A new dining direction in Dublin's docklands

Food File: Change your own vodka to gin; or sample Bombay Pantry’s new vegan venture

The installation of a wood-burning cooker (it’s actually run on Irish charcoal made from sustainable wood) has precipitated a change in direction and a design overhaul at Ely Bar & Grill in the Dublin docklands.

There’s a slight name tweak, too, with Grill now replacing Brasserie in the title to reflect the new emphasis on grilled meats, including beef, organic pork, and Burren lamb, cooked on the German-made stove.

There are now six cuts of steak on offer, three of them on the bone, and all of it dry-aged for up to 28 days under the supervision of co-owner Erik Robson’s dad, Hugh, who runs the family’s organic farm in Co Clare.

A predinner bread selection is served with house-made labna (also spelled labneh) and pesto. The labna – a tangy, creamy spread made with yogurt – is outstanding. Chef Ryan Stringer makes it with Greek-style yogurt from Co Tipperary, mixed with a little salt, wrapped in cheesecloth and hung over a bowl in the fridge overnight. The whey separates from the creamy curd, which can then be used as it is, or, as Stringer suggests, seasoned with lemon juice or spices.


The Atrium bar has had a design overhaul too, with a lots of dark wood, exposed brick and the addition of two striking Shady Lady trees, currently bedecked with twinkly Christmas lights.

Every Saturday between now and Christmas, there’s a special deal on dinner for two from the early-bird menu, with a bottle of Alta Vista Premium Malbec 2016 or Domaine des Brosses Sancerre 2016, for €99.

Vodka to gin: a Christmas miracle

Bring a touch of magic to Christmas by turning vodka into gin, with the help of an Irish gift company. Sisters Bernie Everard and Trish Clyne have an interesting selection of gifts in their online shop, splate.ie, which they run from Maynooth, Co Kildare.

Everard is an artist working with slate, and several of their gifts combine her work with Irish artisan food. They have also sourced quirky gifts such as the gin kit (€54.95), with which you can transform an ordinary bottle of vodka into an aromatic gin, using your preferred botanicals.

They also offer a homemade cheese kit (€11.96), which can turn milk into mozzarella and ricotta cheese in just over an hour. The kit also includes a slate plate on which to present the cheese.

Everard’s slate work also crops up in the December edition of their Artisan Box, a monthly delivery of food and craft that can be purchased in three-, six- or nine-month blocks, at €50 a month. The Christmas box contains a Foods of Athenry pudding, G’s preserves brandy butter, Skelligs truffles, Lismore biscuits and four slate coasters.

Dylan McGrath mixes it up with cocktail business

Bonsai Bar is the latest venture from chef Dylan McGrath, whose gradual move from the coalface of the kitchen to business owner with five food concepts and two bars in Dublin continues apace. Next spring he will open Shelbourne Social in the One Ballsbridge development in Dublin 4, which will also be home to an Avoca outlet.

Bonsai Bar is a cocktail lounge with interesting bar nibbles, all Japanese-inspired. It takes up the middle floor, above Rustic Stone and below Taste at Rustic, in the premises on the corner of South Great George’s Street and Exchequer Street.

Bombay Pantry introduces vegan menu

Bombay Pantry, which is celebrating 20 years in business in Dublin, is embracing the increasing popularity of vegan food with the introduction of a special menu featuring five snacks, six small plates, three salads and three main courses catering to the vegan diet.

Kerala vegetable curry is one of the best-selling new dishes the company has ever launched, according to managing director Yvette Fidgeon. The new menu additions also include vegan-friendly smoky cauliflower, masala fries, and a main course, chana takari, made with vegetables, chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, amchor (mango powder) and house-blend panch poran, a five-spice mix of cumin, mustard seeds, fenugreek, nigella and fennel.

There are seven Bombay Pantry branches, across Dublin, which each deliver within a four-mile radius. bombaypantry.com