A few months back we wrote a piece about an exciting new opening and how the restaurant scene, particularly in Dublin has evolved into a space where diners expect a lot more than just a good feed. More and more restaurateurs are saying how people want an experience, something unique, a reason to get off the sofa and spend their hard-earned cash in their venue. No surprise then that we have seen the birth of a new breed of venue popping up. Casual dining is still king but the punters need something a little different to keep them coming back, this has led to many chefs re-evaluating the direction they are going in.
A perfect case in point is well know chef Oliver Dunne, never one to shy away from speaking his mind, Dunne has been very vocal on the “curse of Michelin” and how obsessed many chefs become chasing the coveted star, he himself was the youngest Michelin star chef in Ireland back in 2008 with his award-winning Malahide institute Bon Appetit. In 2015 Dunne gave up his star and hung up his fine dining boots, he had a new focus, a simple focus, give them great food and a great time. No fuss, no formality. He brought this concept to his second venue Cleaver East in the Clarence Hotel, known to have one of the best brunches in the city and just before Christmas Dunne opened his third location Beef&Lobster.
The old saying the clue is in the name couldn’t be more apt here. Only a stones throw from The Clarence situated at the top of Parliament St, it was hard to miss their Hollywood style name in lights as we rocked up last Saturday. Unlike many of its neighbours that night, we arrived to a full house and a buzzing dining room, a great complaint at the end of January, one of the hardest weeks for any venue to fill. First things first if you don’t like beef and you don’t like lobster than this is not for you. When you choose to take a punt on only two main staples you better make damn sure you do them well.
We started off with a couple of cocktails from the bar, “Dry January” my arse judging by the amount of imbibement going on around us, not that we were complaining. Similar to most new venues we have visited lately, the music plays a big part here. It’s a fun vibe, with decent tunes, but not to the point your lobster fork will be vibrating off the table.
Dunne saw an opening in the market the he visited Burger & Lobster in London and straight away felt the capital city was missing out on a similar concept. With the Irish having a long-standing love affair with a good old steak he decided to hedge his bets with Beef & Lobster. The menu is short and sweet, one starter (although this will rise to four next month as they expand the kitchen) two beef mains and two lobster with a house speciality option of Turf ’n’ Surf.
We kicked off with the Beef Carpaccio (€10) to share which definitely exceeded expectations, Hereford beef, dressed simply with shaved parmesan, crispy capers and a heap of wild rocket. We think it was the heavenly roast onion mayo hidden beneath that made it memorable for all the right reasons.
When you think of a beef or lobster dish you automatically think – expensive. Dunne has tried to keep the cost down and ingredients simple whilst still offering excellent produce. At €22 our first main of Whole Lobster was beyond good value. Whole grilled and served with a lemon and garlic butter to drizzle, this was beyond claw some (had to get a pun in somewhere). The addition of sweet potato fries and Dunne’s secret slaw packed with cabbage, cashew nuts and pomegranate were demolished in record time, there is no pretty way of eating a whole lobster you have to just get stuck in and fish out every last nugget of meat. It was washed down with a decent glass of crisp Salter Albarino (€8.50) from the Rias Baixas region of Spain.
Across the table arrived an impressive fillet steak cooked medium to rare which was a succulent cut and seemed to be a popular choice on the night. No Surf n Turf (€35) is complete without a sea-faring friend, in this case a grilled, half of lobster. This is a hearty plate of food that will easily please the masses.
We threw all out New Year resolutions out the window and opted for a desert each, although you can choose from some of their delicious sounding dessert cocktails if the mood takes you. A dish we haven’t seen on a menu in quite some time – Profiteroles (€6.50) was the first choice, slightly nostalgic with no fancy innovation just lashings of chocolate sauce with a sprinkling of hazelnuts for good measure.
Last up was a time honoured deliciously sticky Apple Tart Tatin (€6.50), this little French classic served with vanilla ice cream and a salted caramel sauce was a fitting end to a great evening.
The wine list at Beef&Lobster has been separated into a small list of easily paired whites for the lobster and reds for the beef, seeing a theme here? This is not a restaurant to go to if you want to analyse the menu or show off your what a wine geek you are, it is one where you can sit back with simple tasty choices in a fun atmosphere and be looked after by staff that you feel really enjoy being there.
Beef&Lobster is a refreshing addition to the city, one that has garnered a loyal following quickly and it’s easy to see why at these prices. Start beating a path …
Dinner for two including two cocktails and two glasses of wine came to €116.50