Once upon a time there was a restaurant in Hanover Quay called Riva. It opened an outpost in Rathgar but now neither restaurant survives. I recollect some reasonably good food in the HQ location, so I don't think that the cooking was the reason for closure. It just goes to show that restaurants can close for a multitude of reasons. The closure of the Rather venue however, gave Jonathon and Amanda Kirwan a chance to open their American-inspired Beckett & Bull eatery.
I've recently bought myself a bicycle, the first I've owned since I was a teenager. And I am having such fun with it. We've cycled to dinner, with a bottle of wine in my basket to take advantage of the BYOB policy at Seagrass. I've done short grocery runs to the shop, rather than taking the car out of the driveway. Even the looming presence of winter doesn't hugely deter me. It just feels so virtuous to cycle for brunch, and so we left our bicycles locked to a signpost outside Beckett & Bull.
First impressions are very good, as the small front space opens out into a long room with a sunlit area at the rear. A kitchen pass sits in the middle of the long room, giving clear visibility of the chefs at work. I loved the touches like the white butcher tiles and the recycling of a butcher block into a table top. Kitsch images hang on the walls, and the menus are printed with suitably hip fonts and typesetting. Even the logo image of a horned man with a cigarette hanging from a manly square mouth is infinitely cool.
|The interior at Beckett & Bull|
|I want this so much - Wonder Woman!!|
This review is based on two visits to Beckett & Bull for brunch. On our first visit, we found the service to be painfully slow, but things went much more smoothly second time round. On both occasions, Himself ordered the Short Stack of pancakes with eggs, crispy bacon and maple syrup (€9.00). You simply couldn't get more Apple Pie than this.
|Short stack with eggs, crispy bacon and eggs|
On my first visit, I went for the Smokies, which is essentially a smoky fish gratin (€13.00). Served with a choice of house salad or chunky fries, this is pure comfort food. I'm already looking forward to ordering this on cold, winter weekends.
|Smokies with salad and fries|
On our latest visit, I decided to challenge my love/hate relationship with eggs by ordering the Green Eggs & Ham (€12.00). There were no Dr. Seuss antics here, but deliciously soft and creamy scrambled eggs, flavoured with pesto. Two thick gammon steaks and a fantastic slice of grilled pineapples meant that this plate was substantial eating. I'll just have to hate eggs another day, as these green eggs were some of the best that I've ever eaten.
|Green eggs, ham, grilled pineapple and salad|
What's puzzling about Beckett & Bull is how relatively little coverage it has had to date. It's cool, the atmosphere is relaxed and there is (mainly) cool music on the stereo. There are nice touches that indicate a level of care. On our first visit, the staff had the good sense to put all parties with children in the bright rear space, leaving the darker tables to the thankful sore heads of the childless diners. My only petty gripe is the large, fat wedges that are labelled "fries"on the menu. They are excellently cooked, but people, ultimately a spade is a spade.
Beckett & Bull is exactly what every neighbourhood needs - a friendly, casual dining experience. I'm left with just one question. What was the inspiration behind the cool name and logo? I hope that there is a suitably cool answer.
Beckett & Bull, 53 Rathgar Avenue, Dublin 6
Tel: + 353 (0)1 498 0011