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!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

[Review] The Legal Eagle, Chancery Place, Dublin 7

The Legal Eagle pub on Chancery Place, next to the historic Four Courts and beloved of solicitors, barristers and court attendees, had stood empty since 2012. It was acquired by Brian Montague and his business parter Elaine Murphy in 2014, but work on their other projects The Woollen Mills and The Washerwoman took precedence, delaying the opening until just recently. Was it worth the wait?

Every part of the overhauled Legal Eagle speaks in muted but confident tones. (In fact, just like the kind of solicitor or barrister you want to represent you should you ever find yourself appearing before the courts). A solemn and decorous dark green exterior with touches of gilding gives way to the spruced up interior. The general layout is true to the original, but now smart high backed leather stools line up alongside the bar, while exposed red brickwork and assorted copper vessels gently warm the walls. It's smart and modern, yet feels so comfortable and barlike.
Homemade pickled eggs
The menu is one of the most creative and tempting that I've seen in quite a while. Bar snacks include homemade crisps, pickled eggs, pork scratchings and even the fixings for a crisp sandwich. We order three pickled eggs, one each of jalapeño, mustard and beetroot, to sate our curiosity about this much-maligned bar snack. They're all delicious, with the jalapeño version pronounced a clear winner.

A favourite dish of mine anytime I'm in Paris is roasted bone marrow. I adore the rich unctuousness of the melted interior, topped with a little pinch of sea salt. The Legal Eagle take it to another complete level with the addition of equally rich braised oxtail and gorgeous Gaelic Escargots (€12). Across the table, a delicious twice-baked Shropshire Blue souffle (€12) provides a restrained contrast to the indulgent bone marrow. I love the apple sauce, but could without the big wedge of pecan-encrusted pear whose texture was too heavy for the souffle.
Roasted bone marrow with oxtail, Gaelic Escargots, capers and watercress
Twice-baked Shropshire Blue souffle
The Legal Eagle has a very tempting selection of Irish potato flatbreads, but we skip these in favour of even more tempting mains. A pie of melty cheese, caramelised onions and potato comes with a perfect lid of golden short pastry which lifts cleanly off to reveal the steaming contents (€18). For me, a classic slip sole is perfectly cooked and served with delectable beurre noisette, smoked almonds and grapes (€22). It's firm proof that classic fish dishes deserve their place on menus. Both dishes come with herby floury spuds from Castleruddery and bitter greens and I thoroughly enjoyed using my spuds to mop up the beurre noisette.
Melty cheese, caramelised onion and potato pie
At this stage, we're feeling pretty full, but the fun, retro-inspired desserts draw us in. A slice of treacle tart is creamily smooth and precise (€6), while a Baked Alaska is pimped out with jam and peanut butter lurking underneath the golden piped meringue dome (€7). 
Treacle tart
The Legal Eagle serves the kind of food that I could easily dream about, the kind of food that wraps you in big comfy hugs and pats you reassuringly on the back. But what about the drink? After all, it's a gastropub, and that means you should be able to enjoy a good wine or beer alongside your meal.

Just like the menu, the wine list is impressive and exciting. The Legal Eagle is standing proud and tall with a varied selection that crosses many styles and geographies. It's also fairly hefty by modern standards, with over 200 bottles listed. In addition to wine, craft beer features strongly with draft, bottles and cans all available. Knowledgeable staff are on hand to advise. and himself is recommended to try a pint of Monto red ale from the local 5 Lamps brewery.

It's funny that we've never fully adopted the gastropub style of dining that is so beloved of our English neighbours. We have a few decent efforts in Dublin and around the country, but good versions are sparse enough on the ground. The Legal Eagle is an absolute belter gastropub, a great addition to high quality, relaxed dining in Dublin. 

The Legal Eagle, 1-2 Chancery Place, Dublin 7
Tel: + 353 (0)1 555 2971
URL: thelegaleagle.ie
Twitter: @TheLegalEagle2
Instagram: @thelegaleagledublin
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