Grub Spy: Eat pray Dubh

Grub Spy Alan Kelly dishes the goods on Ireland’s tastiest dining destinations

The welcome interior of Dubh

One of the tasty dishes

One of the tasty dishes

The first pleasing thing we notice when seating ourselves in Dubh, a cute, elegant all-day bistro hidden away almost, on a side street in Newbridge, is the menu.

Forget a big floppy laminated thing filled with burgers and pizzas and steaks and weird super-food salads done ten different ways, each as humdrum as the other, as can so-easily be found in a multitude of Mediterranean-influenced eateries around the country.

DUBH 10 George’s Street, Newbridge 2.5 Stars Food: €93; Drinks: €38

No, at Dubh you will find a short, reasonably priced eye-catching listing composed of Snacks, Smaller, Bigger, and Happy Endings. The second pleasing thing we notice is the smiling welcoming faces of our servers. It really does make a difference.

From the ‘Snacks’ section, while checking-out the main menu, we nibble on slices of country-white & brown soda bread, and butter topped with crystals of smoked salt. Nit-pickers might say this sounds a little on the plain or boring side. I say it takes nerve and confidence to take something this simple and make it work so supremely well.

From the ‘Smaller’ section there’s no room for quibbling either. We sample a scrumptious bunch of asparagus spears overlaid with slivers of sweet & salty prosciutto, a dusting of crushed roasted hazelnuts and a zingy aïoli – and then some marvellous grilled octopus with broad beans, olives, crunchy croutons, a radish and buttermilk dressing. Simple food, impeccably made, oozing with flavour. I’d return for those two dishes alone any day of the week.

Next up is a glorious roasted lamb rump, cooked on the perfect side of medium rare, dressed with slicks of fresh pesto a dollop of first rate nicely seasoned caponata and a splash of aubergine purée. This is a seriously good dish that doesn’t sacrifice taste for cheffy good looks. I have to say, while there are lots of restaurant menus that wax lyrical about the quality of their lamb, Dubh’s is the best I’ve had in ages. Similar high quality is evidenced with a pan fried fillet of hake on a tasty mess of crushed peas. Accompanied with a side of Hasselback spuds and daubs of preserved lemon butter sauce, it is a delicious example of how fish is supposed to be cooked and presented.

We finish with a silky-smooth buttermilk panna cotta along with a batch of the freshest strawberries some caramelised white chocolate and crunchy feuilletine pieces for texture. A slice of Snickers tart with peanut and white chocolate mousse tastes as good as it sounds. Sturdy, lusted-after, and not in any way a safe choice for timid calorie counters.

With a dining room filled with contented faces and a purr of happy chatter filling the air, our Saturday evening has been a roaring success. It’s the kind of restaurant and food people get misty-eyed over, so it should be easy (by now) to imagine what eating here is like. And if you’re in the mood for a pre or postprandial pint, just step outside: it’s next door to a decent pub. The only downside are the annoying blasts of cold air that would freeze the whatsits off a brass monkey every time the door opens. Regardless, Dubh is still a bloody good reason to visit Newbridge.

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