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Restaurant Review - Charlotte Quay

Restaurant Review - Charlotte Quay

Saturday 24 September 2016

Here we go again”, I
 said to my friend Paul,
 as we trudged along
 the cobblestones by Grand Canal Dock to Charlotte Quay, the latest restaurant to set up shop at a premise I had gotten to know all too well in recent years. Conrad Gallagher’s Ocean was the first 
in and a Mourne Seafood Bar
 the last. I liked Mourne on my reviewing mission, going so far
 as to say “it strikes me now as finally having the right crew on board.” So much for those words of wisdom!! After a while, I was hearing disgruntled reports of the food and service. I heard then that the lease was for sale, that it was closing; so I rang the owner who denied it vehemently. It closed.
Now, it’s the turn of Marc
 and Conor Bereen of Coppinger Row, who have installed a totally different vibe. It’s as if they’re ignoring the fact that it’s by the water, after all it’s pretty bleak and cold for nine months of the year, and they’ve gone with a warm clubby look – leather banquettes and fashionable circular hubs.
We were there on its first night and it was a mixed ‘audience’
of family, friends, a few braying social media ‘first nighters’, and an abundance of trend-setting beards. Killian Durkin, the head chef, was previously
in the erstwhile La Mere Zou,
 as well as Marcel’s, Thornton’s and Dillinger’s. It’s a menu predominantly of small plates (€8-€13) and four mains (€18.50- €30), the style expanded from
 the European Mediterranean foods of Coppinger Row, the mothership, to take in the Ottolenghi inspired passion for more Southern Mediterranean or Middle Eastern food. Salt cod croquettas, looked good ‘next door’ as did a bowl of the ubiquitous gambas pil pil as it was devoured by a size 6 who couldn’t possibly touch a carb! Toonsbridge halloumi with squash, pomegranate and za’atar was part of the ‘Mediterranean East’ touch, while Dexter beef tartare had harissa, bulgar, sumac yogurt and unleavened flatbread.
Paul enjoyed his charred broccoli with roast almond hummus and a soft crisp hen’s egg (€8), while my pretty plate of Italian style tuna crudo (€12.50) in orange juice and olive oil, was topped with capers, chilli and scallions. Paul moved on with a tranch of tender seared lamb shoulder (€25) with couscous, prunes, za’atar and a good tart tzatziki. I ordered confit halibut, at a not inconsiderable €30, mainly because ‘the bits’ – orzo nero, fennel and cuttlefish– appealed. Halibut is a good meaty fish, and the black (squid ink) orzo would be a good robust pairing, particularly with the cuttlefish (or indeed chorizo),
and the anise flavours of fennel, however, what arrived was very much blanco, blanco, blanco. The orzo was blanco, the confit halibut was slithery oily blanco, and the fennel on top was chewy oily blanco. I don’t expect perfection on a first night by any means,
but, at €30, I queried the absence of what was actually billed, with Conor Bereen, and after a bit
 of “he didn’t put much in” and “what about the flavours”, I was asked if I wanted it taken back. I switched to a pleasant tian of crab and crayfish (€13) with toasted sourdough. Paul had a peanut butter parfait, salted caramel, banana and chocolate mousse (€7.50) while I had charred peach (€8.50), fig, Amaretto and vanilla ice-cream, both of which were lovely. You’re in haute hipster territory here, and there was only one white and one red wine under €30, with the bulk logging in at €30-€50 and galloping up to €120 for the big boys. With an organic Saladini Pilastri, Falerio 2014, (2015 on list) (€33), a blend of Trebbiano, Passerina and Pecorino grapes, and optional service for the pleasant waitpersons, our bill came to €117.50.
Charlotte Quay, Charlotte Quay Dock, Millennium Tower, Dublin 4.
Tel: (01) 908-9490