It’s directly across the Liffey from Liberty Hall, and used to be that grungy-looking throwback place, perfect for drinking-things-through, indulging in a bit of private cyberloafing or just quietly rendezboozing with mates.
I say ‘used to be’ because it has been transformed into an über-cool hipster magnet with a bar menu chock-full of gastro-pub reliables that make all the right noises and should be difficult to mess up.
And we do find some good food here, along with (unfortunately) something inexplicably awful.
I especially like the lamb rump which is yielding, juicy-pink and tastes perfectly fine. The crunchy roast baby potatoes add balance and flavour while the baked fennel and red pepper salsa brings the whole dish together.
Shame about the aubergine salad concoction – being devoid of seasoning makes it taste of nothing much at all.
The cheesecake and the panna cotta, while not groundbreaking Michelin-star desserts, are praiseworthy and taste just dandy. In descending order then we have the weighty, drab quality of our starters.
The smoked haddock fishcake has a clunky amateurish look to it, and while it almost tastes of smoked fish (much like the curry aïoli almost tastes like curry aïoli) it has an altogether sloppy damp texture to it.
A tempting-looking rabbit and ham hock terrine is bland and instantly forgettable due to yet more skimping on the seasoning. An appropriate dash of chefy finesse would certainly go a long way with both these dishes.
It’s hard to know where to start with the so-called crispy duck confit. The meat tastes ok-ish, once you get into it, but for some strange reason it has been encased in a weird crumbly coating. Deep-frying the bejaysus out of such a strange concoction can only end in a disaster - and it does.
An ugly opaque jellyish goo is the inevitable result when fatty duck skin hasn’t been allowed to crisp-up properly. It may put The Boss off duck forever. What doesn’t help either is the tongue-squirmingly awful chili-like mayo, a woeful collision of red cabbage and yet more mayo, calling itself a ‘slaw’. And finally, a half-dozen limp, lukewarm chips that would make Col Sanders blink with embarrassment.
An affable waiter/barman handles everything with ease and aplomb, right up to the moment the place is suddenly rammed. Then he becomes like a headless chicken desperately running around trying to find his head. Although to be fair, even Super-waiter-man would have wilted under this pressure.
The end result is a good 40 minutes before the duck catastrophe is removed and given a proper burial.
What starts out as a neargasm of foodie-craic ends up the same-old same-old, but with the ‘interesting button’ switched off.
The Workshop could so easily be a blueprint for quintessential Dublin pubs in the future, but for the present, in my opinion, it’s back to the old drawing board, guys. €88.45