Monday, August 18, 2014

[Review] The Exchequer Wine Bar, Ranelagh, Dublin 6

I was pretty saddened when the Diep restaurant in Ranelagh closed. I loved their creamy, rich curries and would often stop there for a meal on my way home from my weekly commuter flight. A major kitchen fire in 2011 closed the restaurant, and that was the end of my late night curry jaunts. 

Disappointed as I was, I looked forward to a restaurant opening in Ranelagh, but surprisingly it took until 2014 for a new venture to reopen the doors at 19 Ranelagh. After all, Ranelagh is home to so many bustling restaurants, with an affluent clientele who like to live it large, accompanied by many many glasses of wine. The team behind the city centre Exchequer gastropub have clearly analysed the Ranaelgh demographics, with the result being the Exchequer Wine Bar. 

Personally, I really liked the remodeled interior, with lots of light pouring in at the rear of the room. Downstairs is a long bar lined with comfortable high stools and a mix of high and low tables. Upstairs is a lovely but small terraced area, which we checked out but declined due to the lack of space (even though it was only about 50% full). 
Inside the Exchequer Wine Bar
The Exchequer Wine Bar does offer cocktails, just like it's bigger brother in town, but we stuck to the wine list on this visit. As you would expect, there are plenty of wines available by the glass and bottle, with the added fun option of a mystery red to try out. Despite the good quality of the wines, a glass Saint Clair Pinot Noir (€9.90) for Himself and a glass of Daniel Chotard Sauvignon Blanc (€11) for me, I found the prices to be a little on the high side.
Wines by the glass… always good
The menu is a mix of casual eating options and several bigger main course. Essentially, it's somewhere between antipasti and tapas. Our first choice of the Spanish meat plate was not available, but we were extremely please with the Italian version (€16.95), featuring piles of San Danielle ham, coppa and Milano salami topped with large capers, pickles and toasts. A Spanish cheese plate (€14.95) held three large chunks of manchego, queso de tetilla and Valdeon along with fresh figs and fig chutney. 

All pretty decent so far, but things went a little south with the arrival of our next two courses. We chose a mixed selection of oysters, half tempura with pickled cucumber and half Asian style with chili, ginger, soy and cucumber (€13.95). Disappointingly, the oysters came on a half-melted bowl of ice, with the water slopping into the oysters, thus diluting the flavours. The much lauded house speciality of chorizo lollipops had been my first pick off the menu (€7.50), but I found them too heavy, especially when paired with the pata negra aoili. The heavy compressed ball of chorizo simply did not get a chance to cook enough, remaining slightly bitter and not releasing its characteristic smoky, oily flavours. I abandoned them half way through, preferring to have a decent night sleep rather than battle the inevitable consequences. 
Italian meat plate
Spanish cheese plate
Chorizo lollipops with pata negra aioli
Mixed selection of oysters
In perfect keeping with it's Ranelagh location, the Exchequer Wine Bar is perfectly poised and polished. After all, the Ranelagh-ati know their wine and foodstuffs and expect the best. There's even the added star attraction of knowing that rugby legend and co-owner Gordon D'Arcy may be spotted on the premises. But to be honest, my enthusiasm is slightly cooled by a somewhat pricey wine list and some simple execution errors. A simple rule of thumb with a new restaurant is to imagine yourself returning and we just couldn't see ourselves coming back for more tapas and wine. However, we did spot a tasty looking brunch menu on our way out, so never say never. 

The Exchequer Wine Bar, Ranelagh, Dublin 6
Tel: +353 (0)1 421 5780
URL: www.theexchequerwinebar.ie
Twitter: @theexchequer

Exchequer Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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