Review: Town Kildare Street
For our latest instalment of ‘An American in Dublin’ Emma (along with our very own Andrew) went to the relaunch of Town Kildare Street, and we were all very, very jealous after hearing about it:
Yesterday, my colleague Andrew and I went to the relaunched Town Kildare Street (what used to be Town Bar and Grill, at 21 Kildare Street) for lunch. When we walked in the restaurant, I realized immediately that we were underdressed—and that I was the youngest person in the room. (I think Andrew was the second-youngest.) For lunch, at least, this is a business-chic sort of place, a place to wine and dine clients. And so, as we made our way to the glamorous, stiletto-wearing maître d’, I was a bit apprehensive—normally, you see, business-chic restaurants are not so keen on eighteen-year-olds in jeans.
“Hello!” she beamed at us. “How are you? Your name?”
As we sipped champagne (Champagne René Geoffroy 1er Cru, “Expression”, France—thanks Town Kildare Street! Delicious!), we settled down in our booth and got a good look at the place. The restaurant is nestled underground and has a chic wine-bar sort of atmosphere. It’s a long, narrow space, yet it manages to have an airy feel. At least during the day; I expect that it gets more romantic and intimate at evening. (I will have to return for dinner to verify this. All in the name of research.) Andrew really loved the vibe and kept saying how perfect Town Bar and Grill would be for business lunches.
The picture above, taken from their website, should give you a sense of the place. Right behind where the photographer must be standing is a gorgeous fireplace.
We ordered from the express lunch menu. Town Bar and Grill offers a guarantee: they will serve one course in forty-five minutes (time recorded from the time you take your order to when they hand you the bill), or your meal is free.
I mean, Andrew and I weren’t going to limit ourselves to one course, so our lunch was well over forty-five minutes. But that’s just because it was so pleasant and tasty—the service was fantastic, and our waiter was charming and knowledgeable.
I drank a Merlot/Cabernet—according to the menu, Cotes De Duras, Domaine Des Allegrets, France 2009. While I am not at all a wine connoisseur, I thought it was lovely. Pretty light, medium-bodied Bordeaux. Andrew is vainer than I am and didn’t want to stain his mouth with a red (whatever), so he went with the French Bourgogne-Chitry, Domaine Olivier Morin. This was described as “a wine of great finesse, minerality and elegance. Well balanced with hints of white flowers.” Andrew thought it was great. Their fourteen-page wine menu is quite impressive; it includes ten white and eleven red house wines sold by the glass, and ranges from €26 to a €350 bottle for the true connoisseur. Most are between €40 and €50.
I started with a truffled goats cheese, which came with violet artichokes (one of my favourite vegetables that I don’t get nearly enough of in my life), homemade tomato sauce (they call it ketchup, which doesn’t sound as fancy as it actually was), and crispy black olive breadcrumbs. The combination of the creamy cheese and the crisp, salty olives was delicious. I highly recommend it. Andrew started with a smoked ham hock terrine, which came with wild garlic mayonnaise. It also came with small breaded objects. After he had eaten all four of them, he glanced at the menu and started laughing hysterically.
“Ooooh,” he said. “So those were snails. I thought they were mushrooms! They’re yummy.”
We’re pretty fancy.
For my main, I ordered braised beef cheeks with roast carrot, spinach, mashed potatoes, and two very elegant onion rings. It was remarkably similar to my mother’s brisket. And while no restaurant can beat my Jewish mother’s home cooking, this was a nice attempt. The beef fell apart beautifully (no knife needed!) and the vegetables were tasty. My only complaint? Perhaps the beef was a bit heavy on the sauce.
Andrew got the fried hake fillet, which came with spiced chickpeas and squash puree, sautéed baby squid, and a curry cream. My beef cheeks were good, but his hake was great. The sides were a creative choice, and all the flavours worked well together. We were especially fond of the squid and the way it offered a nice contrast in texture to the soft vegetables.
And then—time for dessert. And dessert wine, because it’s important to sample all of the menu’s offerings. Neither Andrew nor I are big fans of dessert wine—too sweet, we agree—but this seemed nice. Montbazillac, Domaine Du Haut Montlong; according to the tasting notes, it had “lemon and tangerine on the nose” and was “round, full with more hints of citrus, finishing with a warm touch.” I love wine descriptions. I can’t say that I got the tangerine on the nose, but I can attest to the fullness and the warm-touch-finish. If you’re into dessert wines, I think this would be a nice choice.
And then—time for real dessert. Andrew chose the layered rhubarb, vanilla, and stem ginger mousse, with crumbled shortbread and rhubarb foam. It was incredible. It was frothy and fruity, and somehow it crackled in the mouth. Hard to describe, but fabulous. If you go to Town Kildare Street (or just “Town” for those in the know), you absolutely must order it. I had the hazelnut praline parfait with poached pink lady apple and fresh Russet apple. I would have enjoyed it tremendously were I not overcome with order jealousy again—this time, my dessert was great, but Andrew’s was outstanding.
Here’s a picture Andrew thought to take before devouring the mousse.
And here’s a picture of my hazelnut praline parfait. I’m sorry that I don’t have photos of our starters & mains to share.
Really, this was a fabulous lunch. Everyone was so lovely to us, even though we were severely underdressed. From what I tasted, I would recommend the goat cheese starter, the fried hake fillet, (do those go together? Maybe not really, but they’re both delicious), and—most importantly—that rhubarb mousse. I’m still thinking about that rhubarb mousse. I’ll return to Town Kildare Street just for that.