People always ask me when I’ll open a restaurant – sometimes out of curiosity, and sometimes out of spite – and the answer I usually given them is that I’d rather shoot myself in the nuts.
The problem is that most people eat out once a week, see a €25 main course, look around at a packed room and think “Jesus I could do that and make a fortune”.
What they don’t see are the wages, the cost of the ingredients, the quiet Monday nights or the sheer stress of the entire process. The simple fact is that the vast majority of restaurants lose money and the few that are well run provide a meagre, hard fought living for 1-2 owners at best.
If I was to open a restaurant, though, it would be a copy of La Relais, which has locations in London, Paris and New York. They don’t have a menu, and all you’re asked is how you would like your steak cooked. You get a salad starter, then the steak comes with chips and a special sauce – and the simple formula makes it easily one of my favourite restaurants in the world.
No food waste, portion control is spot on and room for error with staff is minimal. They’ve nailed risk management without screwing the customer.
Well the good news for me is that somebody has beaten me to it in Dublin.
Featherblade has just opened up on Dawson Street, and although it’s not quite as stripped back, it’s not far off either. They have two starters that rotate and, as their name suggests, they serve up a featherblade as the main course. They often have a second type of steak on as special – but don’t come here if you are looking for choice.
I started with the confit of chicken. This consisted of two incredibly tender and tasty legs (confit means slow cooked in fat so no surprise there) that tasted like the best chicken wings you’d get in town, but without the bullshit of having to get your fingers dirty. As wonderful a starter as you’re ever likely to have an perfect for sharing.
But lovely and all as the chicken was, you don’t come to a restaurant with only one steak on the menu to fuck around with the food equivalent of foreplay – you want to get down to business. And, for me, that was the featherblade itself. After all, if a place is going to stand the test of time then they’d better do what they say above the door brilliantly. And boy, do they deliver.
The steak costs €13, which is great value even when you add a couple of sides and a sauce. I added the mac and cheese which was easily the best I have ever had in Ireland, and not the sloppy bastardised version most places serve up here.
And the steak itself? Masterpiece. Perfectly cooked with wonderful crunchy sea salt, and as tender as a pig’s head after a night in with David Cameron.
Cooking only one thing and doing it well takes some serious balls
See the thing is when you only have one thing to cook the chances are you’ll do it perfectly, or at very least above average. And that’s Featherblade for you.
Cooking only one thing and doing it well takes some serious balls. At Featherblade they have that in spades, and as soon as people get to know this place it’ll be swarmed come every lunch and every dinner.
It might not be the place to come isn’t a place to come if you want a large menu, choice or if you’re a veggie. But if you’re looking for a top-notch steak with decent cocktails and wine, then my advice is pretty simple: Get in while you can.