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!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

[Review] East Side Tavern, Leeson Street, Dublin 2

It's time for a Christmas review, and in the season of short days and long nights, what's more appropriate than Dublin's  newest gastropub? I'd been hearing quiet words about this new dining venture for the past few months, with the doors to the East Side Tavern finally opening in late November.  

The interior at Easat Side Taven (formerly the Tavern on the Green) has undergone a seismic shift. An eye-catching backlit tiered bar showcases an extensive collection of whiskeys and other spirits, while blackboards list a selection of cocktails and drinks. The atmosphere here is casual comfort with leather upholstered seats, exposed brickwork and a roaring fire in the open fireplace. Decor accents are provided by brass pieces and salvaged timber, making the interior feel both extremely contemporary and aged. Whoever was responsible for the design and fit out got this one spot on. 
The tiered bar at East Side Tavern
The comfortable interior at East Side Tavern

Niall O'Sullivan (formerly of Isabel's) is the Head Chef in the kitchen, and the menu bears his distinctive stamp. I dined twice during the month of December, once off the Express Lunch menu, while my other visit was from the a la carte lunch menu. I love the concept of the Express Lunch which offers two courses for €14 (or €16 with dessert). It's a great option for a business lunch or catchup with friends. After all, there are more than enough offices with well-paid workers in the vicinity to sustain this concept.

The Express Lunch starters are a choice of soup or salad, each of which changes regularly and is served quickly, while the main courses are delivered from the kitchen when ready. In our case, soup was a smooth butternut squash soup, with a salad of beetroot, whipped goats cheese and leaves. The portions aren't huge, but really, they're meant to satisfy you while waiting for the main course. Slow braised should of lamb ragu was served in a light broth with pillowy gnocchi and parmesan shavings. Beer battered fresh cod was served on a board, along with a freeform log pile of crispy triple cooked chips, tartar sauce and a delectable frozen pea mousse.
Beer battered fish and chips
Lamb ragu with gnocchi
On another visit, I chose the Fish of the Day, which was chargrilled salmon with Jerusalem artichoke risotto. I love it when salmon is served with a crispy skin, as was the case here, but the artichoke risotto was the true star on the plate. The earthy sweetness of the artichoke, along with naturally sweet parsnip crisps combined so well with the burnt notes of the chargrilled salmon. Dessert was a set custard flavoured with woodruff (also knowns as Wild Baby's Breath), imparting a sweet almost perfumed note. Apple sorbet and sorrel granita provided balance and crisp textures to the luxurious custard. 
Chargrilled salmon with Jerusalem artichoke risotto
Woodruff set custard
Obviously the East Side Tavern works really well as a restaurant, but how does it fare as a pub? Maybe it was the Christmas decorations and the warm lighting, but I didn't want to leave after our Express Lunch. Instead I wanted to settle in for the afternoon,with some nice drinks and company, and watch the daylight fade to winter dusk. 

For me, the East Side Tavern feels like the next evolution of the gastropub, smoothly combining the relaxed atmosphere of a pub with the refined food of a fine restaurant. Are you ready to cross over to the East Side?

East Side Tavern, 104-105 Leeson Street Lower, Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1 678 9529
Twitter: @eaststavern

East Sider Tavern on Urbanspoon

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