Looping playlists have an odd ability to completely distort our sense of time.
No matter whether it happens 30 minutes apart, an hour apart or four hours apart, hearing the same songs play through in the same order tends to give a strange sense of inertia; a sense that it’s time to take stock of your surroundings and do something to shake off this induced déjà vu.
That’s the feeling we get in Seagrass as Passenger’s Let Her Go fills the room for the second time, just as we chuck the napkin over our main courses and ponder whether or not to get dessert.
Then it plays again – twice in a row. We look around. We’re seated at one of only two occupied tables in the restaurant, despite the fact that it’s now drawing close to 9pm on a Wednesday evening. It's quiet, and we're watching what we say for fear that our words are starkly audible against the soft acoustic background noises.
But let’s back up a bit.
When we arrive at 7.30pm, the place is similarly empty – enough, in fact, for me to crack the age-old, always-hilarious “It’s a good thing we booked!” joke as we sit down.
At this point, though, we're sufficiently distracted by the fantastic menu – the ‘Early Evening’ menu runs all evening and offers two courses for just €23, or three for €27, and the choices are fairly wide-ranging. Better again, it's BYOB, meaning you're saving 20-odd for every bottle of wine you go through.
Not wanting to fill myself with a rich risotto before I’ve even touched my main, I break from my normal rule: ‘if it has gorgonzola, stop looking at the menu and just order it immediately’. Instead, I go for the chicken liver mousse with red onion jam, berry marmalade and toast – and following the same logic regarding the risotto, my seafood-phobic friend orders the same.
This might not be an overly adventurous ordering strategy, but who cares? This starter was good enough to order twice – and possibly, if you were feeling particularly decadent and averse to exploration, twice again in lieu of the mains.
The mousse is thick enough to be spread thinly on the toast and still pack a punch, and is complemented perfectly by both the jam and the berry marmalade – and the dish is only let down by a shortage of toast, meaning some of the wonderful condiments go to waste for want of something to lather them over.
The mains aren’t long following – the toasted chestnut option for myself (featuring gorgonzola and, thus, offering me a chance to finally follow my rule), and the slow-roasted lamb for my friend.
My own dish offers a variety of flavours, with the sharpness of the celeriac and the kale pesto working brilliantly against the softness of the chestnuts – and the mushrooms dominate the plate as well as any piece of meat.
Meanwhile, the lamb ordered by my friend falls apart upon being touched and melts sublimely in the mouth. The vegetables on both sides of the table may have a little bit too much bite for some tastes, but for me they're perfectly crispy.
And yet, despite the culinary masterclass on show here, we're not even remotely inclined to stick around for dessert – despite some cracking and original options on offer.
Passenger is on a loop, and it feels as if we don't spring free from this time warp now, we never will; so after taking a minute to finish our glasses of wine, we settle the bill and retire down the road to Blackbird for a nightcap and a dose of energy.
I’ve walked past this place enough times on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights when I’ve felt atmosphere positively emanating out the door. Why this doesn’t transfer itself to the middle of the week – despite some pretty sweet value on the ‘Early Bird’ menu (which actually runs until closing on these days) – is something of a mystery.
But nonetheless, go enjoy Seagrass. Enjoy the intricate starters. Enjoy the perfectly cooked mains. Enjoy the tunes, twice. Enjoy the value, enjoy the inventive presentation, enjoy your wines, hell, even enjoy the dessert.
But if you want to enjoy the atmosphere, or if you don’t want to enjoy all these things with a hearty side of sedate silence, you’re probably best to enjoy it on a weekend night.