Eastern Seaboard Bar & Grill
1 Bryanstown Centre, Dublin Road, Drogheda, Co. Louth. Tel: 041 980 2570.
Chef: Reuven Diaz
Build it and they will come. Well, it isn’t always the case and there are many a failed business which have opened their doors to tumble weed. The Eastern Seaboard was a bit of a risk. They are not surrounded by famous eateries and neither is Drogheda considered a destination dining town as Cork is. Nonetheless every foodie in the country is talking about the Eastern Seaboard including the my Meath based brother. I decided to make Drogheda my dining destination for a Saturday night, if it is worth leaving Meath to try it, it must surly be worth leaving Dublin too.
Eastern Seaboard is über trendy, with vast spaces, exposed pipes, concrete floors and an old wooden bar. Folded into this are objet trouvé of a highly eclectic variety which soften the space with a wink of humour. A giant bowl of pool balls sat in the middle of our table.
The first thing you’ll notice, as a diner, is that the staff are not just well briefed, but thoroughly embedded in the culture of the restaurant. Possibly it is the influence of the US training culture of the owners, but just about every question got a very full answer and not by rote either.
We ordered a bottle of Picpoul Du Pinet (€27), a thoroughly reliable number, along with some some tasty Erdinger beer (€5). The beer was a natural choice with the bro’s chicken wings (€6.95), a popular starter from the US served with sour cream and celery spears. This is not a complex dish but we agreed it was amongst the better ones we’d tasted.
Another simple dish were the seasonal crudités and grissini (€4.95). The bald description was giving nothing away, as the flavours from well-sourced vegetables sang of quality, several were very lightly pickled so there was an extra dimension the whole baby carrots, courgettes and cucumber. All relieved by crusty sticks of grissini.
I had the special of clams and cockles with samphire and parsley (€7), slightly oddly called a ‘salad’ but utterly delicious. A gathering of all my favourite flavours and textures with a briny, umami flavoured jus left at the bottom, ideal for soaking up with the crusty bread brought to the table.
They have a clever way of serving main courses here: you pick a dish and then you choose two sides to go with it from options that cover warm potato salad and hand cut fries to a really beautifully clean tasting Asian slaw sprinkled with sesame seeds.
The crab claws (€19) came in a Tardis-like bowl, sweet and flavourful they were served with the two choices of sweet little slow-roasted carrots with thyme and the Asian slaw.
My main course of mackerel (€13) matched previous courses for excellence and freshness and the waitress very nearly filled me in on the genealogy of the fish. It’s so great to meet staff who are so enthusiastic about their job, it makes life so much more pleasant for everyone.
The bro’ had the Bellingham blue burger (€10.95), which had all the knobbly, rough texture of a proper home-made burger. Big flavours were softened by a floury bun and some lightly pickled cucumbers.
There are desserts aplenty here including raspberry mess with meringue, custard and whipped cream (€6); and ‘little pots of chocolate heaven’ with citrus shortbread for dipping (€6). The warm chocolate and macadamia nut brownie with a dollop of ice cream proved a winner (€6) but I was a bit bemused by my funny little pastry, about the size of your thumb, covered in icing and tasting like a hybrid between a biscuit and a croissant. Not to my taste but others may like it dunked in coffee.
A cursory read of the menu here might make you believe it is a very ordinary eatery but there’s too much love of food for this to be the case. A long list of suppliers at the back of the menu shows not just a loyalty to Irish produce but produce from their home county of Louth and neighbouring counties beyond that. They’ve struck a clever balance between local demands and some challenges to the palate too. Those seeking destination-dining spots should put the Eastern Seaboard to the top of their list.
This first appeared in The Sunday Business Post, October 2013.