Eating out: Lucinda O'Sullivan at Drury Buildings
The staff were friendly and professional, and the food impressed, but Lucinda O'Sullivan was left a bit underwhelmed after she and a friend visited the Drury Buildings for a spot of dinner
An orchestra without a conductor, a ship without a captain, a circus without a ringmaster. It felt a little bit like that at the new Drury Buildings on our midweek visit for dinner.
It's a massive building, which you can't miss because it's covered in graffiti. It's also the latest addition to the stable of Declan O'Regan, of Hogans Bar, Kelly's Hotel and L'Gueuleton, which, when it first opened, had people queuing out the door. Now the whole area is awash with restaurant upon restaurant – each trying to be more hip than the other.
While L'Gueuleton is French bistro in style, Drury Buildings is more urban cool and Milan-on-the-Liffey, with brick walls meeting white plaster and chic tan leather.
The ground-floor bar serves a bites menu, while upstairs is the restaurant per se. It's a big space divided by a double-sided banquette arrangement that runs down the room.
On arrival, everyone was seated in the front area by the windows, but the section we encountered first was completely empty.
We were offered a choice of two tables – one by big radiators, the other separated on the banquette from a group of six loud women.
"Could we sit over there?" I asked, pointing to an alcove with two tables. "It's small," said the waiter, "and I'm not seating anyone in that area."
Having roasted at the radiators for 10 minutes, we moved to the only other seat and became a virtual extension to the girls' party.
My friend, Mary, had a citified view of the Fade Street skyline, while I was faced with the vast expanse of an empty room.
It made me wonder why, when I had called up to book a table for 7.30pm, the girl who answered the phone tried to get me to come at 7pm. When I asked why, she had said it was because of their "sittings". I don't know why this push was on because the restaurant was less than half full when we were there.
But, even with that, you got the feeling that they were really stretched. There were only two staff on the floor, although both were very pleasant, knew their stuff, and were doing their best. The same thought struck us about the kitchen, as our starters took an age.
With no early-bird or value menus, starters were €9.50-€13.50, apart from soup at €7.90, and included a couple of charcuterie-based dishes – bresaola and coppa di testa – at the rather testing prices of €12 and €12.50.
Mary's rabbit, sage and apricot terrine (€10.50) was excellent, dotted with green olives, gherkins, micro leaves, and Muscat grape chutney.
Rope mussels and Palourde clams pinot grigio, with garlic gremolata, at €10.50, were OK, but more shell than anything else. The gremolata was finger-licking tasty, but the dish was just too dry. If we hadn't already waited so long, I might have returned it to the kitchen for a lash of pinot grigio to wet my whistle and dunk the bread.
Mains, for between €16 and €32, included Wicklow wood pigeon saltimbocca; pheasant with Barolo tagliatelle; and ossobuco with risotto. Fritto misto (€22.50) of fried whitebait, Dublin Bay prawns and squid topped with a large langoustine, and served with squid ink aioli and a little bowl of cavolo nero, beets and pommes Parmentier, looked the business.
Medallions of beef fillet (€26.50) were two good tranches of fillet atop a Jerusalem artichoke and porcini gratin – with an ocean of Chianti jus. All good.
Blood orange and Campari cake, with chocolate and orange ice cream (€8), attracted straight away, but I'd have loved a shot of Campari over it. The tiramisu (€8), meanwhile, was light as air and beautifully presented.
With a bottle of Falanghina Del Sannio DOP (€30), and service, our bill was €133.50.
There was some nice food, but, at these prices, you need to come away with more than a feeling that you were thrown in a room with a couple of people running around doing their best.
- Drury Buildings, 52-55 Drury Street, Dublin 2.
- Tel: (01) 960-2095
Sunday Indo Life Magazine