It is one of those evenings when you feel a bit like a tourist in your own town, taking in each shop front as you stroll by, looking for signs of somewhere that has changed hands, with the possibility that it may become yet another restaurant. Where better to wander than Dublin’s Camden Street, home to Delahunt, Hang Dai and Mister S, the start of a stretch that runs all the way into town, or indeed, is already “town”, but with a neighbourhood feel.
Outside Frank’s, the former pork butchers with its original sign in place, most of the seats are already taken, but inside there is still room at the broad sweep of a communal table with 20 high stools. It is one of the few rooms in Dublin that has been designed to be a wine bar, and in the minimalist style of P Franco, the spiritual home that spawned much of the natural wine bar scene in London, there are just two induction hobs and a plancha for cooking.
David Bradshaw, who worked in one Michelin star Lyle's in London before returning to Dublin and working in Clanbrassil House, is the tall, slightly shy chef leaning over that hob, and his one-pager is that rarest of things, an accessibly priced menu. It starts with sizable bowls of marinated olives (€3.50) and smoked almonds (€4), and tops out at €16 for a large portion of pasta.
Our plan is to work our way through the small plates, and make a dent in the wine list, which has 18 wines by the glass, all in the low intervention stable. The pours are 125ml, ranging from €7 for a vinho verde to €12 for a Jura chardonnay at the top end of the scale, so you’re looking at the equivalent of €32-€72 for a bottle, which is reasonable for the quality on offer here.
Cold plates include charcuterie (€12) – Bayonne ham, saucsisson and pickles – which is fine but rudimentary, but what does stand out are the crudités with sauce garrigue (€9). It’s a burst of summer colour, raw radishes, carrots, elongated tufts of radicchio from Treviso, and butter-coloured Castelfranco radicchio leaves speckled with magenta. All of this is waiting to be dipped into the sauce garrigue, a featherlight emulsion which is assertively scented with bay, rosemary, marjoram, sage and thyme, and just a background note of anchovy. It is as joyous as it is delicious, particularly with a glass of Tuffeau sparkling wine (€7.50).
Golden croquettes (€8), oozing smoky scamorza, ’nduja and cauliflower, are dipped in romesco sauce, and a Hegarty’s cheddar crumpet (€4.50) – crumpets being the dish of the moment – arrive in a cloud of micro-planed cheese and ramson flowers. The crumpets would have benefited from just a little more cooking, and the topping of cabbage, which has been cooked into a delicious savoury submission, is just a shade over-seasoned. Tagliatelle (€12) arrives steaming hot, with fresh peas as sweet as the dew, garlic mustard adding complexity, but again, there is just a tad too much salt.
The final lap is one of true glory. Bradshaw’s baked cream with blackberry granita, from his time in Clanbrassil House, got my dessert of the year in 2021, and once again, I am stunned by the delicacy and poise of his desserts. An ethereal buttermilk ricotta ice-cream is topped with a flowering currant granita (€8), the variegated ruby crystals glistening like uncut gems, the acidity from finely chopped rhubarb rippling through from beneath. It is so delicious with a glass of vermouth (€4).
An elderflower creme brûlée (€4.50) is seductively rich. It is more like a Basque cheesecake with its soft charred top, and fermented honey cuts it with an unexpected sharpness. The Niepoort Ruby Port (€5.50), recommended by Chloe Carthy, who has been looking after us nicely, is a lovely pairing.
There is a subtle fineness to how Bradshaw cooks. Yes, there are some early days mistakes, but they are easily sorted. You get the sense that this is a young chef who is settling in, bringing a truly original take to his dishes, using wild produce he has foraged, such as mustard garlic and flowering currant. The dishes change regularly and there’s no pressure to commit to a certain number of plates or order everything at the same time. It’s about enjoying the vibe, the wine and the really delicious food. But it’s walk-in only, so be sure to get there early.
Dinner for two with two glasses of wine, plus a Port and a vermouth, was €79.50
- The verdict: You'll want everything on this menu and wine list
- Facilities: Smart, with Rituals products
- Music: Good sound system and cool tunes
- Food provenance: Glenmar, Artisan Foods, Redmond's, Sheridan's, Caterway, La Rousse, foraged garlic mustard in the pasta dish and the flowering currant in the dessert
- Vegetarian options: Crudités, Hegarty's cheddar crumpet and a pasta option which changes regularly; vegan options with advance notice
- Wheelchair access: The room and toilet are accessible but tables are above regular wheelchair level