This much-loved Dublin eatery has survived two decades thanks to their ability to adapt, the loyalty of their locals and never becoming a ‘trend’

Happy Birthday Canal Bank Café! The team, including owners Trevor Browne and Gerard Foote, are celebrating the much loved Dublin eatery turning 20 this October. Canal Bank, named after its view of the Grand Canal, has been a stylish Dublin institution for the country’s top movers and shakers since they first opened their doors in 2001. Today they announced a revamped menu and the new ‘Canal Bank 20’ cocktail in celebration of the landmark birthday.

Canal Bank Café sits right on the corner of Upper Leeson Street and Sussex Road and has always boasted an atmosphere of casual sophistication and style, while never trying to be trendy. Canal Bank has lasted two decades as one of Dublin’s most loved restaurants due to the impeccable food, wine and cocktail quality, as well as the owner’s penchant to always encourage a party.

Canal Bank had humble beginnings with the menu offering everything from Shepherd’s Pie to Croque Monsieur two decades ago. Over the years, the menu has been ever-evolving to suit the tastes of the locals and emerging worldwide food styles. This October the team are celebrating their 20th year with a revamped menu. And yes, of course they are keeping their famous chicken wings, always noted as the best in town! All other client favourites are also safe alongside the newly refined and notably healthier menu, which introduces some zestier dishes such as a Fish Crudo, a Poke Bowl Salad (with a raw fish option) and Shellfish Cioppino. Inspired by a deep-dive trip to health-conscious LA restaurants, steak choices and chicken dishes will also now sharpen up with healthier, less heavy additions. 

Speaking about the updated menu, Head Chef Yvonne Mulligan, who has been designing the food offering at Canal Bank now for 15 years, said:

“We have had so many great menus over the years and the best sellers are always hard to change due to customer opposition. I have pared back what was previously a large burger and omelette section, to make way for more health conscious options like beautiful zesty salads and wonderful non-cream based pastas. We are all delighted to be back in the kitchen cooking after such a long time away and feel more inspired than ever”.

Speaking about the dining in Dublin experience today, owner Trevor Browne says:

“The Irish restaurant industry is now more competitive than ever; it is dominated by large restaurant groups, with up to 60 bars and restaurants and a never-ending supply of money, who seem to be the new rulers providing a homogeneous formula and experience. Restaurant groups from abroad are keen to capitalise on the Dublin market with budgets and fit-outs sparing nothing. We’re so happy to be celebrating 20 years today and the fact that Canal Bank has withstood the test of time and the dramatically changing landscape”.

Speaking about the menu revamp being announced today, Trevor says the decision was not all down to health reasons:

“Canal Bank’s long term customers will be happy to know that the fan favourites won’t be leaving the updated menu. Many elements have contributed to the menu change. Quality and sustainability have taken precedence. The produce available now is more artisan, with exciting ingredients that were unheard of 20 years ago. There is a big emphasis on meat quality, animal welfare and sustainability. Everyone is conscious of the increasingly fragile planet”.

“Technology too in-house has meant faster, more efficient order taking. Docket books are gone as the waiter’s tablet speaks directly to the kitchen and the POS system. Bills come faster and cash is becoming obsolete. A huge focus on perfected cocktails and a Mexican twist on brunch has ensured the younger crowd is satisfied with the variety on offer here”.  

As the menu has evolved, so too have the clientele with an eclectic group of customers noting Canal Bank as their favourite haunt. The signature Calamari, their nationwide famous chicken wings and the eclectic mixture of salads, omelettes, burgers and fish ensure that first-time customers will soon be Canal Bank regulars. In addition, a long list of celebrities have visited the restaurant over the years, many of whom note Canal Bank as their go-to spot when eating in Dublin. 

Canal Bank is a testament to the changing landscape of the restaurant industry in Ireland. In what once existed purely as a family outing or a place to meet with friends or dates, the restaurant industry has had to adapt to technology and the developing nature of peoples diets. With social media making everyone a critic, satisfying the needs of your customers is a must.

Commenting on the modernisation of restaurants, Trevor notes:

“The restaurant business has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, mostly relating to a health-conscious society and the arrival of social media. Customers constantly take pictures and record videos of what they eat, posting  on various platforms describing their restaurant experience. The ball is firmly in the court of the restaurateur to deliver the best quality possible; every dish must look and taste amazing. Presentation is now a huge factor; the meal must look photo-worthy on the plate. Ten years ago, it wasn’t polite to have your phone on the table. Now it is essential!”

Appetisers start from €9.95, Mains start from €16.95, cocktails start from €9.95 and Trevor Browne puts a huge amount of passion and time into always sourcing the best, reasonably priced house wines. Reservations can be made online at canalbankcafe.ie.

The ‘Canal Bank 20’ Ingredients and Method:

Cocktails have always been a top priority of Canal Bank, due to the trendy women who make up most of their clientele. The restaurant’s Skinny Margarita and Bloody Mary are legendary.

In celebration of the big two-oh, Head Mixologist, Sean O’Riordan, has created something really special, which he has christened the ‘Canal Bank 20’. It has an Autumnal feel to it so you will be guaranteed that warm belly feeling!

2oz Hennessey Brandy
1.5 oz Bulleit Rye Whiskey
1.5 oz Cold Pressed Apple Juice
1 oz Fresh Lime
½ oz Sugar syrup
3 x dash Angostura bitters
1 whole egg white
Lime twist

Sean states:

This is a big boozy Sour-esque Cocktail. Cold pressed cloudy apple juice is a must. Chill a large rocks glass with lots of ice. In a Cocktail shaker, add all ingredients; be sure to add the egg white last. Before adding ice, dry shake all the ingredients very well and then shake well with the ice added. This

creates a foamier, tastier cocktail. In your chilled glass, double strain then garnish with a lime twist and a few drops of bitters on top. You can then swirl using a toothpick if you’re feeling fancy!   

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