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Forest Avenue Deli & Wine Bar review: The prices in this Dublin wine bar had me worried. But the menu is top quality

This place on Sussex Terrace has an impressive by-the-glass list to try

Forest Avenue Deli & Wine Bar
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Address: 8 Sussex Terrace, Sussex Road, Dublin D04C7F4
Telephone: 01 6678337
Cuisine: French
Cost: €€€

I will never understand why Forest Avenue, in its original home on Sussex Terrace, was overlooked by the Michelin Guide, and John Wyer, with his sophisticated tasting menu in the smart restaurant that he owns with his wife, Sandy Sabek, never landed a star.

I last ate there in November 2019, not long before the world was upended, after which it quickly evolved into a premium grocer and deli. Filling the gap that we never knew we had for swanky ready-made meals, it has continued as a deli by day and has recently opened as a wine bar in the evening. Forest Avenue, as we knew it, has moved into the former Forest & Marcy premises around the corner on Leeson Street, where the price of the multi-course tasting menu has ticked up to a punchy €98.

A quick glance at the sample wine bar menu online had me a little worried, a côte de porc for two for €65 sounded more pricy than casual, but joy of joys, as I sit myself down beside a shelf full of very nice bottles, I discover that it is €50 on the printed menu.

Realistically, there are two options here. Either you eat your way through all the small dishes, or make a meal of it, the pork being the only main dish. Most of the small dishes – terrines, pates and charcuterie – are what operators in the business refer to as “assembly jobs”, which is no bad thing, particularly when the menu features top quality Calabrian anchovies and jamon.


But as Wyer is in the open kitchen, I’m keen to have the pork which, apart from the very tempting dish of crispy potato paillasson, appears to be the only cook-to-order dish on the menu.

Wyer’s sourdough bread (€6) is among the best in the country, so it had to be ordered, although I realise, as a slab of duck and foie gras terrine (€15) lands with hefty pieces of toast, I may be over estimating my capacity for carbs. Die-hard fans may yearn for a few more nuggets of foie gras over the chunky bits of duck meat in this rustic terrine, but it’s full of flavour, and with a side of a celeriac remoulade, there is enough to share between two.

Our other small plate, a Comté, ham and truffle tart (€12), is as French as it gets, the glorious sweetness of onions and a touch of acidity adding to the savoury richness of the cheesy filling inside two neatly cut oblongs of golden glazed pastry. A side salad of McNally’s green leaves which tops some egg mayonnaise and dill pickles is a charming accompaniment. Sipping a glass of the house white Burgundy (€10), I speculate that a larger portion of this would be the perfect light lunch.

Bring your mates if you want to do the menu justice

While pet nats or funky natural wines are not a feature, the list here is one to love, with bottles from small organic producers and a tempting line-up of grower Champagnes which start at €22 a glass. It is wonderful to see so many options by the glass, definitely the way to go here, and it distracts somewhat from the fact that with a few exceptions, you’re looking at over €40 a bottle. But it’s not out of kilter for a list of this quality.

The pork, cooked pink, because that is what you do when you get it free range, is sweet, succulent and incredibly good with the green peppercorn gravy, which we pour over at the table, and mop up with potatoes roasted in their skins. A rectangle of confited pork belly means that there is plenty on this sharing plate for two, or even more. Bring your mates if you want to do the menu justice.

We finish with a custard tart and a side dish of poached rhubarb (€8) which is hidden beneath a delicious foam of coconut milk, gently infused with pickled ginger, cinnamon and tonka bean.

Don’t come here expecting Forest Avenue-light, the menu is most definitely geared towards small plates to graze on while you’re making your way through that wine list. But for me, there is one thing that’s perplexing. It’s as if it’s in the wrong room. With a premises around the corner at Forest & Marcy, where the long bar is made for casual dining, my sense is that if it upped sticks and relocated it would find its true spiritual home.

Dinner for two with water, four glasses of wine and an espresso was €147.50

  • Verdict A casual French menu with an impressive by-the-glass wine list
  • Facilities Smart, with handmade soap toiletries
  • Music Funk, soul and Brigitte Bardot's un jour comme un autre
  • Food provenance McNally Farm, Glenmar seafood, Winetavern Farm pork, Thornhill duck
  • Vegetarian options Five small plate options, including a vegetarian version of the Comté tart, marinated shiitake, radish and kelp; and potato paillasson. There are no vegan options
  • Wheelchair access Room is accessible with an accessible toilet
Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly restaurant column