The Legal Eagle
An old favourite takes flight again with sizeable Sunday roasts and a great wine list
What’s the story with The Legal Eagle?
Despite a couple of stuttered mid-covid re-openings and a handful of popups, we’d started to worry The Legal Eagle might be destined to go down as one of the more high-profile pandemic casualties as its doors remained closed well into this year. But fear not, the once and future hot spot gastropub recently took flight again with a revamped menu and a return to its famed Sunday roast offering. Our Insiders are forever asking us where to get a really great feed of a Sunday lunch – could we have a new easy answer?
Where should we sit?
Nigh-on four years since the Eagle last opened its doors for any real length of time, stepping into its mahogany and exposed brick interior brings as much of a sense of nostalgia as the unmistakable smell of roast meat and veg in the air. If you’re looking for old reliable comforts, the heady whiff seems to say, you’ve come to the right place. The leather sofa seating lining the walls is where you want to find yourself here – there’s just not the same satisfaction of leaning back stuffed in a hard-backed wooden dining chair or, heaven forbid, a high stool.
What’s on the menu?
The revamped menu keeps the classic Irish gastropub vibe – all the lamb stew, coddle, and chowder you could want on the lunch menu – with a higher-end twist through its focus on meat and veg provenance and a tilt toward the western Mediterranean, especially across the smaller plates. Most of the dinner menu is available at Sunday lunchtime for those of us whose eyes are bigger than our bellies, with the large plates’ sides swapped out for all your typical trimmings.
You’ll be steered to snacks and small plates, if you’re so inclined, as your server advises it’s a twenty minute or so wait for the roasts – don’t mind if we do. Homemade crisps are a reliable favourite from plenty of prior visits and are like an embrace from an old friend, with the salty-sharp slap of bacon and cheese dust. Marinated Gordal olives are glistening with oil and gloriously meaty, generous in number and giant in size – there’s plenty here to keep a full table happy.
Conscious of the heaped plates of roast we’d passed en route to our table, we heroically held ourselves back from over-ordering and stuck to two of the more modest small plates. Pan con tomate pairs chewy, airy slices of house focaccia with salty, garlicky puréed tomato. The bread’s a delight, golden crust and soft, stretched crumb the perfect host for the tangy tomato, especially as alternating with olives and crisps we found the salt in it a little overbearing. The trio were each great in isolation, but all together left us a bit parched.
Seared tuna tostada might not quite fit the Sunday roast brief, but trust us here: this is a detour worth taking, and a fine showcase of the Eagle’s new lease of life. The crisp tortilla and firm-fleshed tuna make for a wildly satisfying small bite, with the sweetness of avocado puree and punch of pickled carrot and togarashi pepper making every morsel a moreish treat. Hold back a little focaccia to mop up every last blob of sriracha mayo, if you can.
And so to the main event, even with that hard act to follow. There are three choices for the classic roast plate, with whole-roasted fish and courgette options there to cater to pescetarian and veggie tastes – neither gets the full trimmings. The Black Angus striploin is two thin slices of rare beef just glistening with juices - it’s tender, fatty, flavourful stuff. Wafer-thin slicing gives the meat a texture we wouldn’t see lost to thicker cuts, but a third slice here wouldn’t go amiss.
Wood-fired half chicken feels more substantial by contrast with its meat oozing juice, and the black, blistered skin’s crackle – classic comfort food.
Root veg are the star of the show where sides are concerned, with slivers of honey-roast carrot and parsnip bringing sweet and earthy tones to the plate, and a carrot purée dissolving into the gravy for an endlessly rich sauce you’ll slather on every forkful. Stuffing and Yorkshire puds are spot-on in their simple satisfactions, but the roasties make for a disappointing damp squib with a softened crisp shell and over-dry interior that bear all the tell-tale signs of having been kept warm. There is no substitute for oven-fresh, and no sorrow like good spuds spoiled.
What are the drinks like?
A solid if smallish craft beer selection on draught should keep most happy, even if Guinness as the priciest pull here had us scratching our heads. We stuck with the similarly small and serviceable list of wines by the glass – the light acidity of the Azevedo Alvarino was a welcome balm from the mouth-puckering saltiness of those first few plates, while the Coquard Beaujolais 69’s red fruits and low tannins came to life with the beef.
The top tip here is to bring some friends and dive into the bottles, an unusually exciting list for a pub, and one running lower margins than some of the competition around town on standouts like Preisinger's 'Puszta Libre' and Ponce's 'Reto'.
How was the service?
Happy and helpful – that little nudge on small plates feels more like a friendly FYI than an opportunity to upsell, and we really appreciated a little extra jug of gravy brought over to the table after the plates arrived, “so you don’t have to ask in a minute”. You’ll be well looked after here, but note they expect to be busy on Sundays so table times are kept strictly at a two-hour turnaround – no latecomers or lingering.
And the damage?
€115 for two each of snacks, small plates, roasts and a glass of wine with 10% tip automatically added. There is more than enough here in the main event to sate you, especially for lunch, so in and around €30 a head is more like what you can expect if not drinking. As Sunday roast prices around the city go, it's on the higher side - their beef roast is €27 in comparison to FX Buckley at €22.50, Hawksmoor at €23, and The Old Spot at €28.
What’s the verdict on The Legal Eagle?
Every bit a return to form, The Legal Eagle has landed again with a welcome mix of old favourites and new flutters that should satisfy fans of yore and newcomers alike. If there’s an occasional slight touch of the production line to things here, it’s one easily forgiven in the high calibre food and great value wine on offer. Taken together with the warm, welcoming vibe of the staff and space here, there’s all the makings of a classically comforting Sunday lunch. Except the roasties.