This year’s Christmas lights raised more than a few eyebrows when the ‘Nollaig Shona Duit’ sign was replaced with ‘Welcome To The Grafton Quarter’ leaving some that outraged they are even putting pressure on the city council to interfere. Dublin Town, who have the monster job of organising and erecting the lights on 30 streets say the idea behind the change is in directing more traffic to the shops in and around Grafton Street over the festive period, and who can argue with that?
Whatever your view, the collection of smaller lanes and streets that surround Ireland’s number 1 shopping destination are famous for their great bars and restaurants. A glance down the Royal Hibernian Way from Grafton Street and you will set your eyes on Lemon & Duke.
The second venture of Noel Anderson and the rugby star quartet of Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien and The Kearney brothers having previously opened The Bridge 1859 in 2014 in Ballsbridge. Like The Bridge, L&D serves unpasteurised tank beer from Urquell Pilsner which is stored in two massive copper tanks above the bar that wouldn’t look out of place in a distillery.
The website describes the bar as Dublin meets New York “perfect for a morning coffee or weekend brunch, evolving seamlessly into a late-night venue, perfect for dinner followed by drinks and dancing“. The snug area is stylish and inviting with its shiny red tiles giving the resemblance of an upmarket Manhattan comedy club. During the day light pours in the large windows although as the sun disappears the bar is quite dark but with plenty of modern mood lighting means you don’t feel like you’re shopping in Hollister. On this wet Wednesday evening, it is loud with laughter and warm conversations in out of the icy streets as people start the festive season and the difference between school-nights and weekends becomes a grey area.
The olden days of The Grafton Lounge are well gone and things seem to have quietened down slightly on this corner of Duke lane but Christmas parties and corporate bookings are a speciality at L&D with cocktail making and gin tastings classes, one way to team build. Areas can be booked with finger food and drinks receptions available or for something more formal, how about a set dinner for up to 40 people?
We did see a platter arrive out to a table beside us and it held my gaze for more than a notable glance. In my view, there was Miniature burgers with burnt onion aioli, Babyback ribs with kecap manis, Sea salt and orange pepper calamari and some wings which I decided to order myself from the a la carte.
Service was outstanding and our waiter was once again onhand to suggest only ordering a small portion €8.5 as we had mains to follow and the large was a meal in its own right. So we took his word and were adequately satisfied with what came, although I could have easily kept going after I had a taste for the hoisin, chilli and honey that coated the chicken. The Vegan shitake risotto was good €15 and the Korean spice corn-fed chicken €20 a decent dish but I felt like it was missing something and was accompanied by a mountain of sweet potato mash. Dessert was delicious though coming in the shape of a Pistachio crème brûlée €6.5 and our top picks of the evening all came from the cocktail list. Ne Me Quitte Pas €12 translates to ‘don’t leave me’ and true to its name it made me stay for one more. Method and Madness Fusion €15 was one for my fellow whiskey lovers and the sparkling Peach & Passion Punch €14 was another crafty creation that went down with ease.
It’s the time of year when big coats and brollies are essential but Lemon & Duke is warm, inviting and perfectly located for that Christmas catch up or deserving cocktail after a day shopping this December.
Lemon & Duke
1 Royal Hibernian Way,
Duke Lane Upper,
(01) 679 6260