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You walk in off the street on wet Wednesday and you get a lovely warm welcome in Dwyers of Washington Street. And that sets the tone for the evening and, with friendly service all the way, we enjoyed our meal in one of the many booths that break up the former wide-open spaces of this old (1820s) building.
I worked for about a year with Lee Hosiery, one of the Dwyer company’s factories, and was over and back to the Washington Street HQ regularly. Great place to buy a suit and, if some neighbour was getting married, a good spot to buy a present (if I remember, Foxford products were very acceptable in the mid 60s!). You paid your money, it shot up in a little container on a wire to the office upstairs and soon your change and receipt came back down.
But no high-wire stuff as we were buying our dinner the other night and soon checking the menu. No less than three burgers listed and also Fish ’n Chips so this is more like a gastro pub than a restaurant.
But don’t worry, the food may be simple enough but is well priced, well handled and nicely presented and a very important part of the whole enterprise as they have no less than seventy tables. But do book ahead at the weekends as music and the long bar are big attractions here too. By the way, they also do lunch and brunch.
With burgers being a key part of the menu, I thought I’d try one and was very well pleased indeed with the The Southern Fried Chicken burger served with garlic mayo, mixed leaves and tomato, on a brioche bun and with hand-cut fries. This was very tasty indeed, the chicken nice and moist and those fries are pretty good too. One of the other burgers is a Classic and another is Vegetarian.
Other mains included Pan Roasted Supreme of Chicken, Kerry Lamb Pie, Thai Green Curry and Trump Steak sandwich and all are priced in the mid-teens.
Do watch out for the specials though. CL did and her Crispy Potato Cakes turned out much better than I expected. Great added flavour here from the chorizo and black-pudding. It was served with salad and also those delicious fries.
A short wine list, six bottles on the menu, all available by the glass. There is of course a full bar so no shortage of spirits and beers (including Franciscan Well on draught - enjoyed a pint of the Chieftain!).
A booth for 8/9
There’s a good selection of starters here and I’ve heard that the O’Flynn’s Pork and Apple Sausage with crusty bread and chutney is very popular. They also offer a Quinoa Salad, a Wild Atlantic Chowder, Crispy Chicken Wings and also Soup of the Day.
Ours were the Prawns Pil Pil and the Goats Cheese Bruschetta, both good and warming for the cool evening and both very tasty as well.
In between we were taking a look at the many changes here, loads of nooks and booths, even semi-private corners. You'd need to have your mobile charged up if you're meeting someone here! Old stuff, including mirrors and prints (including old adverts from the original Dwyers, who also owned Sunbeam), around the walls.
Finished off with a well-made Apple Crumble and, after a night of good food and friendly service, two well-pleased customers headed off into the mist, hoping the bus would come soon!
The SpitJack has hit the ground running in Washington Street and, with its first summer a success, has just announced its new winter menu. I took the opportunity to try it out in mid-week. The meats as you’d expect, as SpitJack is a rotisserie, are top notch but the real surprise was the new Cheese and Fortified Menu. Not too many of our top restaurants will match this magical list of possible combinations.
And the good news is that there is quite a local input. Near neighbours, Ardsallagh Goats and Johnny Fall Down, feature strongly. The inventive Glounthaune drinks outfit are doubly represented with a Pom’O Apple Port and a Rare Apple Ice Wine.
The Pom’O is based on the traditional Normandy pommeau (pressed apple juice with apple brandy) but the Glounthaune orchard has added a twist or two of their own to make this beauty. They used rare apples and then a combination of freezing and thawing, a year long fermentation and nothing at all was added to make the Ice Wine, the first Irish ice wine to be sold.
It is beautiful and rich and perfect with the cheeses that we had and with the Ardsallagh Ash Pyramid in particular. Ardsallagh have a much longer history in the East Cork area than Johnny Fall Down but Jane Murphy continues to innovate and this is her first ash pyramid. Made from pasteurised mild goats milk, it is formed into the traditional Valencay shape and sealed in ash. Got an early taste during the Culture Night but this is the first commercial batch and it won't be the last.
The Ardsallagh was served with Fig Compote. Our second cheese was a favourite of ours from our (too) few visits to the Basque country. It is a sheep cheese from Ossau-Iraty a area of the Pyrenees where we got “lost” once or twice. In the Basque country, they often serve it with a Black Cherry conserve (I use Loganberry jam at home!); last night, SpitJack’s Quince paste was excellent.
Then we finished with the Comte AOC from the Jura mountains, served with truffle honey. This 24 month vieux is a beauty, delicious, and enhanced by that honey.
Other cheeses on this impressive list include: Brillat Savarin, Camembert Bonchoix AOC, Cashel Blue Mature, Durrus Og, Epoisses AOC, Manchego 18 months PDO, Pont L’Évêque AOC, and Stilton PDO. There are three Quinta Seara D’Ordens signature ports on the fortifieds list while dessert wines include Chateau Camperos Sauternes and a couple of sherries, a Colosio PX and Orleans Borbon Manzanilla, plus the two Johnny Fall Down drinks.
The new menu, like the previous one, is well constructed, in the sense that, if you wish, you can avoid meat in the starters and that’s what we did.
Salted cod is an Atlantic tradition so I was delighted to see the House Salted Cod “Bunyols” (€8.5) Catalan Style Cod Fritters, Flaked Salted Cod, Fried Crisp Exterior, Soft Pillow Centre, Lime Chantilly, delighted too that I choose this tasty plateful.
Across the table, CL also made a good pick. The pickled Heirloom Beetroot Carpaccio (€7) with Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Foam, Candied Walnuts,
Tarragon Oil, Watercress, looked well and tasted well.
On now to the main event, as my Eight Degrees Sunburnt Red Ale sank in the glass. Time for the Rotisserie Pork Belly Porchetta (€17), Slow Roasted Pork Belly Stuffed with Sage & Garlic, Crisp Crackling, Kale Colcannon Potatoes, Braised Kale & Apple Compote, Sautéed Tender Stem Broccoli, Honey Mustard Jus. “Savage,” as we say around here. The word’s not the most sophisticated but, when pronounced with soul, means the meat (in this case) is rather good my dear.
And it also may be applied to CL’s earthy choice, a peasant’s pleasant pot in winter time of Brazed and Rotisserie Roasted Lamb Shank (€19.00), with Red Wine Glaze, Pearl Barley & Winter Vegetable Cassoulet, Crème Fraîche, Mint Oil, Braised Lamb & Brandy Jus. Local and seasonal, simple soul food, simple but superb.
So two very happy customers and that was before the cheese and Johnny Fall Down took us to a higher level!