So, can Marc and Conor Bereen buck the trend with their new Charlotte Quay restaurant? They do know what Dublin likes to eat, given the strong success of their other popular locations Coppinger Row and the South William. Under Conor and Marc, Charlotte Quay has received a significant overhaul. Gone is the light and bright interior of Mourne Seafood, replaced by marble countertops, chic fittings and moodier, darker lighting. There's a smart little cocktail bar where you can sip a drink while waiting, but where we struggled to hear each other due to the high ambient noise levels. My Flo and basy gin-based cocktail (€12) was light, tinged with elderflower and bright basil, but just a touch cloyingly sweet.
|Flo and basy cocktail|
The menu is broadly Mediterranean, like Coppinger Row, but with a definite detour towards the Middle East. Think Ottolenghi with ingredients like za'atar, labneh, harissa, cousous and bulgur wheat. Chef Killian Durkin, formerly of La Mere Zou, is the man in charge of the kitchen and it's his job to deliver on this delicious promise. The menu is mostly a mix of small plates, designed for "convivial eating", with one or two big ticket items for those who want something more substantial.
Pan-fried chicken livers with berbere, a spice mix from Ethiopia and Eritrea, crisp chicken skin and little mushrooms (€8) was so richly good, I cleaned the plate with my finger. Toonsbridge halloumi from West Cork was pan-fried to an achingly soft texture and served with sweet butternut squash puree, pomegranate and tangy za'atar (€10). We were off to an absolutely stellar start.
|Chicken livers with berbere spice and crisp skin|
|Toonsbrdige halloumi with squash, pomegranate and za'atar|
The magnificent start faltered though with the next course of dishes. My order arrived at the table, but there was no sign of His dish. Cue confused looks from the server, followed by a confab with the server who originally took our order, only to reveal that his halibut choice hadn't even been entered into the system. Apologies followed, and my dishes were taken away with a promise to return with freshly cooked versions once His fish was ready. As the halibut would take some time to cook, we were offered another dish while waiting. To summarise, a right mess was made of placing our order, but top marks for the manner in which it was handled.
Charred tenderestem broccoli, wonderful roast almond hummus and a crispy hen's egg turned out to be another dish requiring finger clearing (€8). Together, the broccoli and halloumi dishes are the kind that make vegetarian eating an easy, delicious choice. Dexter beef tartar was served atop lavesh, a crispy unleavened flatbread, and served with dollops of sumac yogurt (€11). And finally, the long awaited confit halibut turned out to be very Jennifer Aniston. In other words, it was most definitely worth it, although it did carry a hefty price tag (€30) when compared with other dishes.
|Charred broccoli with roast almond hummus and crisp hen's egg|
|Confit halibut with orzo nero, fennel and cuttlefish|
|Dexter beef tartar with harissa, bulgar, sumac yogurt and lavash|
Foodwise, the Bereen brothers are onto an absolute winner in Charlotte Quay. The small plate dishes deliver one hundred percent on the flavour front. 3 dishes would make a decent dinner and will come in somewhere around the €30 mark. So not bad value either. Given that this restaurant has opened with clear intention, the service issues need to be sorted immediately. This location has seen off too many good restaurants already. There really isn't room to fail.
Aside from the fabulous food, the real key to success at Charlotte Quay is the location. An outdoor terrace has been added, but it's still somewhat open to the elements. If this was converted to a fully enclosable terrace (like the bar in Cork's River Lee Hotel), with the wonderful views of Grand Canal Dock, this could be one of the most magnificent dining and drinking spots in Dublin City.
Charlotte Quay, Millennium Tower, Charlotte Quay Dock, Dublin 4
Tel: +353 (0)1 908 9490