I’ve walked past Richmond restaurant in Portobello so many times since it opened last year and every time I do, I promise myself I’ll go in.
I’ve read so many brilliant reviews of the place (our Niall was very impressed with the brunch offering last year) and everyone I know who’s been there has sung its praises.
Somehow though, it took me up until Saturday night to actually check it out and woah, have I been missing out.
Trying to choose somewhere for a belated Valentine’s meal, I instantly thought of Richmond (the fact that my boyfriend lives right around the corner and my inability to walk long distances in heels may have had an impact).
The outside of Richmond reminds me of the cosy neighbourhood restaurants I loved when I lived in New York; quietly tucked away from the street with its simple neon sign and candlelight flickering from the window.
Inside, the place is the epitome of understated cool. An open kitchen pass overlooks the restaurant floor, the walls are whitewashed brick and the seats are a mixture of wood and red leather booths. For such a small room, it feels surprisingly open and there’s also additional seating upstairs.
We booked in for an early dinner at 6pm as we had somewhere to be by 8pm, which meant we were able to order from their early bird menu.
Priced at €23 for two courses and €28 for three, it’s available all evening Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and until 6.30pm on Friday and Saturday.
With four starters, five mains and four desserts to choose from, I would usually spend ages deliberating over what to order. However, I’d heard so many good things about the food that I knew whatever was put in front of me would be tasty.
After we had ordered, a small plate of homemade fennel bread and a ramekin of curried butter were dropped to our table.
I admit I was wary of the ‘curry’ in the butter, but the flavour was mild and went perfectly with the liquorice-y bread. It’s always a nice touch when restaurants offer a li’l free nibble while you’re waiting for the main feast.
I went with a veggie starter of sweet red pepper, Irish ricotta, marinated vegetables, basil and almond, which was beautifully presented with whirls of colour on the plate.
The ricotta was soft, fresh and served at room temperature, which meant that it tasted extra creamy. So many places serve soft cheeses straight from the fridge without realising how much it can interfere with the flavour.
My boyfriend ordered the crispy duck cake. I can’t recall what it was served with but I stole a bite and it was delish, with soft shredded duck inside and perfectly crispy crumbs on the outside.
We were loving the atmosphere in Richmond too, as music is buzzy without being too loud and all the staff were chilled and friendly, having easy banter with one another as they worked.
For mains, I had the slow-cooked ox cheek with thyme gnocchi, cavolo nero and crispy onions. GOOD GOD, this dish must have been slow-cooked over a fire stoked by angels because it was genuinely one of the tastiest plates I’ve had in Dublin.
The ox cheek was droolworthy, so tender and meaty, and the gnocchi were plump pillows of flavour. The portions may seem small initially but trust me, you’ll be nicely full.
Himself went with the burger and while it wouldn’t have been my first choice from the menu, he was delighted with it. The Richmond Burger comes with a brioche bun (a bold move as the number of brioche-haters increases, but luckily he’s a fan), Monterey Jack, tomato, onion, pickles, smoked paprika aioli and hand-cut fries.
The burger got a huge thumbs up, with my boyfriend saying how nice it was to actually be able to eat a burger with your hands.
“You should never have to use a knife and fork to eat a burger,” was the verdict.
Take note, other restaurants offering towering meat stacks.
Our shared dessert order of a date pudding with toffee sauce, gingerbread ice-cream and salted peanuts was pure indulgence, without any sickly sweetness you so often get from desserts.
The gingerbread ice cream, a flavour I’d never tried before, was subtly spiced and my only complaint is that there wasn’t more of it because I could easily eat an entire bowl.
Although that probably says more about me than the amazing quality of the ice-cream.
Dinner for two with two glasses of Picpoul, one of my favourite whites, and two bottles of Peroni beer (surely you can’t expect us to enjoy date night without a few drinks) came to €77.50, not including a tip.
We left Richmond saying how it was honestly one of the nicest meals we’ve had in a long time, with everything from the food to the service being absolutely flawless.
It took longer than it should have but now that we’ve fallen in love with Richmond, we will definitely make it our local treat spot. Next on the calendar is their Tuesday Tasting Menu, a five-course menu for €29.95.
If you haven’t yet made your way to this restaurant, you really should. Fair prices, amazing quality and cheery staff all add up to make it the definition of a neighbourhood gem.
Richmond restaurant is located at 43 Richmond Street.