Friday, March 23, 2012

The Wild Boar Pub, Stepaside, Dublin 18

Writing about restaurants is a pretty tough job. It takes some dedication, and a lot of my weekends involve planning for both lunch and dinner. Mind you, food blogging is not as hard as my real job, which has me visiting the US for yet another 3 weeks. It's tough being away from home and family for 3 weeks, compounded by the fact that an ocean separates you. The plus side, as a food blogger is getting to eat at a whole new range of restaurants.

Tonight, I found myself at the Cheesecake Factory. Love it, or hate it, the simple fact is that they do turn out decent, tasty food. Tonight, I ordered the beef burger, topped with sautéed mushrooms and melted cheese. Sounds simple, but the beef was juicy and tasty, cooked medium rare as requested, and those sautéed mushrooms turned out to be dark-skinned, wild mushrooms. This delicious burger, served in a restaurant that caters to literally thousands of people, got me thinking about a recent visit to a Dublin gastropub, where the burger was definitely not up to scratch.

The Wild Boar Pub shares premises with The Box Tree restuarant in the village of Stepaside. Both locations come from Eamonn O'Reilly, the chef behind of one Dublin's favourite restaurants, One Pico.  I visited The Box Tree for lunch before Christmas and enjoyed a very competent, well priced meal. Following that good experience, we had promised ourselves that we would return to this lovely venue for a more casual meal in the adjoining pub.

We returned on a cold & blustery February Saturday, when the pub was about half full. The  menu is simple, featuring variations on pub staples, along with a selection of soups and sandwiches. A chalkboard also lists some daily specials. I really like the clean, fresh look that runs throughout the Box Tree and Wild Boar. It's a pub alright, but with a really smart interior, and I especially liked the art deco style lamp shades.
Stitch and Bear - The lovely interior of the Wild Boar pub in Stepaside
The lovely clean interior of the Wild Boar pub
Himself chose the crispy fried chicken wings with blue cheese dip (€8.95), bulked up with a portion of skinny fries (€2.95). I chose the meatier option of the rib burger, aged Dubliner cheese with basil mayo, tomato relish and more skinny french fries (€13.95).
Stitch and Bear - Burger at the Wild Boar pub in Stepaside
Burger with Dubliner cheese, fries and tomato relish
Stitch and Bear - Crispy chicken wings at the Wild Boar pub in Stepaside
Crispy chicken wings with celery, blue cheese dip & fries
Presentation was quite attractive, with both dishes served on wooden boards, his plain and mine with an inset sheet of slate (I bet you that waiters are thankful for that). Sticks of celery stood to attention in a little holder next to the chicken wings, while the skinny fries came in little galvanised buckets.

But the dishes just failed to impress. The chicken wings had a nice crispiness, but no bite or spiciness. They tasted somewhat like they had been tossed in a sweet chili sauce from which the chili had long been departed. My burger had a dry, grainy texture, with the meat crumbling into small pieces as I cut it with my knife. There was no meaty juiciness and no flavour.

On the plus side, I did really enjoy the skinny fries. I'm sick to my back teeth of "chunky chips", particularly in establishments where thick solid wedges masquerade as chips. So well done to the Wild Boar for serving proper French fries. 

The Wild Boar has been feted as one of the new generation of gastropubs, but to be honest, I didn't find anything here that I couldn't find in any generic Irish pub. In a gastropub, I'd expect the burger to be epic, not dry and crumbly. I'd expect zingy American-standard wings, not their wishy-washy cousins. For me, the Wild Boar was a let down, particularly given the standard next door, where we could have enjoyed a two course lunch for not a lot more money (€18.95 each to be exact).

The Wild Boar Pub, Stepaside, Dublin 18
Tel: +353 (0)1 202 5208
URL: www.thewildboar.ie
Twitter: @TheWildBoarPub

1 comment:

JJ5000 said...

Your mention of the Cheesecake Factory reminded me of my last visit there when I tackled this giant-size burrito:

http://twitpic.com/4lc4z9

I somehow also managed to help tackle a starter and a desert before and after that burrito with help from the wif. The starter was some buffalo wings and the desert was, of course, cheesecake.