Grub Spy: Royal treatment

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

The Queens gastropub

Some of the tapas-style starters

The Queens stylish interior

As I make my way to the Queens in Dalkey, along those leafy environs of Sandycove and Ulverton road on a beautiful spring evening, I try to recall how long it’s been since my last visit. Many is the hour I spent there having the craic golloping pints and demolishing burgers and pizzas.

THE QUEENS 12 Castle St, Dalkey, Co Dublin 4.5 Stars Food: €40;  Drinks: €9

Back in the good old days it wasn’t just the grub the Queens was famed for (or at least that’s my memory of it) there was also an old-fashioned genteel fun of the place to enjoy. And when I say old I do mean old. I mean there’s not too many hostelries in south Dublin can claim to be in operation since the 1780’s. Scary thing is, although trampled by visitors and thirsty locals for hundreds of years, it closed its doors in 2020 having succumbed to the dreaded pandemic.

Thankfully, re-tweaked and rejigged, the Queens has reopened again. Looks-wise, especially on the outside, I am glad to report the cherished façade has been retained. And the essence of the old Queens is also continued inside.

Yes, there is a brand new persona, and while ‘understated’ is not the first word that comes to mind, it is both stylish and entertaining.

The new menu is an attractive unfussy affair with steak, chicken, fish and pasta options aplenty. What catches the eye, though, is the tapas-starter plates.

The cheese & onion croquettes with lemony sour cream and chives, while very tasty, could maybe do with more cheese. Slivers of gorgeously cured salmon with smoked yoghurt, a little cod roe (I think) and a splash of tomato dressing with some mild chili really hits the spot. Without the black garlic aïoli and toasted hazelnuts in the dressing, the venison bon-bons – just on the right side of warm – might not be so scrumptious. The hands-down winner of the evening is a super-fresh line caught mackerel on a wedge of toasted sourdough. With its crispy torched skin and dabs of leek aïoli it tastes delicious and has a distinct whiff of finery.

With the real possibility of a sun holiday this year, I try my best to stay well away from things that make me fat – like mirrors, weighing scales and photos. But all that went by-the-bye when I spot an ice cream sundae on a near-by table.

With crumbled shortbread, raspberries, strawberries, ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce, it not only looks amazing, it is a joy to eat. While a snifter of Amaretto might have livened it even more – it is still a total winner. I’m not saying the new Queens will float everybody’s boat, especially if an intimate Michelin star-type meal is what you’re after; but it’s still a super place to head for if good food and drink with a lively atmosphere is what you want. And isn’t that what all good neighbourhood restaurants should offer?

Me, I’ve always liked the place, so I suppose I’m already slightly biased. Even so, as I said earlier, the Queens has been cheering-up Dalkey locals and tourists since the early 1700’s.

And based on my happy return visit, I reckon there’s another good century ahead.

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