Meal Ticket: Matt the Thresher, Dublin 2

This self-styled seafood gastropub is doing a roaring trade and it’s easy to see why

   
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Matt the Thresher

This is a self-styled seafood gastropub, although it feels more like an airy restaurant, with a long bar, lots of booths and individual tables, and a good-sized mezzanine with more seating. It is definitely catering to tourists, so I bring two with me on a recent visit. The friendly staff are adept at offering the Oirish charm (even if many hail from further afield) and make playful jokes with my American dinner companions. They know what they’re doing – we don’t hear any Irish accents around us during the evening, and diners are lapping up the affable service.

The menu offers a wide range of Irish seafood, from Dublin Bay prawns to Dingle crab claws, Roaring Water Bay mussels to Carlingford oysters.

Matt the Thresher is known for its very good chowder (€6.95), but after a conversation about the difference between shrimp and prawns here and on the other side of the pond, my friends opt for a jumbo shrimp and lobster starter with Marie Rose sauce (€13.95). It’s served in a large martini glass, sitting on shredded lettuce. When the guffawing stops over the size of the “jumbo” shrimp, we all agree that they make up in flavour what they lack in size. The lobster, too, is sweet and tender although the lettuce is a little soggy. A kilner jar of potted smoked mackerel (€8.95) is pungent and strongly smoked and is great smeared on toasted sun-dried tomato bread with a dollop of horseradish rémoulade.

There’s a specials board for a “Seafood Weekend” that includes Dublin Pay prawns and Dingle crab claws for €24.99. This turns out to be a tiny portion of food, with no sides – and although it is good, well-cooked with lots of garlic, it’s too high a price for the portion size. Luckily, our other mains are enormous and we can’t finish them between the three of us.

A pot of Roaring Water Bay mussels (€15.95) is served with garlic bread that looks and feels as if it’s been frozen. But the mussels are fat and juicy, swimming in a good white wine and garlic sauce. Better again is a similarly sized Steaming Shellfish Pot (€19.95), a very attractive dish loaded with cockles, mussels, prawns, large crab legs and slivers of chorizo in a tangy, rich tomato broth. It’s served with more of that garlic bread, but there’s the added bonus of some surprise scallops in the pot that more than make up for it.

They’re doing a roaring trade here and it’s easy to see why as service is great and the food is mostly very good. Fixing little touches like the garlic bread or some of the higher prices would keep locals returning.