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First Look: The new Allta restaurant, bar and micro bakery in Dublin docklands

Revealed: The opening date, reservations hotline, menu and design details


The most eagerly anticipated Irish restaurant launch of 2024 is also likely to be the first of the year, when Allta opens for business in the Dublin Docklands early next month. The restaurant, bar and micro bakery is located at 1, Three Locks Square on Capital Dock in Dublin 2, a short walk from Grand Canal Dock and the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. This will be the fourth home, and the second bricks and mortar site, for the design and produce driven Allta concept from chef and owner Niall Davidson.

Previously, Derry-born Davidson, who returned from London in 2019, set up Allta in the premises off South Frederick Street in Dublin 2 that is now home to Library Street. When Covid struck in March 2020, he and his team turned to meal kits, personally delivering more than 20,000 food boxes across Ireland during the various lockdowns when courier services let them down.

Subsequently, the concept went pop-up, with the successful Allta Summer House in a stretch tent on the grounds of Slane Castle in 2021, followed by a 14-month residency in the unlikely surrounds of the Trinity Street Car Park in Dublin 2.

Opening onto the attractive urban landscape of Three Locks Square, the new restaurant has a spacious lounge, where bar snacks and drinks will be served. “If people just want to call in for a pre-theatre cocktail, or some snacks, it’s fine, I don’t want people to feel tied in to ordering a three-course meal,” says Davidson.

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In the main dining space, there is a mix of round and square oak topped tables arranged around a high-end bespoke open kitchen and separate micro bakery and dessert station. By the summer of 2024, the south facing terrace will be covered and heated, offering additional capacity.

Intended to be an all-day operation when fully up and running, Allta will serve coffee and house made pastries in the morning, a la carte lunch and dinner, as well as snacks and bar drinks and cocktails from early afternoon. Initially, it will open five days a week, rising to seven when fully operational. Davidson owns the restaurant along with his business partner Paul Dunlop, and the landlord is real estate company Kennedy Wilson.

Following on from two invitation-only nights for family and friends, on January 3rd and 4th, and a sold out 50% off food, soft opening night on January 5th for subscribers to The Irish Times Food and Drink Club, the restaurant will officially open on Wednesday, January 10th. The reservations book will open online at allta.ie at noon tomorrow, December 16th.

The new menu honours Davidson’s quest to source the best ingredients Ireland has to offer, and let them shine. Since finding and securing the new premises 12 months ago, he and some of his team have been on the road around Ireland, seeking out the best meat, fish and vegetables they could find.

A deal with Woodtown Jerseys in Co Meath, Ireland’s oldest pure-bred Jersey herd, will see the ex-dairy cows being butchered locally by Brogan’s in Athboy, with prime cuts headed to the restaurant and offcuts to Dash Burger for their smashburger patties. This collaboration ensures that the whole animal is used, supporting Allta’s sustainability goals.

Wine Tavern Farm in Co Wicklow is supplying pasture raised Oxford Sandy and Black suckling pigs. Achill Island Lamb will get some extra time on the land before making it to the menu as mutton. Seasonal wild fish are being supplied by Glenmar and Albatross Seafoods, to be cooked on the kitchen’s custom built Rhys Allen charcoal grill. Organic vegetables are being sourced from McNally Farm, Castleruddery Farm and Riverfield in Callan, Co Kilkenny, where Davidson’s grandmother was born. The menu will be seasonal and change regularly, Davidson says.

The bread course has been months in the making. Working with Seamus Jordan of Plúr Bakery, who will also supply the kitchen with some of his Irish-grown flour, Allta has developed a 40-hour fermented sourdough that will be served with butter made in-house with Jersey cream.

“It’s a very St John style menu,” Davidson says, referring to the London restaurant, where he worked in the past. There are snacks at the top, including Cromane oysters, beef tartare, pumpkin fritters, mutton empanadas - all with the delicious sauces and garnishes that Allta is known for. Then come a series of pasta dishes, such as rabbit agnolotti with mustard and tarragon, along with crudos and salads.

“As you go down the menu, the prices get bigger,” he says, referring to the sharing plates of larger cuts of meat and fish. As a price guide, small dishes are up to €12 each, with pastas, crudos and salads up to €24 and larger, to share dishes €30-€38 per person. The menu will change regularly, he says. “I want to just make sure that when you come in here, you have a snapshot of the exact season.”

The layout of the premises is broken up into distinct zones, with curtains softening the industrial vibe and providing room divisions. The lounge space and bar, open to walk-ins, is furnished with funky seating, a music corner and giant art wall that will display the work of two artists, for sale and rotating every eight weeks.

The circular bar, with 14 comfortable stools at its marble countertop, is in the centre of the room, with the dining space and open kitchen behind. A Toby Hatchett sound system wraps around the space, and the feature tiles on the back wall, which can become a private dining space, have been created by Toby’s daughter Priya.

The floor is polished concrete, in keeping with the light industrial theme, but soft oak tables, comfortable chairs and some leather banquette seating, keep it comfortable. Table settings are simple, with Riedel glassware and signed, handmade pieces by Fermoyle Pottery. The interior design concept was created by Davidson and his architect father Alistair, along with Martin Spillane of McCauley Daye O’Connell Architects. “We tried to create a space which is comfy, which is tactile, which is moody.”

Davidson’s wife Liza, who is Ukrainian and has been living in Ireland for three years, is managing sales and marketing for the restaurant, and the general manager and sommelier is Tanguy Gros Daillon, who was part of the Trinity Cark Park team and previously worked at Piglet Wine Bar. The black t-shirt grey apron clad kitchen team has Simone Tamilio as sous chef, while Davidson’s good friend, Arran McCredie, is also in the kitchen for the set up period.