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Green Man Wines: Brilliant, creative food in a casual, friendly place

Review: No one’s been shouting from rooftops about this Terenure wine bar game-changer. Till now

Green Man Wines
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Address: Terenure, Dublin 6W
Telephone: (01) 559 4235
Cuisine: Irish
Cost: €€

The goddesses are smiling on me. There’s been running over sun-warmed grass in the Phoenix Park, coffee in Kennedy’s in Phibsborough, then a swim in Seapoint. Heading away from the water with the 11-year-old, we talked about going in search of a cone. And there at the top of the steps sat an ice cream van. With no queue. Dublin, you darling.

And now here’s the menu equivalent of a wish-conjured ice cream van: intriguing ideas with stellar ingredients, the priciest at €15. There’s a giddiness in the busy room. No one’s been shouting from rooftops about this wine bar game-changer but that is about to change.

It’s chef Keith Coleman’s first weekend in the new kitchen in Green Man Wines in Terenure. I got a tip off from Kevin Byrne, who runs nearby Mayfield. The food’s amazing, he said, emailing a photograph that had me reaching for a fake name and the phone.

I have a friend whose food crush for Fia in Rathgar, where Coleman last cooked, ran deep. She built the place into her day. When she found out Coleman was moving on there were, to her mortification, actual tears.


But now he’s here. For the moment. By day, Green Man Wines is a shop. They drop in the tables in the evening and kick things off around 6pm. It’s a challenge to transition from day to evening and they’re calling his arrival here a residency. A what? Coleman is here until he finds his own place. But a sous chef will stay on so the residency should grow roots and thrive.

They picked some elderflower in Wicklow a few days earlier and made house cordial, our pregnant waitress tells us. Her baby seemed to love the heady smell that filled the room when the flowers were steeped overnight. They serve it in a spritzer with a sprig of mint on ice, hedgerow in a glass. JB gets a glass of something flinty and minerally and we order half the menu, texting for a third mouth to join us so we can pretty much eat it all.

Warm sourdough bread from Scéal bakery and a nutty special butter that’s barely keeping itself solid in the sunshine kicks us off. There are Nocellara olives, fat firm Sicilian ones with Valencia almonds glistening and salted like body-oiled beauties in another bowl.

Oozy and comforting

JB nails the description as he passes over half his starter plate. The smoked Lough Neagh eel topped with pickled turnip on charred Scéal bread with butter and mustard is like the perfect Croque Monsieur, he says. It’s as oozy and comforting as sinking your teeth into the ham and cheese combination, with no ham and no cheese.

There are spears of Wye Valley asparagus charred perfectly and then laced with skin grafts of Gubbeen lardo and dotted with marigold petals. This would be great enough but then you get to a nettle sauce so green it could have been made with Irish letter-box paint and velvet smooth rather than being pimped with so much butter and cream that you lose the realness of the nettles.

The same light touch is in my bowl of Connemara mussels. There’s dandelion and Gubbeen sobrasada, nubbins of the pale sausage giving the seafood a meaty ballast like paella without the rice. The wild greens adding astringency rather than bitterness to the liquour. It comes with a soup spoon so the lovely mussels are nearly a side show. It’s all about the broth and you want to slurp it all.

There is lamb scrumpet, two finger-sized portions of the juiciest meat covered in a crisp pale panko crumb with a lovage mayonnaise that brings all the celery minerality of that great herb together with creamy flair. Onglet, that cut of beef that comes from the diaphragm and is the venn diagram where muscle meets offal, comes with quartered white turnips and is spectacular. The meat has been cooked so briefly it hasn’t tightened to sinew and yet it’s not so underdone that its organ honk hits you. It’s a hint rather than a heaviness. On another plate, slices of Goatsbridge trouthouse are cured and finished with juniper with a crème fraîche thick and silky as expensive face cream.

Finally, we share dessert with three spoons. Woodruff custard is laced with rhubarb stewed to sweet brown threads. There are strawberries on top and some buckwheat groats for crunch to finish it with crumbles of shortbread made with savoury, a woody winter herb whose flavour sits deliciously between thyme and rosemary.

As rising rents make it harder for talents like Keith Coleman to find rooms, the arrangement in Green Man Wines seems like a perfect solution. We’ve waited a long time for someone to bring wine lovers and food lovers together over plates of brilliantly creative food in a casual friendly place. This new creature may be temporary but as lovers of perfect Irish summer days, we all know those fleeting ones are the best.

Dinner for three with four glasses of wine came to €127

Verdict: A proper delight. Go now. Go often.

Music: None that I remember

Facilities: Fine

Vegetarian options: Good. Meat is a garnish so many dishes can leave it out

Wheelchair access: Yes

Food provenance: Exemplary McNally Family farm veg, Lough Neagh eel, Gubbeen meats

Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a founder of Pocket Forests