Himself surprised me a while back by telling me that he was taking us out for dinner. That's not the normal chain of command for us, but I was pleased by his choice of The Butcher Grill in Ranelagh. This relatively new venue promises the finest cuts of meat cooked over a wood smoked grill. It's part of the booming restaurant scene in Ranelagh and is a sister restaurant to Dillinger's further up the road.
First impressions of the restaurant are cosy. And not in a good way. They have packed in too many tables in this too small restaurant for it to be truly comfortable. We were seated at a table for 2, separated from the next table by 3 inches. in fact, when the couple occupying the table next to us arrived, we introduced ourselves to them. We figured that as we were going to be in each other's faces for the next period of time, that it would be rather rude not to become acquainted. We might have scared them a little.
Next to us, a table for 4 sat in the window bay, but one of the benches is more suitable for one person of wide girth rather than two more regular pilates-toned D4ites. In addition, the seats are high and narrow and you can never truly relax. Perhaps the pilates-regulars like this, as the required thigh clenching to keep you on your seat, means that you continue your fitness routine long after you've left the gym.
|At the Butcher Grill|
However, it was a lovely sunny Sunday evening, and the light was shining in the windows, putting the restaurant to best effect. The walls are tiled in while butcher tiles, featuring home ecconomics-style diagrams of meat cuts and joints. Wine is listed by the glass and bottle on the walls (although the prices per glass made me gasp a little). We had already decided in advance that we were going to have the Cote de Beouf (for 2 people, requiring 40 mins to cook), so we settled in with a basket of bread and good olive oil. I had chosen a fresh glass of Bovine I wine for €6 (better known as an Italian Falanghina) while himself ordered an old-fashioned cocktail as an aperitif (later pronounced to be good). When we later received the bill, this cocktail turned out to cost a gobsmacking €10.
Our starters arrived quickly, himself having the Tuna Carpaccio and me going for the caesar salad with grilled prawns. The carpaccio featured two large thin slices of tuna, served on flasky tortillas with a mexican-style avocado salsa. It was a generous starter, and tasty. My salad featured a skewer of grilled, shelled prawns, served with heads on. It seemed as if they had been flavoured with paprika and the delicious juices were mingling with the dressing on the salad. One complain here is that I never received a bowl of lemon water to clean my hands, as gettings the prawns off the skewer and de-heading was a juicy business. However, the end result was delicious.
|Grilled prawn Caesar salad|
We had ordered our Cote de Bouef rare and we were pleasantly surprised when it arrived quickly at the table. Granted, we had arrived at a quiet time in the restaurant's evening service, and as the place filled up, service definitely appeared to slow down. The steak came served on a wooden board, oozing juices and with a knob of garlic butter and thick sage onion rings resting on top. Smoky beans come as a standard side, which we complimented with french fries at €4 (served in the ubiquitous bucket). If you're a meat-lover, then you won't be disappointed by the steak here. It was silky smooth in the middle, tasty and juicy, with a slightly smoked taste. It was the standard to which all steak restaurants should aspire, but at €50, it is not cheap.The smoky beans didn't do a whole lot for me and could well be left out from the dish.
|Cote de Boeuf for 2 with garlic butter and onion rings|
Service throughout was slightly erratic, and overly in-your-face-friendly at times. But that's kind of inevitable in these close quarters. The food was very good and I was really pleased with my glass of wine. But with a total bill in excess of €90 for two courses each and two drinks with one additional side (and a lot of thigh-clenching to stay on my seat), it's a bit too expensive for a casual dining experience.
The Butcher Grill, 92 Ranelagh Village, Dublin 6. (01) 498 1805