“ Address: 119 St Stephen's Green / Dublin 2 / Ireland „
Some restaurants are legendary - and then there is Shanahans. This place is what legends are made of, and deservedly so.
Ask any foodie or businessman where to go for a good steak in Dublin and there's only one answer, Shanahans on the Green. Granted, Shanahans won't be on the lips of your average tourist or Beefeater diner as it's not a cheap place to eat but is it worth a trip (and the inevitable big bill)?
Situated on St Stephen's Green in the heart of Dublin and housed in a Georgian building Shanahan's shouts class from the off.
Shanahans is owned by John Shanahan, an Irish American. Mr Shanahan and his family have succeeded in bringing an authentic American steak and fish house to Ireland but have somehow managed to put it in a great Irish historical setting. This blend of culture and history is a theme that you will see repeated throughout your evening (or lunch!).
Many diners will start their Shanahans experience downstairs in the "Oval Office". This euphemistically named room (great for putting those not in the know off the scent of what you are really up to) is Shanahans downstairs bar. There's a slightly retro feel to the area and it's a room that will forever remind me of certain London clubs (of the Gentleman's rather than night variety). Low backed leather furniture mixes with Georgian décor to provide a relaxed, yet strangely formal setting. History abounds with original documents on the wall and even JFK's rocking chair from Air Force One! Service in the bar is at the table and is efficient. It's not really a place for a pint (although Guinness and Ales are served) - it's more a pre-prandial place!
Moving up to the restaurant you feel a real sense of history. The tables are set with crisp napery and polished flatware. The twinkle of the softlight on the glasses sets the whole off. Tables are well-spaced although you've not got that much privacy here - the room simply isn't large enough. If you do require private dining, however, there are facilities.
One glance at the menu will tell you that this isn't your average European menu. You'll notice that the description of steak and fish restaurant is wholly accurate although you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a STEAK and fish restaurant as the emphasis is firmly on the bovine.
The starters do tend to be fish dishes and every time I've dined the fish has been cooked to perfection and has tasted very fresh. The "Oysters Rockefella" are particularly good with the marriage between the molluscs, spinach and bacon perfectly balanced and set off with Pernod and hollandaise.
How ever much of a fish lover you are, one cannot come to Shanahans and ignore the steak. Sourced from Irish Angus cows the steaks are, if you are that way inclined, to die for! Steaks are broiler cooked allowing for seared exteriors and perfectly juicy and moist interiors. The chef will recommend how each steak should be cooked (which will tend to the rare) but, of course, one is free to state exactly how you would like it cooked and, without exception, all steaks have been done exactly to order.
Before you dine at Shanahans (and, before you select your starter) you should be aware that portions here are most definitely not for the feint-hearted. Forget nouvelle cuisine. Think rather of Texas and the gargantuan portions that one associates with the USA. Shanahans smallest steak, the petit filet is an 8oz steak and, to be honest, is about the size of most steaks offered as a steak and chips menu in a pub. The difference is in the taste - pure heaven. Steaks then increase in size right up to the 24oz bone in rib. OK, so the bone weighs something but heck, this is one BIG steak. The perfect marbling leads to flavoursome, melt-in-the-mouth meat but you'll be pushing most people to finish it!
The sides at Shanahan deserve their own mention. Steaks are served as is. You might get a sauce, but no sides as standard. However, the sides list is impressive. Shanahans fries are the best I've tasted this side of the pond. Cooked to perfection and perfectly seasoned, the crisp outsides yield to fluffy centres. Onion strings (sic) are plentiful and not at all greasy. Creamed spinach with bacon is perfect. Again, portions are huge and so, if dining in a large group it's best to order as a table rather than individually - 3 sides will be more than enough for 4 diners. Half-portions can be ordered and will be advised by waiting staff as appropriate.
If you make it through the mains then you might just have to make room for desserts. These visual masterpieces taste as good as they look. Thankfully they're not as huge as the mains but provide the perfect light balance to the end of the meal. The banana soufflé comes particularly recommended.
Shanahans sommelier should be available in every restaurant! Recommendations have always been spot on and, as with all good sommeliers, account is taken both of taste and price requirements, wine being perfectly matched to the food ordered. The wine list is comprehensive with more than a cursory nod to wines from the USA (as might be expected). Prices are high but the mark-ups no worse than elsewhere. You can, should you wish, bring in your own wine but at 30Euro corkage you'd be advised not to!
Service at Shanahans is superb. It's not silver service as one might expect, opting instead for a more informal dining experience (again a reflection of the cultural marriage) but service is nonetheless attentive. Staff will attend to every whim and doggy bags will be provided!
Price is the thing that keeps most people away - this is not a cheap dining experience. Expect a bill of around Euro 100-150 per person as a minimum. Is it worth is? Well, yes, I'd say it was. For superb food, an excellent atmosphere and a great Irish American time!
This is a place you have to understand. The marriage of Ireland and America, history and culture, food and wine is one to be appreciated. Forget the cost, for you will, long before you forget the food!
American Style Steakhouse & Seafood.