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Dillinger’s review: Dining midweek at this grown-up neighbourhood favourite is a bargain

You may find you run up the bill here with add-ons, but it all contributes to a very pleasant evening out

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Address: 47 Ranelagh, Dublin 6, D06 HR84
Telephone: 01 497 8010
Cuisine: Modern International
Cost: €€€

It’s easy to forget that Dillinger’s was once home to Mint, Dylan McGrath’s 36-seat fine dining restaurant, where the walls of the gnat-sized kitchen were so thin you could hear every sound. Much has changed, McGrath is now known more for mentoring than Michelin stars, and the diner vibes John Farrell brought to the premises when he opened Dillinger’s in 2009 are gone. It has had a smart revamp, both the room and the menu, and is considerably more grown-up. As indeed this neighbourhood is, with its many Boomers pushing the numbers up on the retired demographic in the latest census.

There is still brunch available at the weekend, and if you want a casual bite you can drop in for a burger and a pint. But the menu now is more about pasta, which is made fresh in-house each day, and seafood and meats cooked over coals on a Big Green Egg barbecue grill. It has also got more of a neighbourhood vibe with a bimonthly Supper Club, where locals and industry workers in the area come together for a ticketed, themed night out, perhaps fundraising for charity.

Cocktails are still very much part of the menu (two-for-one on Sundays could be a dangerous way to end the weekend), and the high stools by the bar are lined up for walk-ins. It’s a Tuesday night when I visit, a night when many of the city’s restaurants are closed but Dillinger’s runs a compelling offer. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, whole Dover sole on the bone is on the menu at €45 for two people, served with a caper sauce and a choice of two sides.

Wines start at €40, a price point that is increasingly the norm. It is a shortlist and, while not notably creative, it does the job. So a crisp Rula Feiticeira Albarino (€46) is called upon to accompany our fish.


But first, something to whet the appetite for the main course, crudo of blue fin tuna (€18). The slices of raw fish are fresh tasting, dressed in a soya sauce and Shaoxing wine marinade that could do with a spritz of citrus to bring out the flavours of the tiny cubes of apple and cucumber, spring onions and coriander micro leaves. The goat’s curd tortellini (€16) are sizeable, bathed in brown butter flavoured with sage and dusted with micro-planed cheese, tea-soaked raisins and pine nuts.

Sole on the bone is one of my favourite fish dishes. Its flesh is deliciously delicate and sweet, and when the skirt has been trimmed off properly, there are no extraneous little bones. It arrives to our table, burnished gold, strewn with capers, finely-diced chives and two sprigs of thyme, with a little of the foaming butter splashing down on to the fish. Would we like to have the fish removed from the bone, our waiter asks? I am happy to do it myself as I quite enjoy lifting the cartoon-like skeletal bones off the fish.

However, I soon notice that I have chosen to miss part of the show. A folding table is brought to the table beside us just a few moments later and the whole process is performed tableside with a nice bit of ceremony.

Our fish is cooked beautifully and is accompanied by a small copper saucepan of the caper sauce that has a perfectly judged butter to acid ratio. Our side of fries is tasty if not remarkable, and the substantial salad with pickles is fresh and crunchy, dribbled with dressing.

To finish, there are just two options – dessert or cheese – so we share a caramel bread and butter pudding (€9), an indulgent, totally delicious interpretation of this simple dish, with the added richness of caramel and creamy custard.

While restaurant costs have rocketed to an alarming degree since we emerged from the pandemic, savvy operators see the benefit of filling those midweek tables. Orwell Road in Rathgar now offers a neighbourhood menu from Tuesday to Thursday, offering for two courses for €30, or three for €38, available from 5pm-6pm.

Eating out on a Tuesday or a Wednesday somehow seems to fit wonderfully with a more laid back summer vibe, when picnics and barbecues take precedence at the weekends. You may find you run up the bill at Dillinger’s a little with add-ons to your sole on the bone dinner, but it all contributes to a very pleasant evening out.

Dinner for two with a bottle of wine was €135.

The verdict: A sole on the bone bargain.

Music: Great play list – Odyssey, José James, Richenel and the likes.

Food provenance: John Stone beef; fish from Wright’s of Marino; Kish Fish; La Rousse; and Caterway.

Vegetarian options: Goat’s curd tortellini and king oyster mushroom with beer battered shimeji. Vegan option on brunch menu only.

Wheelchair access: Accessible room with no accessible toilet.

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

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