A trip into town on a pre-Christmas Saturday is an experience to be both enjoyed and feared in equal measure. Shop windows are festooned with joyous cheer, while just inches away shoppers elbow and jostle each other in grim determination. Last Saturday, I had a single, sole, solitary item on my shopping list. All I needed were nude tights from Marks & Spencer, but even that small errand required nerves of steel. Eventually, I cleared the gauntlet of Grafton Street and headed for my lunch reservation at the newly opened Stanley's on Andrew Street.
The chic ground floor interior still feels a little unfinished, but to be fair, Stanley's was only a mere newborn still in soft opening mode, and I'm sure that the lovely brass fittings and mirror tiled wall will spring to life with some final touches. Downstairs is intended to be a wine bar, while upstairs will be home to a cosy dining room. Experienced Chef Stephen McArdle is the man behind this venture, ably assisted in front of house by his brother Patrick. These two gentlemen have a host of experience in the Irish restaurant industry and now they've taken on the challenge of a city centre restaurant.
The lunch menu is a clever mix of small and large plates. Crab cakes were crispy golden brown, full of lightly packed crab meat, served atop a corn pureé. I could see these working really well as a tasty bar snack accompanying a cold glass of crisp white wine. A salad of smoked trout with pickled cucumber and apple was a deftly balanced cool mix of fresh and sweet textures.
|Crab cakes with corn and paprika|
|Hot smoked trout with apple and pickled cucumber|
The daily pasta special was a modern interpretation of pappardelle with chorizo, mushrooms and chunks of chicken, with a little broth resting in the bottom of the bowl. Duck confit was a perfect winter dish with well-rendered crispy skin, roast root vegetables and smooth whipped potatoes.
|Pappardelle with chicken, chorizo and mushroom|
|Duck confit with whipped potatoes, shallot and parsnip|
What struck me as we finished lunch in Stanley's was its potential to become a perfect city centre lunch spot. Every dish was well assembled, satisfying and good value; approximately €7 for small plates and €14 for mains. There is a short but attractive wine list by the glass, from which we both really liked the superb Gruner Veltliner (a favourite of Ross Lewis apparently).
It's early days for Stanley's, but it's certainly promising. The McArdle brothers clearly love and enjoy their craft and their combination of quality modern Irish cuisine and a smart, modern interior is bound to appeal. Finally, don't leave without trying the Guinness & treacle brown bread!
Tel: +353 (0)1 485 3273