They definitely put the Miracle Gro in the hanging baskets of Dalkey this year. Maybe it was for Michelle’s benefit but the south Dublin village now has more petunias per head of population than anywhere else on the planet. And on a summer’s evening Dalkey looks so lovely it could have been made by a sugar crafter and then Instagram-ed.
DeVille’s is a new restaurant joining a long strip of casual restaurants and takeaways. It’s run by brother and sister Dave and Kim O’Driscoll, who named it after their great-grandmother, according to the press release, which says the siblings have worked in Dublin restaurants like Locks Brasserie, Ely Wine Bar and the Green Hen. It also says DeVille’s is a French bistro meets a New York steakhouse in the same paragraph as the word “innovative”. This is fine if you like your innovation to be as comfy as a pair of old slippers. Because these are two of the biggest cliches in the restaurant world. There are probably more wannabe French bistros and New York steakhouses than originals at this point. But no harm. Let’s not judge a restaurant by its mission statement.
Inside it’s black and white tiled floors, a claret-painted ceiling, comfy leather banquetted nooks, seating at the bar and two of the best tables, which are in the windows overlooking the street. I find my Mum in a quiet corner with Bono and the band, or a black-and-white photograph of them looking young and moody. Elvis sits on the other side and some film posters complete the decor. The service is great, waitresses with a neatly folded white tea towel tucked into the back of their white aprons. And the menu looks promising.
It does feature another ubiquitous restaurant staple the beetroot and goat’s cheese salad. (The question of what vegetarians who don’t like goat’s cheese eat in this town is beginning to keep me awake at night.) But it arrives at the table stylishly-done. There’s a luscious, chin-dribbling ripe fig quartered and sitting around some good fresh leaves that have been sprinkled with a light salty goat’s cheese that’s not going to offend anyone. No honk of the herd off it. Good cubes of beetroot work well and it’s tasty. I get the lamb’s kidneys which is innovative. They’re perfectly cooked like the meaty petals of a rose made from innards, dropped onto sour dough toasts and topped with a tangy brown sauce. The only down side is that the toasts are soggy in the middle.
From the nice wine list we go for two Languedoc wines by the glass, a cabernet sauvignon Main á Main and a Colombard Ugni Domaine La Cabasse. Tap water arrives in a carafe and is refreshed regularly.
Mains are not so sure-footed. The petit-filet, or ladysteak as we dub it, is fine but a little too charred. Granted it was ordered medium-to-well before I can (gently) kick my mother under the table and warn her that this can be licence to blacken. My hake is not a good piece of fish. It has a damp greyish finish to the flesh which sits on top of some pureed mash which is glistening with butter. The samphire on the plate is nice but not as fresh as the portion I had with my starter. The hake is topped with a strange slice of herbed stuffing that’s so lemony it’s gone from the pleasant end of the citrus party to the bitter and twisted. The weirdest part of the plate is a squeeze of honey around the edge with a ring of half cherry tomatoes and fried mussels. Honey and hake? Not for me.
Dessert is fine, a shared plate of three small portions, which is a nice tapas approach to sweets. There’s a good hazelnut brownie, excellent raspberry panna cotta and a lemon tart served with a shot glass of espresso.
DeVille’s is a nice, professionally run neighbourhood restaurant. But it bugs me to get a poor piece of a fish in a seaside village. A true innovation would be to forget New York and Montmartre and serve it fresh from the boats, Dalkey-style.
Dinner for two with two glasses of wine came to €78.50.
THE VERDICT: Some good cooking here but its fish offering needs work
DeVille’s 25 Castle Street, Dalkey, Co Dublin, tel:01-284 9071
Facilities: Hotel swish standard
Music: Nice jazz and pop
Food provenance: Oysters from Carlingford, mussels from Bantry
Wheelchair access: Yes