What's in a name
Name changes can be tricky but the Seapoint Fish and Grill has pulled it off and the food is great, writes CATHERINE CLEARY
SOMEONE DIDN’T GET the memo. “Hello, Seapoint Restaurant,” they answer when I ring to book a table, even though it’s now called something different. Name changes are tricky, especially when your restaurant is in the same building run by the same people. It’s the Dún Laoghaire as Kingstown, Snickers as Marathon, June, July and August as summer syndrome. But Seapoint Restaurant is now Seapoint Fish and Grill. A simple tweak. Even they don’t seem to be making a big thing of it.
Growing up in the beach county that is Wicklow, I was always a little snooty about Dublin beaches, feeling that they were just not beachy enough – until I discovered Seapoint. There, you have the joys of a sand-free swim, bobbing in Dublin Bay with a view of the Aviva Stadium from the water. You need to get over the mortification of inching in as icy fingers of water creep under your wetsuit while a daily swimmer twice your age wades into the waves in togs and a flower-dotted swim hat. But that’s Seapoint, a place where bronzed locals lounge like lizards on the warm honey-coloured stones and swim come rain, hail or shine.
Seapoint Fish and Grill doesn’t have a view of the bay, although it is decorated with evocative paintings of bathers in the nearby choppy waves. The restaurant is on Monkstown Crescent, in one of a line of stone mews running opposite the church.
I’ve only been able to get a late table on a busy Friday night and the place is thronged and noisy, so loud in fact that it’s not until the place empties out that we can hear the piped music they’ve been playing all evening. You walk in past a large, comfortable outdoor eating courtyard under a huge black canopy. Inside, the look is modern – wooden floor, tobacco brown panelling and orange banquette seating.
The new name may sound like a casual surf-and-turf place but the food holds on to the “restaurant” feeling just as doggedly as the staff do to the name. And that turns out to be no bad thing. I’m going all-fish with a mackerel smokies starter (€7.50). It’s a small pot of robustly flavoured chunks of fish, punchy as mackerel can be, with finely chopped bites of fennel and tomato to cut the creaminess of the sauce. It’s topped with a toasty “Coolattin crust”, which is a great use of this Wicklow cheddar and comes with a good salad and thin, toasted sourdough bread so the concoction can be spread like paté. It’s always a treat to find mackerel on an Irish menu and here, this cheap, plentiful and tasty staple fish is used excellently.
The “blackboard specials” are shown on a retro pinboard set into a large mirror in the centre of the restaurant. Carol’s bruschetta of crab claws is a wonderful, finger-licking plate of fresh crab claws with more fennel and tomato and served with micro-cress (€12.50).