Shanahan's - Swanky Food For Wankey People
I'd love to say I walk into restaurants to review with an open mind and the fairness of the Dalai Lama but the truth is I always carry some sort of assumptions about a place. I think it is only human nature to form opinions about things before you walk in the door and as I walked into iconic Dublin steak house Shanahan's I was thinking...Expensive, Full of douchebag bankers, American tourists and pretentious. I just try and pick places that are interesting and unique to review and although Shanahan's might not fit in to an everyday austerity household budget I thought it was worth checking out at the relatively affordable 45 Euro lunch menu to judge if it merited a visit for a special occasion. It wasn't all that busy for lunch with the exception of what looked like an Iranian family discussing their Nuclear disarmament strategy, some business men talking about buying up acres of distressed property in Ballsbridge, a couple of dudes from the IMF deciding how much further they could push the local peasants and a group of spys clearly arranging an internationals arms shipment. Its that sort of crowd and the fact that the door needs to be released by a lock shows that they are very intent on keeping the local scum earning less than 30k a year well and truly outside. They don't have a sign explicitly banning people from the North side of Dublin but you get the feeling they have a procedure in place should it ever arise. God knows what will happen when the LUAS lines finally merge and the junkies get to ride straight past the front door. First up was the bread which was an individual loaf packed full of delicious melted cheese and cut by the waiter at the table. It was an epic triumph and I had to give myself a talking to for eating too much of it. I'm 34 years of age but still consistently make the school boy error of filling myself up with bread before the really good stuff comes.
The starters are very classical and my trio of salmon was an absolute joy. Just warm enough to make the slices melt on your mouth. This starter was like the crystal meth of the food world because one tiny mouthful and I was addicted and a couple of days later I'd literally punch an old granny in the face if I thought I could get another slice. The Caesar salad on the other hand was a big bag of meh. Nothing bad or noting good but my mate Barry hate a serious case of starter envy. Tough shit loser you showed weakness by saying you'd try something else for the sake of the review!
Starters were nice and all that but you don't come to Shanahan's for a few leaves or some smoked fish. You come for the steaks and we had 2 of their best fillets which come served with a little Jus and some onion marmalade. I've heard people say the steaks are tiny but I think it is the perfect amount of meat served with some awesome side orders.
So the million dollar question....was the steak good? Yes. Was it the best I've had in Dublin? No. It was perfectly cooked, lovely and tender and I'd eat one of these every day if I could. At the end of the day a fillet is a fillet though and what you gain in tenderness you lose in flavor.
For me it was all about the sides. Those gorgeous little copper pots (about 100 Euros each btw) packed full of perfect creamed spinach and piping hot mash. The size of the serving of onion rings is just mind blowing but that is their signature dish served with every steak. I just wouldn't want to be the poor fucking chef churning them out for a busy dinner service. All in all the experience of eating a steak was pure joy. See this is the reverse of all the hipster joints in town charging you 25 Euros for a steak with no sides and by the time you shell out for your sauce, sides and chips its a sneaky 40 quid. At least in here they are honest about it and you get everything with your steak that you actually fecking need!
If the mains were good the desserts unexpectedly stole the show. After a longish wait out came a little coconut tart and a cheesecake that were epic in both size and taste. The sort of desserts that you'd need to be rolled out the door after eating.
One tiny flaw and one that I seem like an asshole for picking up on after such a fine meal was a rotten raspberry. Perfect on the outside but all mould filled on the inside. When you aim for perfection as they do here it only takes one tiny slip to fall short and they did with this. I wasn't too bothered because the meal was delicious but that is a rookie chef mistake and it shouldn't be happening in a place like this.
As if we needed them after all that the bill came with some delicious salted chocolates. The perfect meal topped off with one extra little surprise. It really pisses me off when people say food like this is expensive. I think it is worth every single penny because you can see the effort that goes into it. The expensive rent. Training the staff. The equipment and the high end ingredients. You get what you pay for in life and paying 106 Euros for everything you see in the photos felt like bloody good value to me. Not one for every day of the week but a super spot for special occasions