Food and Drink: Drury Buildings
Okay let's try something here. I'll throw out a few names and let's see what comes to mind. Here's one: Drury Buildings. Too hard? No, it's not a city-centre carpark, though it has for years immemorial been known as 'the AA building'. And yes, smarty pants down the back, it is one of Dublin's newest restaurant openings. Here's another - I say 'Fade Street', you say:
a) Buzzer bars where clubbing Dublin warmed up for or came down from the weekend's dancing way back around the turn of the last century.
b) Wannabe Dublin's Got Model-Talents faking reality in true car-crash TV style.
c) Irrepressible culinary hot-spot redefining the way Dublin understands the term 'social'.
Well done, you're all right. Fade Street ticks all of the above, and potentially a whole lot more. And much of that is down to one fella. His own name? Declan O'Regan, not to be confused with his brother, the late, great Hugh O'Regan whose dynasty of hostelries previously redefined how we eat, drink and make merry in Dublin. Declan has been busy building his own fiefdom, and he's kept it impressively local.
You'll know some of these names for sure. There's the perfunctory Hogan's Bar, the slippery l'Gueuleton, the cursory Kelly's Hotel and the omni-monickered No-Name Bar. The latest addition to this illustrious collection is perfectly positioned to lord it over the rest, not to over mention Fade Street itself, enjoying truly gorgeous views of the increasingly pedestrianised promenade from the first floor brasserie-style restaurant at the heart of its three-floor sprawl.
Drury Buildings opened doors in recent weeks with understated style. There's no concept-framing website. And the word is that the name above the glass door stays for now, but is subject to change as the place finds its feet.
So, what can you expect? Well, Declan's business partner is a clue. Ronán Rogerson is something of a legend in mixology terms.
Proper order then that Drury Buildings boasts one of the darn handsomest bars this town has seen in some time. And more importantly, a list of cocktails worthy of it. They've kept things focussed, with ten classics and ten signatures, and the promise that the list will change faster than we can drink our way through it. My 'Anejo Old-Fashioned' came with Patron Anejo Tequila sweetened with agave syrup, soured with grapefruit bitters and wrapped around one of the sexiest hunks of ice I've seen. Our food was being whipped up behind the bar too, under the steady watch of l'Gueuleton's head chef Warren Massey. We ate in the ground floor bar as the upstairs brasserie had not yet opened, but the aperitivo and antipasti offering gives a good glimpse of what will come elsewhere.
Top picks include fresh Dublin Bay prawns in a garlic butter and white wine sauce that managed to be both light and rich, and croquettes of smoked coley and tuna. Never mind that the smoked paprika seasoned the fish and not the aioli, as promised, nor that the aioli was more like a crème fraiche. These fish-packed mouthfuls were completely moreish. Also very good: bruschetta with smoky aubergine and a judicious slick of Gorgonzola. Plus crispy cubes of polenta topped with ratatouille and turbo-charged aged Parmesan. Less successful were the unshucked oysters, grilled and hidden beneath a suffocation of speck and lemon shallot butter. But hey, for a self-proclaimed work in progress, four out of five ain't bad.
Indeed, judging from the confident cooking and slick decor, the mostly charming (if sometimes rudderless) service and the killer cocktails and labyrinthian liquor list, not to mention the dapper barflies, Drury Buildings looks like a name worth watching. Should names be your thing, that is.
Typical dish: Smoked coley and tuna croquettes with smoked paprika
Recommended: Any of the cocktails, and whatever you fancy for soakage -- it's probably going to be good
The Damage: €67.70 for fodder for two, with sparkling water, Anejo Old-Fashioned cocktail, glass of Gruner Veltliner and nutty macchiato
On the Stereo: Duran Duran's Nile Rodgers-produced Wild Boys blasting us back to the '80s
At the Table: Fade Street veterans back on the rebound