I slammed Dillingers for copying a New York eatery a few weeks ago and they closed down the following week for a complete refurb. Much as my ego would have me believe that they read this blog and decided to implement instant change that was clearly not the case. Dillingers was one of those iconic eateries that had quickly established itself as a firm brunch and casual dining experience. So when the place closed down for three weeks I thought it was a pretty ballsy move. Why fix something that is wildly popular and clearly not broken? Well because the guys behind this are clearly some of the most ballsy and brilliant restauranteurs in the country. Talking to the waitress they explained that the complete refurb has taken the place from 44 to 60+ covers while actually creating a ton more space. The massive cocktail style bar dominates the room and is beuatifully designed. Indeed the whole place makes you feel like you are sitting in New York and is a mixture of a diner, cocktail bar and fine dining restaurant. Its very hard for a restaurant to become a "brand" but that is exactly what this is. From the website to the tills and through to the menus and decor this is a branded experience. You can tell that this wasn't a cheap makeover but adding 20 extra seats will clearly improve the bottom line in the long run. Like I said ballsy.
So even though it had only been open 2 nights when we walked in the place was buzzing. They barely had a seat for us even at 6 o'clock. A lot of nosy folk in seeing if they'd improved or destroyed a Dublin institution. They've not only improved it but absolutely completely and utterly smashed it out of the fucking park. Design wise this place is perfect. The staff are super friendly but most of all the food has gone to another level. I always liked the food but it was slightly stodgy with huge portions. Hangover food. They've clearly focused on a new level of refinement with this relaunch. The tuna and avocado tacos above are one of the best things I've ever eaten in Dublin. The rib eye steak was succulent and juicy. The John Dory special with scallops perfectly fresh and light. The absolute home run for me and the reason I will keep coming back was the mac and cheese side order. A whole dinner as a side order? One of my favorite dishes ever as a bonus little thing on the side? Yes please!!! All day fucking long!
The only dish that didn't really live up to expectations was a langoustine cerviche. I always think cerviche should be a huge bowl of fish with pungent zesty flavors but this was a small expensive portion that was way too fruity. It was only a special on the night so they'll hopefully ditch that one.
What they really rely on here are the ingredients and the buzz. Throw in a few hipster beers and some amazing cocktails and I can safely say this is going to be the most popular new restaurant in Dublin for a few months to come. Good places constantly refine themselves and I walked out of Dillingers thinking "fuck me that was an experience".
During a recession the tendency is to bunker down and cut costs and try and ride it out. Very few people have the balls to invest more cash to get bigger and better but that is exactly what has happened here. It isn't cheap coming in at 113 Euros for 2 of us but don't let that stop you. You'll be very lucky to get a table or even a funky bar stool but make sure you fight to get in. You'll probably see me in there as this is straight in to my top 3 restaurants and places to chill out in Dublin. Not only is the new place one of the best places in Dublin but it could easily grace London, Sydney or New York and go toe to toe with their best eateries. An iconic new Dublin venue has just been born.
They haven't started serving them yet as the place literally only opened a couple of days ago but just how amazing do these specials sound? Mouth wateringly good.