Two of us were lucky enought to be in Dublin for the weekend... we got hungry! Gruel was recommended to us by my aunt. She lives in Dublin and works in the arts, goes out for dinner often with friends and will always point you in an interesting direction. she certainly managed to do this!
Gruel was easy to find, its close to Temple Bar and has a small neon sign outside at eye level, simple to find! actually although we had been recommended Gruel we did look around at the other restaurants in the area and nothing was appealing to me.
as soon as i walked in i loved it. it reminded me of a New York diner straight away. the ground floor was full of interesting looking people, all chatting away, the kitchen was beside you as you walked in, so you could see everything was freshly prepared, the place was buzzing!
we had to wait a couple of minns to speak to the guy in charge, he popped us on a stool and asked us to wait 10 mins. i was happy to wait, it gave me a chance to peer around at everyone! shortly after we came in about 15 people followed so we were pleased to get in. after about 8 mins we were shown to our seats.
now the room itself was a bit shabby and the tables and chairs were secondhand looking, mismatched and formica style. it all added to the bohemian feel of the place.
no menus as everything was on the chalk boards on the wall.
they had about 5 starters and 7 mains. we skipped on the starters, but they were all reasonable 4-8 euros. mains ranged from 8-15 euros - excellent prices fr Dublin. service was excellent.. by no means falling over themselves but efficient and easy, again perfect for the vibe. they immediatly gave us a jug of freezing water and weren't bothered when we decided to not have anything else to drink (the drinks were listed as 'beer or wine').
i chose the grilled mackerel, with a broad bean, potato and mint salad. it arrived fresh and fast. 3 fillets of perfectly grilled fish was perfect and the salad was tasty, well seasoned and delicately minty. it was delicious and filled me up perfectly.
the sausage and mash with caramalised onion gravy my boyf had sounds like regular fare, but again it was well cooked, well seasoned and well proportioned. the small bite i could steal was again delicious.
we were out within an hour, but thats cos we were tired, i reckon you could sit there for a couple of hours with your friends and feel no pressure to head off.
i would recommend this for people watchers (there were people eating alone) and someone who wants great food with a fantastic atmosphere. it was no frills, but couldn't have been further from 'budget'.
68 Dame Street, Dublin 2.
If you are in Dublin and want to enjoy a good meal out, you could do far worse than try the Rubicon Restaurant in the centre of town. We were taken there by some friends of ours on a recent visit. They had never eaten there, but knew the owner, and as it was a special occasion (a fortieth birthday) they decided to book a table for during our visit. WHERE TO FIND IT The Rubicon is in the heart of the city of Dublin, almost next to the Shelbourne Hotel, and right opposite O’Donoghue’s Pub. It is close to St. Stephens Green. Trinity College is just a street away, and the National art gallery is just round the corner. You can park right outside the restaurant after 7 p.m., although if you aim to drink, taking a taxi is probably your best bet. WHAT SORT OF RESTAURANT IS IT? The Rubicon has a definite international flavour. Most of the dishes are served with special sauces, although one can ask for these to be omitted if requested. Fresh seasonal foods are used, so the menu varies from time to time, in order to take advantage of the different produce in season. WHAT IS IT LIKE? The Rubicon is a relatively new restaurant, and is decorated in bold colours, making it a vibrant place in which to dine. It can seat 65 people when full. There is a large open fire with comfortable settees and armchairs where you can have a pre dinner drink, or you can opt to sit there to finish your meal with a coffee (plain or Irish!) Much of the seating is in an open aspect, but we had requested a table in an alcove to the side of the main room. We had a round table, which made talking easier. Background music is not too loud, and not of the ear-splitting sort that can sometimes spoil an otherwise enjoyable night. THE SERVICE Our friends already knew the owner of the restaurant, and she came out to welcome us to our table. She stayed for a few minutes chatting, advising us on what the specials of the day wer
e, and generally going out of her way to make us feel relaxed and comfortable. The waitresses were friendly and polite, stopping for a chat every now and then, and serving our food promptly and pleasantly. Things were quickly cleared away when necessary (I think the ash tray was changed at least three times), and someone was quickly on hand if we needed anything. THE MENU The biggest headache was choosing what to have from the delicious selection. I declined a starter, but the other three in our party chose the mushroom and asparagus soup, which was served with hunks (as opposed to slices) of fresh, crusty homemade bread, both wholemeal and white. There was too much bread, but we did our best! They all declared the soup, which was quite thick, as extremely tasty. From the main courses, I finally decided on a sirloin steak (well done) with garlic butter, which was served with rosemary flavoured sauté potatoes, and shredded carrot. Hubby had the same, with a selection of seasonal vegetables (broccoli, mange tout and baby parsnips. Our friends plumped for a steamed cod dish, which was served on a bed of mint flavoured mashed potatoes, and an herb wrapped pan-fried pork loin, with grilled tomatoes and new potatoes. There was a stuffed chicken dish, poached salmon, and a variety of vegetarian dishes. Various types of potato were on offer, as was a salad selection and rice. My steak was one of the best I have had in a long while. It was well done without being charcoaled, and so tender I barely needed a knife to cut it. The others all enthused about their dishes too, and there was not much left on any of our plates when we had finished. For deserts, we chose a strawberry terrine with a fruit coulis, two fresh seasonal fruits in a champagne sauce, and I had a selection of ice creams served on a coconut biscuit base drizzled with raspberry coulis. This turned out to be a scoop each of vanilla, strawberry and REAL chocolate ice
creams, complete with pieces of delicious chocolate. I’m ashamed to say we all tried a bit of each other’s deserts as well! Such manners! Two bottles of a very smooth Merlot wine (plus my diet coke!) washed it all down a treat! THE PRICE This is rather difficult to work out, because our friends insisted on footing the bill, and the wine was “on the house” as the owner knew them. I know our friend paid around 85 Euros for the meal, so I would imagine that with wine, it would have been about 120 Euros for the four of us. I’m not exactly sure how much this translates to in sterling, but the recommendation box at the bottom of the op should work that out for me! Not a particularly cheap night, but not extortionate either. For a really good meal on a night for celebration it was well worth it. FINALLY At around 11.30 pm we suddenly realised we were the only ones left in there! We did not feel rushed or unwanted, and at no time were we made to feel that they wanted us to leave so that they could clear up! So if you are in Dublin, and want to go for a special meal, try the Rubicon. It isn’t very large, and at weekends you do have to book up in advance. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. As far as I am aware there is no website for the restaurant yet, but to book, phone 01 6765955 or fax 01 6761999 Address: The Rubicon Restaurant, 6 Merrion Row, Dublin 2 Bon Appetite!