Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dax Cafe & Bar

Dax restaurant is long-established in the inventory of fine Dublin dining. More recently, the team behind this beloved establishment have opened a French-style cafe and bar on the ground floor above the restaurant, overlooking the Georgian elegance of Dublin's Upper Pembroke Street. 

Open from breakfast onwards, Dax Cafe offers breakfast, lunch tapas along with an extensive selection of wines and beers. I really appreciate restaurants and venues that work with the features of the building they inhabit, and Dax Cafe is no exception. The elegance of the Georgian hallway makes a perfect entrance to the cafe, and once inside you can choose a table at one of the sash windows or else opt for a dark leather sofa and a spot of lounging. Dax Cafe is that dangerous beast - perfectly chic and very comfortable. You could get caught very easily here on a Friday evening when out for after-work drinks.

And so it was with us. Three of us arrived a little late on a Friday evening and decided to choose a selection of tapas along with a bottle of house white wine (covered by a voucher purchased from Boards Deals). The wine turned out to be a 2009 Vin de Pays de la Loire (Lombeline - 100% Sauvignon Blanc) which was listed at a price of €26. It was a light, citrussy white, perfect for a summer's evening. Our deal covered 2 cold and 2 hot tapas (with a €2 supplement for the hot pork and salmon options, although this was not mentioned in the T&Cs of the voucher).

We chose the salmon tartar with rocket salad (€7.50) as well as the chicken salad served with homemade blinis (€6.50) for our cold tapas. These arrived quickly at our table, served on the omnipresent slate plates that are in fashion right now. We received three little timbales of salmon tartar, succulent and juicy with a light dressed set of leaves. The chicken salad featured little pieces of marinated chicken in a tasty dressing with rocket leaves.

For hot tapas we ordered the Clams & Chorizo (€8.50) as well as the Pork Fillet stuffed with Chorizo and served with Fava Beans (€10.50). The clams were the star of the show for me. They were so fresh, with a lovely taste of the sea that shone through the spicy, salty broth in which they were served. I found myself sucking on the shells, eager to enjoy every last drop of their marine goodness.

Clams & Chorizo
The pork fillet came served on a slate plate in three pieces on top of a scattering of bright green beans.. As I cut into one, I realised that it was served pink in the middle - a very confident step when it comes to pork. It was succently juicy with bags of flavour, while the fava beans gave a crunchy contrast.

Pork Fillet stuffed with Chorizo & Fava Beans
As there were 3 of us, the 4 tapas didn't go very far, so we also ordered the delicatessen plate, (€14) which arrived full of top-quality meats served with pickles and olives. Served on the side was some amazing french bread. I'd love to know where Dax source their bread, as this was manna from heaven - soft and crusty with a buttery sweet taste.
DAX Delicatessen Platter
To finish the meal we decided to order a cheese platter (€15), which featured a selection of French and Irish cheeses. The cheeses are cut from a cheese trolley located in the corner of the room. When the waiter lifted the lid of the trolley, the room filled with the pungent aroma of Epoisse. When the platter arrived at the table, the waiter took the time to walk us through the rows of cheese, explaining the best order in which to enjoy the selection. I was delighted to see Coolea cheese featured (a local cheese from home) and more pleased to see that it was the mature version which has a lovely nutty taste. The cheeseboard came piled with fruity toast crisps and grapes.
DAX Mature Cheese Platter
We decided to push the boat out and finish our meal with some dessert wine. I chose the Jurançon "Cuvée Jean" 2008 purely on the basis that it was listed as 100% Petit Manseng, which I couldn't recall tasting before. It turned out to be truly exquisite, with a fabuluous honeyed fruit taste that lingered well. For wine of its quality, I thought that it was well priced at €7.50 a glass.

I was highly impressed by the quality and panache of the food at Dax Cafe. It is confident and poised cooking, with superb flavours. However, on the negative, I did think that some of the tapas were on the small side and I really do wish that they all didn't come served on slate plates. It makes it hard to mop up the juices and scrape up those last delicious bits. One last gripe before I finish up, Dax don't offer a cheese and meat platter, but instead do cheese and meat platters separately. Personally I like platters that combine both, so Dax, please take note.

Total cost for all this (including the deduction from our voucher) and including some additional beers was approximately €75.In conclusion, it's not a cheap tapas bar. But it is elegant, relaxed and very high quality. There are still plenty of people left in Ireland with this amount of money to spend on food, but these days they tend only to spend it on quality. I think Dax Cafe & Bar meets that mark.

Dax Cafe & Bar, 23 Upper Pembroke Street, Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1 662 9381

1 comment

  1. I have to agree with you regarding 'slate plates'. Most foods don't look very appetising on a dark backgound. Also it must also be difficult for staff trying to clear tables of slate dishes.
    Let's hope that the fashion for plain plates returns soon.


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