Eating out: Lucinda O'Sullivan at 8A Brasserie, Monkstown
8A Brasserie is a friendly spot, with good food and impressive service
Having now lived for many years in Monkstown, County Dublin, I remember when number 8A Monkstown Crescent was Coopers – which was one of a chain of popular bistro/brasserie-style restaurants around the capital. In the intervening years, this location has been a Thai (twice), an Indian and a Filipino restaurant, and has just been opened again by a husband and wife team, who worked, originally, in Coopers in Sandyford and Monkstown, respectively. They have simply called it 8A Brasserie.
I have also lived in Monkstown long enough to have seen the Crescent go from being a hot dining spot down into the doldrums, to return, yet again, in the past couple of years, to being hotter than ever for both dining and shopping.
With Seapoint Fish & Grill, FX Buckley, Salt at Avoca, The Purty Kitchen, Cafe du Journal, That's Amore, La Dolce Vita and the Victoria and Amerta Chinese restaurants in the area, you do have to ask is there room for another restaurant, unless it is a very different offering.
8A certainly piqued the interest of the Monkstown denizens, and was pretty packed as we arrived in on a Sunday evening, to be seated in the back of the restaurant beside a staircase, facing the pass, and eyeball-to-eyeball with the chef. "We want to create the sort of buzz Coopers had many years ago," said the owner as we sat down.
The menu contains a lot of popular stalwarts, with starters (€6-€9.50) including French onion soup and slow-cooked, maple-glazed ribs with roast pepper and onion slaw. Little Milk Company organic Brie is served on grilled sourdough with beetroot shavings, rocket and home-made redcurrant jam, while rope mussels are steamed in roast garlic and parsley butter.
Brendan had two quenelles of soft duck pate (€9) with dressed rocket on toasted Arun Bakery bread and sweet tomato chutney. It may be a retro favourite, but it was as tasty as ever. Chipotle prawn taco (€9.50) for me was a taco "bowl" filled with seared king prawns and served with an avocado salsa – all pleasant stuff. Mains (€17-€29) included organic salmon with buttered kale, griddle potato and salsa verde, while chargrilled chicken supreme was on a parsnip mash with smoked pancetta and wild mushroom jus. Crisp hake fillet with crushed baby potato and a Clogherhead prawn bisque appealed, but they had run out of that, as they had of the tempura fish 'n' chips with minted pea puree, which tends to be a favourite of Brendan's. It's understandable, too, on a Sunday night.
We did, however, wonder why the fish and chips were priced at €23, when excellent fish and chips are available in other local restaurants from €14.95 to €16.50.
In the event, I had a very nice, classic, French-style Silverhill duck (€22), the breast sliced and laid on a shallot and mung bean ragout, the confit leg resting beside two tranches of fondant potato. Brendan went with a sirloin steak (€24) topped with delicious, crispy onion strings and fries, which was very good all round. A fillet steak, at €29, was also available, but neither showed the weight – which I think people expect to see on a menu. The trencherman wants to know what he is going to get his chops around!
We finished up with a slice of zesty citrus tart topped with blueberry ice cream for me, and Burke's Toblerone and coffee ice creams for himself. Both delicious at €6.50 a pop.
The wine selection is compact with, perhaps, eight whites and eight reds, and, with a bottle of deep, rich Fantini Sangiovese 2012 (€28), our bill, with optional service, which was excellent, came to €115.50.
We liked 8A, and I think it's a friendly, handy place, but I do think they need to widen their mains under €20 to more than a chicken supreme or a risotto dish – there is so much competition.
8A Monkstown Crescent,
Tel: (01) 284-3309
Sunday Indo Life Magazine