinkled, scrunched-up trousers are clinging to his shins in a most unconventional way.
On closer inspection, I realise these trousers are the now-unrecognizable bottom half of an expensive blue suit. The suit emerged for the aforementioned funeral and it seems he took a liking to the trousers.
"Did you put those trousers in the washing machine?" I ask him.
He is silent. He instinctively knows, in the same way that a puppy who has left a present in your favourite pair of shoes knows, that he has done something wrong without meaning to. I tell him to keep his legs hidden as best he can and we might still be able to gain access to the restaurant.
Luckily, Rock Lobster is dimly lit, so we are not turned away for looking like hobos.
The restaurant is above the popular rugby pub Kiely's, and it's been many restaurants before, most recently Yo'Thai, a teppanyaki place full of dancing Elvis impersonators and juggling chefs. The restaurant has had a total facelift and has been tastefully redone in dark wood and leather, with magnolia walls.
There is a bright red mural of a cow, with the various beef cuts demarcated.
The restaurant is open plan and loosely split in two, with the cocktail and piano bar at one end and the restaurant at the other. At the top of the stairs is a tank full of lobsters creeping around, waiting to be dinner.
The waitress leads us to a table by a radiator, which instantly makes us feel cosseted and grateful. Our window overlooks the giant Christmas tree on the street opposite and the twinkling lights and the rain outside enhances the welcoming atmosphere inside.
We have a cocktail to disperse the trouser tension. I have a Greyhound, a grapefruit and vodka cocktail which looks incredibly pretty with decorative flourishes and sprigs on top and tastes just as good. The boy has an Old Fashioned, a classy number to compensate for his unclassy breeches.
The menu is small but comprehensive.
It starts with 'titbits', which include the intriguingly named piggy puffs, posh fishfingers and a goat's cheese cigar. These are three for €10 and are probably targeted at those who want to sit at the bar and have a cocktail or two. Then there are the starters, lobster mains, beef mains, raw seafood options and desserts.
It sounds like an extensive menu but it's all kept to one page and is easy to navigate.
I'm a bit excited about Rock Lobster, mainly because I love seafood.
The starters are all very appealing, with real thought put into them. The boy goes for the fried duck egg with flaked lobster and sea greens (€8.90), which looks (and is) amazing.
I have extreme food envy and sullenly order the potted brown shrimp (€8.30), which comes in a cute little jar and is very tasty. I am appeased.
For mains, we stick to lobster as it would be a shame not to try the headline food of the restaurant. The boy orders the whole split lobster (which is a bargain at €20).
I am momentarily tempted by their 1kg 55-day Porterhouse steak, which is the talk of the town, but I know when to admit defeat in the face of a giant steak (this one is for two people), so I order the other lobster option instead, the traditional Maine lobster roll (€20).
When our food arrives I am incandescent with food envy. He has a giant lobster split in half with shoestring fries and I have what is essentially a lobster sandwich. Never order the roll over the whole split lobster. You will feel cheated. Still, I have to concede, even though I balk at eating a bread roll for dinner, the lobster tastes fantastic and the boy scrapes every little bit of meat he can out of the lobster shell.
We try another cocktail. He has a Giant Mojito, which is a solid remake of the classic, although perhaps a little bitter and I have a Lemongrass Collins, which is disappointingly overwhelmed by the vanilla sugar in it, and thus too sweet for my taste.
All in all, Rock Lobster is a very welcome new spot for excellent value steak and lobster.
The only thing that feels neglected is the very staid dessert menu (we share a decent apple crumble, €6.50). That, and the music. If you're going to call your restaurant after a B-52s song, don't play Norah Jones all night. You might as well buy an expensive suit and then throw it in the washing machine.
The Damage: €91.70 for two starters, two mains, one dessert and four cocktails
Recommended: Whole split lobster can't be beat
At Table: Donnybrook locals
On The Stereo: Norah Jones live