Food & DrinkGrub Spy

Gastro grub in The Exchequer raises the bar again

Gastro grub in The Exchequer raises the bar again

I’m meeting a friend at The Exchequer bar today.

And since I haven’t had the pleasure for quite some time, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with both of them

In its present guise the Exchequer has been around for about five years and I’m keen to find out how its gastro-action is getting on.

There are a couple of things I’ve always liked about this bar.

First off, it conveniently sits on a mega-busy corner of the city which makes it one of the best places for a meet-up and a pleasant snifter or two.

Also, it has what I call “a convivial drinkspiration vibe” which the hipster-ish clientele partake in with real gusto. 

We arrive late in the afternoon and it’s virtually empty, but the vibe is still there, chipper and smiley all the same. 

In the past the Exchequer’s food – much like the food in most of our gastro-pubs – was largely of the trustworthy and solid variety without any boring bummer bits added on.

I am pleased to say the menu is now full of engaging promise and outré cool fast food. I could go on all day about how a menu reads, but it’s in the gob where it counts.

A corn chowder with sourdough bread is a jug of creamy heaven which, while not joltingly brilliant, will give most soup lovers a fair run for their money.

The fishy Ling fingers are crisp, long, and hot.

They arrive with big fat-drenched chips, a splodge of velvety pea purée, and some good old course-chopped tartar sauce.

It’s the type of hearty grub you might chat about later over a friendly pint, “Jaysus now, what about those feckin fish and chips, great or what!” 

Then we try a roast beetroot and goat’s cheese tartlet.

When a kitchen pulls this tedious old shtick out of the doldrums they’re okay in my book.

A puddle of beetroot purée and the sweet cherry tomatoes work especially well as does the bunch of peppery rocket.

Eating it is a shared pleasure – although maybe the kitchen might rein-in just a smidge with the goat’s cheese.

Still, miracles do happen. I could get to like this formerly hated sourpuss of a thing.   

The low point is the desserts, or I should say dessert, as we only try the passion fruit panna cotta.

This is a case of grievous bodily harm on an innocent pud.

Not only does it look ridiculous stuck on the bottom of a jam-jar, a boulder of rock-hard ice cream is rammed in on top.

It defies access and logic – and sprinkling it with pellets of un-ripened mango only makes a complete horlicks of it.   

Overall, though, there’s not much I can whinge about here.

This is gastro-pub-grub that doesn’t do anything more than it says on the tin – and that’s not a criticism.

Once upon a time eating in Dublin pubs was more an act of bravery than a culinary choice.

Now, thanks to The Exchequer and their ilk, those dark hungry days are behind us and we chill and can eat to our hearts’ content.

The Exchequer 4/5 STARS

3-5 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2. Ph: (01) 670 6787.