Review: Proper, simple food in a gorgeous Dublin building

Great service and comfort food staples make this an ideal lunch spot

Sat, Oct 21, 2017, 06:15

   

Dollard & Co Bar and Grill

  • Italian

Beets the size of golf balls and ivory white leeks look airbrushed, like vegetables that have never set root in anything as mucky as soil. If they had an Instagram account these freakily perfect veg would hashtag the life out of #duguplikethis. I’m eye to eye with them in a fancy food shop about to have lunch.

A woman has circled by me twice with a basket of provisions. She looks cross, wearing the frown people get when they try to negotiate an unfamiliar grocery environment. Hostile territory to be mapped and conquered by the hunter gatherer in pursuit of dinner. 

Dollard & Co Bar and Grill is on the first floor of the Dollard building at the west end of Temple Bar beside the Clarence Hotel. Wander in off the street or the quays and you might assume this is a venerable old food hall, where quinoa and posh veg elbowed out the coddle and cabbage as the years went by.

But it’s not. It’s a box fresh threeway between Fallon and Byrne, Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel and an old country pub, where the tins of cling peaches sit on shelves beside firelighters for post-pint provisioning. 

This old printworks with its steel girders and columns once smelled of ink and hot metal. Now it’s a temple of food. Roberta’s is above us and a steakhouse called Tomahawk is under us in the basement. On this floor the tables overlooking the river are for counter service from the pizza and pasta station. At times they call out numbers on the tannoy.

“It’s a bit like the tax office,” my friend notes. Only instead of your car tax disc you collect your lunch. We’re over on the food shop side. You can sit on stools around the marble counter and watch the chefs work. From where I’m sitting they’re pressing sandwiches in a sandwich toaster so I’ll leave them in peace and sit at what one waitress calls a “high top.” 

This is a nice solid marble table with comfortable high stools. Service is great and the menu has the feel of comfort staples designed for people seeking if not a food hug then a bit of a food hand-holding after the night before. 

Simple, well-executed dish

So my crab and lobster omelette comes with cubes of potato fried into it, not as many as you’d get in a frittata but enough to give a carby comfort to this simple, well-executed dish. The eggs have the fluffy nutty taste of eggs that were cracked from their shells rather than poured from a bottle and the whole lot is finished with a blizzard of just-grated Parmesan. It’s the food you’d cook at home if your home was next to a farmer’s market somewhere on the Amalfi coast. 

My friend is stringing out his recent Italian holiday with a plate of the house pasta. Today’s is tagliatelle, properly silken and fresh, a generous portion coated in a perfect slick of spicy tomato sauce with crispy bacon bits for crunch and salt. 

A side salad is the usual mix of good leaves jazzed up with lovely pickled cucumbers and red onions. The side order of fries (we’re taking a sheep as a lamb approach to carbs) are skin on and just the right proportions of crispness to fluff.  

Desserts are more coffee shop glass cabinet standard than the more stellar mains. There’s a wedge of Guinness cake so dense it could stop a runaway keg on a steep hill. A strawberry cheesecake is topped with slices of strawberry held captive in a perky red strawberry jelly. 

Desserts aside, I think this is my favourite Pressup Group food venture so far. I’ve looked down my nose at their other pricey menus that promise memorable food and then fail to deliver. Too many of them feel like they could be bars and restaurants in any city.

But Dollard & Co Bar and Grill (or Dollard Grill Room as they call it on the menu) feels more like a proper slice of Dublin focused on delivering simple and well done rather than trendy and Instagrammable. A lot of the appeal is down to the gorgeousness of the building. (It is mind-boggling that these rooms drenched with river light were left so long in dusty silence.) I don’t know that I’ll be doing the weekly shop in the curated food aisles but I’d happily pull up a stool and admire the view over lunch. 

Verdict: 7.5/10 Good food in a fancy food hall 

Lunch for two with dessert and coffee came to €57.20

Dollard and Co, East Essex Street, Dublin 2

Facilities: Fine

Music: Nice. Joni Mitchell when we visited

Food provenance: Good. Doon Castle oysters, óhArtagáin brown bread, Gold River Farm salad leaves

Wheelchair access: Yes

Vegetarian options: Very limited

Grover Road coffee shop

Grove Road is a warm and handsome corner coffee shop on the busy junction at Rathmines Bridge in Dublin that I’ve passed many times, usually in a hurry somewhere else. I pulled up a window seat and had a good bowl of carrot and coriander soup there while people watching the runners, walkers, cyclists, buggy pushers and scooter riders flow by. Coffee comes from Roasted Brown and their banana bread comes with a sweet crust of toasted walnuts on top. Music is pretty groovy too, a nice soundtrack to the people watching. 

Grove Road 1 Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin 6 (01) 544 6639