52-55 Drury Street, Dublin
Chef: Warren Massey
Although I am not quite at the orthopaedic shoes and elasticated waistband stage, my tolerance for the terminally cool is wearing as threadbare as a hipster’s third-hand cardigan.
The Drury Building is the latest development by foodrepreneur Declan O’Regan, the man who brought you ”that restaurant on Fade Street with no name above it, but I think it’s called a French name and then there’s that bar too on the same street that’s hard to find, but it’s near that restaurant with no name and the bar doesn’t have a name either.
I’m guessing you can’t find it on Google. But, seriously, enough already with the no-name thing.
Thankfully, when pressed, staff call the new restaurant Drury Buildings, but it doesn’t actually appear outside. Instead they have a spectacular-looking abstract graffiti-mural painting on the entire exterior wall.
I pitched up with a PR friend whose Facebook updates vacillate between food and, well, food. An ideal dining partner. I’d arrived early and spotted the now internationally famous Panti/Rory O’Neill, but I decided not to interrupt him. Instead I joined some other friends who were finishing off a 14oz chargrilled T-bone steak served with crispy onion rings and bone marrow butter (€29.50). So overwhelmed were they by the quality they insisted I tried it and I can concur that the meat was flawless.
When my companion arrived I took my seat and we strategically ordered to cover as many bases as possible, though it was a tough call from such an interesting menu.
We ordered the rabbit, sage and apricot terrine with Muscat grape chutney (€10.50) and the first bite put us both at our ease. The descriptions matched the food and the flavours surpassed our anticipation.
We also had the roast butternut squash, prosciutto and Toonsbridge Ricotta salad (€11). This was flawless, but I have one tiny gripe: I make the same at home, so in a restaurant I might expect an extra edge to the dish. Delicious nonetheless.
For the main course we ordered the guanciale di montagna (€19.50), a cured Italian pork cheek which needs to come from a particularity large pig for the best results, so is not always that easy to source. It was wonderful to see it on the menu and even more wonderful to eat.
It came with Pecorino Romano and calamarata pasta. It is not always easy to describe a pasta without hand motions, but this one is easier than most – as the name suggests, it looks like loops of calamari.
Our bottle of Paparuda Riesling (€27) from Romania was a refreshing delight, and yet another reason to welcome our Romanian cousins to these shores. Just bring more wine.
I don’t always immediately recall the flavour of a dish when I’m writing a review – I normally need my notes or the pictures on my smartphone to kick start my memory. There were no such concerns with the fresh gnocchi di patate with ricotta and walnuts (€16.50), but sadly the memory was one of deep negativity, a memory of the sin of envy.
Why can’t I get my gnocchi to taste as pillowy yet firm as these ones? Why can’t I make mine taste so light in texture yet still have the almost imperceptible grain of potato? Hateful things, but obviously also moreish beyond decency.
For dessert the rum and raisin affogato (€5) will seem like a good idea to some, others will miss the purity of the traditional affogato with plain ice cream. The tiramisu with Kahlua and biscotti (€7.95) will no doubt be as popular as sherry trifle at a Pioneer Club meeting. However, even my highly-evolved resistance to alcohol shuddered a little with the volume of drink’ in this dessert.
The Drury Building has created a chic dining space which will be difficult to resist, even for the terminally uncool.
Better still, they’ve created an Italian menu of ambassadorial standing with plenty of new and interesting dishes, even for the most jaded of palates. I’ll be back for the food and stay to dilute their hipster quotient.
Breaking the bank
Starter: coppa di testa, mustard fruits €12.50
Main course: 14oz chargrilled T-bone steak with crispy onion rings, bone marrow butter €29.50
Afters: Irish and Italian cheeses with grapes and music bread €13.50
Wine: Tenuta Di Mezzo Amarone €78
Total for two: €189
Watching the pennies
Starter: winter vegetable and cannellini bean broth with Pecorino and parsley pesto €7.90
Main course: fresh gnocchi di patate with ricotta and walnuts €16.50
Dessert: rum and raisin affogato €5
Wine: Graffigna Pinot Grigio €22
Total for two: €80.80