Can we be honest with you? We know Bray is in Wicklow. We know. But it is just a hop and a skip on the DART, so we’re making a rare exception to our Dublin-only rule.
And with all the incredible new eating and drinking places springing up there (Fish Bar and its divine supper club evening to name but one), Bray is fast becoming our new favourite ‘burb.
This addition to this beaut seaside town has made us fall in love even more. Cowfish (a clever play on Surf ‘n’ Turf), is a rooftop garden restaurant with views right over the promenade and onto the waves, and it’s effortlessly pretty.
The outside terrace is lit up with a fire pit outside and soft glowy lights, while inside is like a cosy jungle garden that’s straight outta an interiors mag.
Snuggly Foxford wool throws and pink cushions add a pop of colour to the otherwise green green green space. Filled with ferns and other live plants in every little alcove, halogen heaters make sure that you’re nice and warm and you can enjoy the sea views from the windows that run along the entire side of the room.
This is like nowhere else you’ll find in town.
The menu has delicious choices of modern Mediterranean small and large plates, with an emphasis on high quality, locally sourced ingredients.
Fresh creamy Burrata is made in-house by their Italian chef, who also makes the pillowy plump gnocchi (available as a small plate with juicy prawns or as a cheesy side dish). Homemade fennel bread is the perfect doughy wedge to scoop up the zingy Tztakiki and roast olives.
I also tried the melt-off-the-bone short rib, which is listed as a small plate but could easily do as a main, as well as the crab croquettes which were fresh and light and came with wasabi, avocado purée, pickled fennel, orange, rocket, lemon dressing.
This is perfect crisply coated crab.
Large plates are designed to be shared (or not), with FX Buckley rib eye, fillet and sirloin steaks grilled to personal preference, and sliced if you do decide to take a more communal approach.
Fish specials such as pan-fried fillet of hake with puy lentils, celeriac fricassee, baby spinach and a poached hen’s egg, make the most of the kitchen team’s fish expertise. With a prime location right by the sea, I was chuffed to see fish make up a lot of the menu, with scallops, prawns, tuna and smoked haddock all taking part.
A chocolate mousse dessert was always going to be hard to resist, and with a little chocolate truffle on the side boy was I glad I didn’t. Oh, and they also have the cutest miniature milk bottles for your coffee.
Boozehounds are well sorted too, and we can well imagine this becoming the top spot to go for a few evening cocktails, sitting on the terrace by the blazing fire.
The Raspberry Elderflow cocktail is sure to be mad popular, made with Tanqueray gin, elderflower, egg white, lemon juice, peach liquer, muddled raspberries and sugar syrup, and Cowfish also serves local Wicklow Wolf craft beers alongside the usual suspects like Heineken.
Cowfish hasn’t been open long, but by 8pm last night it was full to the brim with locals catching up – always a great sign to see a restaurant full when it’s a) not in the city centre and b) not even a Saturday night.
Chilling here, surrounded by the chatter of other tables and the buzz of a restaurant that has quickly found its groove, I was reminded just how brilliant Ireland’s foodie scene really is.
The majority of places that have opened in Dublin of late all have a similar industrial vibe – exposed brick and wrought iron over-trendiness – but this feels like a real oasis. Try this place once and we guarantee you’ll be back again and again.