A gastropub that counts rabbit, guinea fowl and raie au beurre noir (skate with black butter sauce), among its offerings, has to be a great addition to any neighbourhood. Too often, there is a distinct lack of imagination in mid-priced eateries. For instance, I like hake, but it's on every menu in the country now, in some guise. Yawn. As for pulled pork and beef cheeks . . .
Anyway, the D4 village of Sandymount, which is a tad short on the eatery scene, has had the addition of Brickfield Town within the confines of its popular rugby pub, Mulligans of Sandymount. They had been doing pub grub, but now they have really ramped it up. A fair few bob has been spent creating a clubby, brasserie-style restaurant, with dark-wood panelling, parquet flooring and leather chairs.
Attention to detail is there too, with decent cutlery, napkins, water decanters and the like. Denis Massey, formerly of Kevin Arundel's super successful Chop House on Shelbourne Road, acted as a consultant in the set-up process. (Massey is also doing the food - of which I hear good reports - at the Front Lounge on Parliament Street).
We were greeted by a young woman who gave us our choice of table. We were first in and toute seule. Brendan ordered a pint of Arthur, as we got settled. With the rugger buggers being a big part of the scene here, they must be over the moon with the choice of high-end fillets - "Kansas City Strip bone-in striploins", rib-eyes, veal striploins and rumps of Wicklow lamb, ranging from €26-€29, including sides and sauces.
There is also a cote du boeuf for two people sharing, at €55. The early service was a bit slipshod and, with no sign of Brendan's pint arriving, we caught the eye of the same waitress, as she passed through, bringing plates of food to the bar area, but she still didn't come back to us!
Thankfully, an enthusiastic, friendly woman appeared and, ordering a bottle of Domaine des Lauriers Picpoul de Pinet 2013 (€28), we asked that the pint be cancelled. She smartly brought us an amuse bouche: a chicken liver pate appetiser, in a little Kilner jar, along with rich brown bread.
Brendan was taken with the early evening menu, with two/three courses at €23/€27. He kicked off with warm potato and oak-smoked salmon 'upside down' blini. This proved quite a substantial starter, with the blini and salmon topped with creme fraiche, and glistening red globules of Keta caviar sitting in a watercress veloute.
Starters, on the a la carte menu (€6-€14.50), included wild mushroom and truffle tortellini; and seared king scallops with Jerusalem artichoke and seaweed butter. I had the French bistro stalwart of duck rillettes (€9.50). They were prettily presented with pear and ginger chutney, which also tasted good.
Brendan continued with an excellent, moist lamb burger, accompanied by aubergine and fries, which, again, he really enjoyed. I felt somewhat spoiled for choice in the mains selection (€14.50-€26) which had maple-glazed breast of guinea fowl with truffle mash; stuffed loin of rabbit and foie gras; and roast fillet of sea bream.
I had another favourite, the aforementioned raie au beurre noir (€19.50), which was perfect all round. It had no sogginess, retained a little bite, had lots of capers, and came with halved new potatoes and a green salad with radish wafers.
Puds included white chocolate panna cotta with raspberry and biscotti; warm chocolate fondant with vanilla cream; or an Irish artisan cheeseboard with pear chutney, but we didn't indulge. So, with service, which was excellent after the initial slow kick-off, our bill came to €87.50.
This is what gastropub grub is supposed to be about, not the fast-food fare that's palmed off in many places. They just need to make sure they have a few more enthusiastic wait staff who are on the ball, and not kicking it to the sideline!
Mulligans of Sandymount,
86 Sandymount Road, Sandymount, Dublin 4
Tel: (01) 660-2061
Main Street, Dingle, Co Kerry.
Tel: (066) 915-1277
Style: John Moriarty is celebrating 25 years of his famous Lord Baker's. Set in Dingle's oldest licensed premises, you can be sure of delicious seafood
Price: Mains €19.50 - €29.00
Try: Poached wild Atlantic salmon with a white wine cream sauce, €26
Drinks: Full Bar. Wines from €26
Cloghroe, Blarney, Co Cork.
Tel: (021) 438-1470
Style: The Blair family are passionate about the food they serve. Specialising in seafood and steaks, they also offer excellent traditional-Irish dishes
Price: Mains €14.95-€28.50
Try: Hearty casserole of Irish beef in a rich Black Rock Stout sauce, €14.95
Drinks: Full bar. Extensive craft beer and wine lists
2 The Mall, Waterford.
Tel: (051) 583-000
Style: Old-world, 'granny's parlour'-style gastropub with stripped floorboards and quaint old tables. Menu ranges from crabmeat sandwiches and scallop salads, to big burgers and scampi
Price: Mains €11-€22
Try: Strongbow's Seafood Platter - oysters, mussels, smoked salmon, poached fresh salmon, dressed white crabmeat, home-made Guinness brown bread, €22
Drinks: Craft beer/whiskey tasting boards. Wine from €21
Sunday Indo Life Magazine