Croquetas, southside souvlaki, and "a dining experience like no other" - apparently. Here’s what’s new in Dublin this month...
Hellfire, Westmoreland Street
The bold promise of “a dining experience like no other” seems like a stretch when the main difference is a particular brand of charcoal oven, but we’re keeping an open mind on Hellfire, opening today on Westmoreland Street. Italian-born executive chef Roberto Rapisardi (who is also an ambassador for said ovens) has worked across Europe and North America, and his skills take centre-stage at a five-seater chef’s table at the heart of the site, which used to house Thai Orchid.
It's from the same owners as the Temple Bar Inn next door on Fleet Street (where Rapisardi was previously based), and Irish suppliers Higgins Family Butchers and Kish Fish are name-checked on their website. The meat-heavy menu goes all-in on demonic puns with it's "divine dishes" and "fiendish focaccias", but if you can past the gimmick there are some intriguing-sounding dishes, including 'Tacos Mignon' with charred beef, guacamole, roasted onion and chipotle, and a 45-day dry-aged Galician blond steak. Check out Hellfire here.
Mr. Croqueta, Camden Street
It’s a major expansion for Mr. Croqueta as the Spanish snack experts take over the upper floor of the Camden Street branch of A Taste of Spain, where previously their deep-fried flavour bombs were available only to the lucky few who arrived early to nab their limited daily stocks. With this more formal setup they’ve rolled out a full brunch, brunch and dinner menu, with breakfast tortillas, Great Taste award-winning charcuterie and plenty of prawns. It’s no surprise that croquetas are King here, with the Basque cod and mushroom-parmesan our favourite of the six options on offer. Open every day bar Mondays.
D'Olier Street, Dublin 2
One of the higher-profile Dublin openings of recent times had a little wind taken out of its sails when it was forced into a last-minute name change, but the erstwhile Church & Chambers powered on to avoid delays. A collaboration between Mr Fox’s Anthony Smith, James Moore, formerly head chef at New York’s two-starred Atera, and Jane Frye (front of house and Moore's wife), D’Olier Street appears to have its eye on great things with its €82 ten-course set menu - not to mention notable signings like pastry chef Mina Pizarro. Save for a mixed review from the Indo’s Katy McGuinness, word has been relatively quiet so far, but we can't see that being the case for long.
A match-made-in-heaven collaboration between The Big Romance and Whiplash brewers, Fidelity offers 14 of the latter’s beers on tap and a bespoke sound system and décor that heavily recalls the former space. Situated in the spot previously occupied by the much-missed Dice Bar, this new arrival saw a heaving first week before quietening down to a much more relaxed vibe we can see being a fixture of its weeknights. The limited wine menu leans heavily into organic and biodynamic bottles, while the classy cocktail options include a basil and black pepper margarita and the perennially delicious 'papa doble' daiquiri, with rum, pink grapefruit juice and Marashino cherry liqueur.
Yeeros, Wexford Street
Souvlaki comes to the Southside as much-loved Greek takeaway spot Yeeros expands to a second site in Wexford Street. Long a popular choice for Drumcondra locals, it should do well in this new locale right across the way from Against the Grain. As the food goes, it’s no surprise the flame-grilled gyros and skewers are the stars of the show - served in a pita, on a plate, or as part of their newly-launched pita pots, these hefty servings aren’t for dainty eaters. Dolmadakia and spanakopitakia are among the more authentic starter options on offer, and for dessert, it’s all about the loukoumades donuts.
Nan, Stephen Street Lower
From the team behind Stoneybatter’s Hakkahan and Double Happy in Rathfarnham, Nan Chinese opened Christmas week, in the space that previously played host to Accents café. Where Hakkahan’s focus is on Sichuan cuisine, Nan is about Huaiyang (another of the four great traditions in Chinese cooking), and the menu’s cold salted duck, ‘lion’s head’ meatballs and sweet and sour deep fried fish are some of the regional dishes being served.
Like Hakkahan, provenance is front and centre with a list of suppliers lovingly called out on the menu. A short sampling of dim sum includes the elusive soup dumplings, while sweet soups are some of the more unusual dessert options. Read our Nan Chinese once over here.
It’s good news for south suburbs commuters as Perch has branched out from its iconic original home in the little redbrick kiosk just off Leeson Street Bridge, to take up a second residence at Glenageary Dart station. The chirpy café is all about sustainability and local produce, with coffee coming from Bailies in Belfast and a range of food from Greenville Deli, Bread 41 and Konkara regularly popping up on-site. We’re keeping fingers crossed for the same great range in the new location too, open now from 07:00 on weekdays and 09:00 on weekends.
We barely had time to register the Pigeon House’s closure before this new arrival sprang up in its place. Tarbh is taking a different tack from the high-end fare that preceded it, and the food options are unlikely to set Clontarf alight, with burgers, steak and chicken supreme showing up alongside soup de jour, buffalo wings and goat's cheese salad. Breakfast isn’t any less basic with standard-issue eggs, pancakes and full Irishes alongside yet more burgers and steaks. If you're looking for something ultra safe, this is it.