When I think about the Celtic Tiger I think about three things...The tent at the Galway races, Bertie grinning like a mad delusional bastard and Johnny Ronan the bearded property tycoon with a penchant for leggy models. At one stage it seemed young Johnny owned 30% of the commercial property in the world and things where looking grand. Then along came the head fuck that is the ongoing recession. If you are looking for the epicenter of the financial mess that we are in now a good spot to start would be Town Bar And Grill. It was a wildly successful spot that attracted all the heavy hitters by being beside Leinster house, Anglo and city center businesses.
It's the place where Gerry Ryan had his last meal before dying. A regular spot for the developers around town to chink glasses over the latest deal. They expanded at the height of the boom to Sandyford and the whole house of cards came falling down and put Town Bar and Grill into receivership. To top the whole story off it was Johnny Ronan who sailed in to save the place with a load of cash recently. I guess the place just held too many memories from the good old days to let it slip and go under. As ever with taking a step into something that was at it's prime during the celtic tiger I was pretty dubious and ready to slate the place due to pre conceived ideas of what it was...
Basement restaurants are hit and miss. Get them wrong and they can be a fucking disaster. Get them right like they have here and they are sublime. When you walk down the stairs here you feel like you are entering another world. A weight lifts off your shoulders. The tables are far enough apart and people speak in hushed voices because this is the perfect place to close a deal or conduct an illicit affair. We were here to treat ourselves and although we went for the express menu (2 courses served within 45 minutes or you get all your money back) the food was spectacular. I started with Cured organic Clare Island salmon tartar, pea mousse, rapeseed aoli and samphire. I don't really need to say anything here because all you have to do is look at the picture at the top of the post. It doesn't take a fucking rocket scientist to see that it was amazing. The goat's cheese was equally tasty and as pretty as a picture.
The mains were equally delicious and way above anything I've eaten in other Dublin restaurants at lunch time. Quality meats and huge hunks of fresh hake all served with super fresh vegetables and deep rich sauces. This is proper cooking. No stripped back bullshit cheap lunch menus here. It might be pricey and have an exclusive feel to the place but you get what you pay for and in Town Bar and Grill and that is top notch cooking with great service. This is a proper restaurant and wouldn't be out of place in New York, Paris or London.
Even the fact that the Panna Cottas were a bag of shite (although the creme brulee was bang on) this was a wonderful dining experience. It's to be kept for special occasions though. An anniversary. A special business deal. Treating your granny. Or if you are Johnny Ronan and you more or less own the place you'll come in whenever you fucking like because you can't be assed listening to NAMA any more.
Lunch with 3 with a glass of wine was just over the 120 yoyos. Money well spent. The place is always busy so make sure to book. I'd love to get a look at the books and see what made it go into receivership but you get the feeling it was over expansion rather than anything happening here. Lets hope the balance sheet is healthy and the books balance because this has to keep going because it is easily one of the top five spots to have a fancy meal in Dublin. Hopefully NAMA will go easy enough on poor old Johnnys hundreds of millions debt and allow him to keep the lights on here because it would be a shame to lose the place.
The View From Others
I am only one person eating in the place on a single day so to give a little balance here are some reviews from some other people to see what they thought..
Taste Of Ireland