You know that one place that has been on your radar for long, yet you've never actually eaten there? You don't know why but for some reason it just keeps getting pushed further and further down the list when it comes to eating out.
For me, that was The Old Spot. I stress was, because after grabbing dinner here one Sunday before Christmas it's now firmly on my go-to spots for when I want unfussy yet delicious bites.
Located on Dublin 4's Bath Avenue, The Old Spot was one of 30 Irish pubs to make it into the esteemed 2018 Michelin 'Eating Out In Pubs' guide and is a self-described "classic and timeless gastropub."
Perfectly designed for chilly winter nights, The Old Spot is warm and cosy inside with dark wood, a fireplace and quirky antiques
More than just a pub serving standard food and a few craft beers, The Old Spot has real talent behind it - the menu is full of classic ingredients put together with a special zing that made it almost impossible to choose what we wanted.
The best complaint you can have in a restaurant, basically.
After much hmm-ing about we went with a Chicken Liver Parfait, Quince, Candied Walnuts, Sourdough Toast (€12) and Compressed Pear, Crozier Blue Cheese, Chicory, Walnuts (€10) to start.
The chicken liver parfait was a delicate mousse with a flavour so bold we were eating it straight from the fork and the Crozier blue cheese was a fab addition to the bitter chicory.
Right from the get go, we knew we were in for a seriously great meal...
Mains were the 10oz Mcloughlin’s Dry Aged Ribeye, Fries, Rocket Salad, Peppercorn Sauce (€30) and the Wild Venison Haunch, Parsnip, Quince, Cracked Wheat, Kale (€28).
We had called the waiter back after the starters to put in a last-minute order of the Crispy Cauliflower side with Blue Cheese Dip (€4.50) and I've never been so glad of a rushed choice - fried cauliflower with any sort of cheese is my new weakness.
The steak stole the show: chargrilled and dripping with juices, the fries skin-on and just waiting to be dunked into the peppercorn sauce. My boyfriend commented that he did think it was more on the "rare" side of medium rare, but for me (the sneaky steak thief), it was perfection.
My venison was tender and full of flavour, with artful little dollops of potato puree dotted around the plate. The kind of dish that demands that every single morsel be scooped up and devoured.
We were stuffed to the brim - yet still tempted by dessert
What The Old Spot also has is charm - the staff didn't rush us at any stage of the dinner. A hectic Sunday evening, there was a point where we thought we'd never get asked for desserts but waiting 15 minutes or so after the mains was probably beneficial.
One glance at the dessert menu and the Sticky Date & Toffee Cake, Treacle Toffee with Ice Cream (€7.50) jumped out straight away.
Gooey and warm and oozing with toffee goodness, I had to stop myself from licking the plate.
Two glasses of Baileys finished off what was one of the most satisfying meals I've had in Dublin in quite a while.
A welcoming little haven with fab food and an atmosphere to match? I'm already planning my next visit.