So many new bars, so many expensive drinks, so little time (and budget) to see where's worth spending your spondulicks. That's where we come in. We'll be doing the heavy lifting on the city's new bars and telling you whether the drinks, food, surrounds and service are worth dedicating a pre or post dinner drink, an office night out or a night catching up with that friend you haven't seen in an age.
Lennan's Yard, Dawson Street
Lennan's Yard, comprising a bar, restaurant and pub called 'The Lennan', opened on Dawson Street at the end of 2021, after a reported multi-million euro build. It's from the same owners as Asador in Ballsbridge, and the head chef came from the Press Up group and Shanahan's.
The money that's been spent fitting this place out is very evident, from the exposed brick walls in the former stables to the red leather seats, the art work to the staff uniforms, and it's also evident in the pricing. Cocktails (from a menu that should have been spellchecked before printing) are between €14.50 and €15, which is heading towards five-star hotel territory, and while they read well and were pleasant enough they didn't deliver anything special in terms of flavour or excitement, and weren't particularly well balanced.
The wine menu has little of interest either, apart from some random curveballs like Cucu's easy drinking Spanish Verdejo, and Luis Seabra's ultra complex Xisto Limitado from Portugal. Why anyone would pay €18 for a glass of Moet et Chandon when Note are serving grower Champagne for €17 a glass a 10 minute walk away we'll leave this earth trying to understand. From the snack menu we tried the Nocellara olives (good but €5 a bowl worked out at about 31c per olive), and an extraordinarily dry beef pie, which even some bone marrow gravy couldn't rescue.
The ATF verdict: Somewhere to see and be seen, when the surroundings are more important than the substances you're consuming - ideally when something else is footing the bill.
Three Storey, St Stephen's Green
Three Storey has opened very quietly by all accounts and hasn't had a lot of coverage, but our interest was piqued by talk of their ground floor spritzeria - Dublin does not have enough (any?) spritzerias. On a quick visit we enjoyed their rhubarb version and the generally chill vibes about the place so much that we immediately earmarked a return to check out the upstairs cocktail bar, where the serious stuff happens.
It's a full on lounge, complete with very comfortable seating, beautiful Georgian windows and really welcoming service. Every cocktail sounded good (see the menu here), although it would have been nice to see some more unusual spirits on there as opposed to the Diageo all-stars, and both the Rhubarb Gimlet and the Birdy were excellent, and potent.
There's an attractive sounding menu of small plates, from which we tried arancini (good but missing a molten centre), hummus on sourdough (pleasingly light and airy as if it had been whipped), and anchovies on toast which we would go back for again and again, and again. They've just opened their basement restaurant, the last piece of the trifecta, and we're very keen to see what's happening down there.
The ATF verdict: We really liked Three Storey. Good drinks, good food, good service, a really nice setting. It feels special and swanky without any accompanying attitude. Also let's make 2022 the summer of spritzes.
Winedown, Montague Street
Meltdown, the site of *those* cheese toasties, announced at the end of 2020 (i.e. the year we're all trying to forget) that their Montague Street branch was going to start turning into Winedown at night - a relaxed wine bar with meat, cheese and sharing plates. A quick facelift, a few neon signs and multiple wine deliveries later and they were ready to go. Like everything else over the last two years their opening has been stop/start, buffered with some at home meal kits (we reviewed one here), but in February of this year they announced they were back for good.
Downstairs feels very café-like so make sure you're upstairs which is a nicer space to relax in, with booths, low tables and counter dining. We would have liked the lights lower and the music higher to give it a bit more atmosphere and plunge it more into sexy wine bar territory, but it was quiet when we visited so that might have had something to do with it too.
The wine list is a mix of styles without a laser focus, featuring everything from very commercial to super natural - stick to the natural. We had the Fuchs & Haze pet nat which is a great sparkler, and the Ciello Bianco catarratto which was less interesting than previous vintages we've had, but the lovely manager gave us a taste of Fabien Jouves' orange wine which was electric.
The menu reads very well with loads we would have liked to try, and there's a nice mix of snacks, small and large plates, and cheese and charcuterie - ideal if you're not looking for a three-course situation or if there are varying levels of hunger/different tastes among your group. We tried their famous 'mac mama' croquette with macaroni cheese, bacon and spring onions, as well as a small cheese plate with Délice de Bourgogne, truffled comté and Saint Agur, with grapes, chutney and crackers. It was all very good, with the only complaint being that the cheese was a little too cold, but a bit of patience and restraint would have fixed that - we just don't have any.
The ATF verdict: Winedown isn't a 'serious' wine bar on the level of Note or Piglet, but it's laid back and fun, and not everyone is looking for an education with every glass.
For our final stop of the night we hightailed it to Dashi, the new cocktail bar under Soup Two in Smithfield, in the company of a VERY grumpy taxi driver with some very dangerous driving skills. We stumbled out shaken and pissed off, descended some grubby, old man pub stairs, and floated into one of the best jazz performances of our little lives. Turn off reality and you could have been in New York/Berlin/Paris - were we really in Dublin 7?? As far we can see, live music is going to be a big part of the Dashi vibe, as well as the cocktails.
The cocktail list is full of original creations using homemade syrups, infusions and delicious sounding spirits like sesame and butter-washed bourbon, and strawberry and camomile-infused rum. We tried the cachaca old fashioned with macadamia, dark chocolate, orange bitters, olive oil and a dilsk garnish, and a (face-grimacingly sour) whiskey sour, which weren't our favourites from the night, but we've had plenty of good cocktails from Soup before so are keen to try more. There's clearly not been a big interior design budget in here, and it's still throwing off major old man pub vibes, but they've done a good job with dried flowers, lanterns, and a Rolls Royce fender in front of the DJ box.
There's no food but Soup Two is right upstairs serving deep-fried kimchi, ramen and an umami salad we dream about.
The ATF verdict: We loved Dashi, particularly for its teleportation properties and exemplary taste in music. If we lived in Smithfield Thursday night jazz would be in the diary until the diary pages ran out.
What bars would you like us to visit on our next bar crawl? Send us at email at email@example.com, or shoot us a message on social.