Meal Ticket: La Maison, Dublin 2

Close your eyes and you could almost – almost – be in Paris

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La Maison

A rare fine evening had the city scrambling for a sunny seat for dinner recently. While I wait on my dinner date on the terrace of La Maison, I count no less than five other groups pleading – to no avail – for a table. Aperitifs always taste better when you’ve remembered to book a table.

Everything about La Maison is French. Very, very French: the décor, the waiters, the heavy napkins, the tiny tables perfect for an intimate tête-à-tête – and the menu, which is liberally doused in wine, cream and classics such as Escargots Beurre a l’Ail, (snails in garlic butter) €11.50 and Patés Maison (the house patés – a pork rillete, chicken liver parfait, chunky country terrine and pickles), €9.50.

The menu is split into entrees, fish, meat and sides. The assiette méditerranéenne is a good shared starter: a large platter of fresh bread surrounded by bowls of olives, pickles, salsa, sun blushed tomatoes and cheese - a generous serving for €8.50. Fish mains include turbot and a special of black sole (a pricey €33) while carnivores are offered more classic French dishes such as Coq au vin, duck breast and a Côte de boeuf for two (€59).

Our mains are very attractive: the monkfish (€23) comes perched atop a bright orange shellfish and chorizo risotto with asparagus and samphire. The risotto is good, with a dense paprika and chorizo smokiness, but the monkfish is slightly overcooked and chewy. A better option is the poêlée de la mer (€18.50), a copper skillet crammed with large chunks of cod, salmon and potato, fat mussels and slivers of tomato in a frothy white-wine sauce. The fish is fresh and flaky, falling into the sauce that requires more bread to mop up every last drop.

Portions are large so we forgo sides, which themselves are sizable but a skillet of roast potatoes on the next table looks very good indeed. Seating inside is over two floors . Downstairs is more charming, though slightly crowded, but the terrace seats make for the best experience. Close your eyes and you could almost – almost – be in Paris.