What: Very cramped restaurant specialising in cooking meat on stones.
Prices: Well above average. Penne pesto €14.95, fillet of beef (on the stone) €29.95, fish in a bag €21, luscious lime (salad) €9.95, superfood salad €17.95, hamburger and chips €16.90, desserts around €8.
Vegetarian menu: Little to chose from for a main course but a good few sides and salads are advertised as being vegetarian (but at least one is served with meat, see below). Some of the dishes advertised as being vegetarain are not (see below). Crunchy salad hearts €6.95, beetroot broth infused with orange and dill €5.25, iced cucumber soup with frozen avocado €5.75, truffle tagliatelle (half portion €11.25, full portion €16.95), polenta chips with pink peppercorns and rosemary €4.25, truffle chips with truffle mayonnaise and parmesan €4.50 and some more. The vegetarian pasta dishes are served with heaps of parmesan — which the chef seems to think is suitable for vegetarians. Perhaps he uses parmesan not made with rennet extracted from the stomach of a calf?
Drinks: Decent selection of wines, sparkling water, etc.
Service: Staff were friendly, but poorly trained or perhaps lacking insight. For example, at a table for two they brought bread on a board which attches to part of the table. This board was placed far beyond the reach of one person at the table. When asked to to put the bread in a basket in the middle of the table they said that they couldn’t because they didn’t have any baskets. At that point we suggested that they could use a bowl instead of a basket, which they did. The couple a few inches away, i.e., at the next table, ordered the bread and dips, which are clearly marked vegetarain on the menu, but when it was served we saw that there were skewers of meat lying across the bread. We asked if that dish was really the vegetarain starter (we had been going to order it) and the waitress confirmed that it was. The vegetarain dish is, it seems, served with “surprise” meat, as a bonus. When we asked what vegetarians are served as a bonus when they order this vegetarain dish we were told that the meat is not served and nothing extra is added. So everybody pays the same price for the dish but only meat eaters are given extras. This is not acceptable.
Comfortable? No. In fact, it’s very uncomfortable. The tables are placed so close together that it’s possible to knock one’s elbow against the stranger’s at the next table. It’s also not possible to have a private conversation as people have to sit so close to each other that you can hear everything that is being said a few tables away. Also, they bring meat on hot stones to tables, so if you don’t want the stench of cooking carcass wafting up your nose you would do well to avoid this restaurant. That said, the table was solid and didn’t wobble and the decor is easy on the eye. The music was not intrusive. A dish of salt is left for use on the table. This does not seem very hygienic as diners put their fingers in the dish (there is no spoon provided) and it appears as though the same salt dish is used by each new diner.
Was the food good? There are few vegetarian options, but what we did have was quite tasty. Bizarrely (as mentioned above), the vegetarian starter of bread and dips comes with a surprise “bonus” of skewered meat laid out across the bread. The olives starter consisted of exactly three olives. Although they were nice (served on top of ice) it’s possible that, per olive, they are the most expensive ones in Dublin. The pasta dishes rely heavily on parmesan and some are advertised as being vegetarian — the menu explicitly states that the stock used is vegetable. However, it is not clear if the parmesan used is also vegetarian. The bread is good and we were told that they bake it themselves. We understand, though, that the bread is actually supplied by Le Levain bakery.
Toilets: Downstairs. No complaints.
My advice to the chef: If a meal is advertised on the menu as being vegetarian please don’t send out a plate with “surprise” meat on it. This is beyond stupid.
My advice to the manager: Seating arrangements here are very cramped and should be reconsidered.
Overall: The chef can produce good food, everything we ate was tasty, but it’s simply too cramped. The menu offers little choice for vegetarians and the smell of cooking meat fills the restaurant. Perhaps best left to the “carnivores” the menu refers to — surely they mean omnivores?
Management were asked to respond to this review.