Grub Spy: Quay to success

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

Quays Irish Restaurant in Dublin’s tourist hotspot

The tasty beef and Guinness stew

Custard-covered bread and butter pudding

We all know Temple Bar. What was once a cultural backwater was ingeniously reinvented into a magnet for stag-dos and backpackers. The end result, if you’re a young and adventurous holidaymaker, is that most of your earthly needs can be catered for there.

The Quays Irish Restaurant, which I think has been there from the start, attracts tons of sightseers anxious to experience a particular brand of Irishness. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve walked past the Quays, completely disinterested by the Oirishy diddly-iddle music pouring out the entrance.

QUAYS IRISH RESTAURANT 10-12 Temple Bar Square, Dublin 2 4.5 Stars Food €23.45; Drinks: €3.30

Tourists might be suckers for all that schtick, but I would never fall for it. I’m way too sophisticated, much too cool to be taken-in. Still, l couldn’t help thinking , what with all those vacationers cramming the place for so many years, they must be doing something right. I decided there’s only one way to find out – and that’s to check it out.

To be honest I was half-expecting a culinary shambles, a place I would usually run a mile from. Instead, I’m happy to report, I find one more reason why Dublin is so brilliant. The glorious sounds of Thin Lizzy, Aslan, U2 and Christie Moore are belting through the air, and everyone is into it, including myself.

I’m a big fan of stews, especially those big flavoured brothy stews. Immediately after sampling the Quays Slow Cooked Beef & Guinness Stew I have no hesitation in declaring it up there with the best. Forget delicate, forget nuanced. Every mouthful is a salvo of meaty deliciousness mightily flavoured with a thick black Guinness-y sauce. Loads of scrumptious beef gets along famously with chunky baby spuds, celery carrots and onion, proper seasoning and plenty of fresh parsley and thyme. This kitchen here concentrates on getting things right.

Nothing is being reinvented, or evolving, or being deconstructed. Along with a side of crispy fries, it’s simply a strapping lunch filled with a hefty oomph.

The fact that I have space for a dessert is a miracle, especially when I see what’s coming. Bread & Butter pudding could never be described as a light dessert. And this custard-covered wedge of vanilla laced gorgeousness is no exception.

There’s at least three menus here listing a tempting range of unfussy pub grub engineered for making diners happy. And everybody here is having a ball, especially the four Hells Angels from Denmark. I would describe the vibe as in-your-face-craic in a touristy pint-sipping Irish restaurant we didn’t realise we needed. The management of the Quays have got their branding absolutely right on the button. In fact they could give lessons on how to open and run a successful restaurant. I’m serious, they really could. When I think of some of the ludicrous nonsense going on in some of our bars, I despair. I can easily imaging myself coming back here, sipping one of those pints and getting stuck into a proper stew. The Quay is not going to be for everyone, nor will it ever be in the running for a Michelin star. But for what it sets out to do, it does in spades.

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