A recent conversations I had with a friend set me thinking about eating out in Dublin: she had lately returned from a family holiday in Lisbon and was extolling the food-quality and value in restaurants in the Portuguese capital. Now, said conversation planted a seed of an idea that I might write the occasional post about restaurants, wine bars and cafés in Dublin where it is possible to eat reasonably well without paying a king’s ransom for the privilege.
The Fallon & Byrne Wine Cellar on Exchequer Street is one such place. Fallon & Byrne is Dublin’s foodie central, spread over three floors: the top floor houses the main restaurant, the ground floor a food hall with a café area and the basement is a wine shop cum wine bar.
Despite being below ground and despite the use of lots of dark wood the cavernous space that is the Wine Cellar doesn’t major on Stygian gloom. The visible bits of the walls are pale-coloured , the floor is a light shade of grey and there is plenty of artificial light from tasteful fittings.
The high-ceilinged room is large, not quite plane hangar proportions, but big nonetheless and yet it has a cosy intimate feel. Giant circular pillars covered in eclectic and colourful posters, wine barrels encircled with stools and wooden tables surrounded by dark bentwood chairs with seats covered in red leather, break up the space. Around the perimeter the lion’s share of the walls are lined with dark shelves filled with bottles of wine from most of the world’s major wine regions.
The menu has four sections Nibbles (tapas-type dishes), Shares, Bites and Deserts. Most of the items on the Shares (examples: cheese board, charcuterie board, half a dozen oysters … ) and the Bites (examples: Mediterranean fish stew, cold poached salmon …) are under a tenner. The deserts are mainly priced at a comparatively highish €6.95 but there is a mini one at €2.50.
I like the place not because it’s culinary nirvana, the food is goodish but not sublime, but because of the mellow ambiance and because they have a very good selection of decent and sometimes unusual wines by the glass (such as a biodynamic Priorat). And if you want to select a bottle from the shelves you won’t have to pay a restaurant mark-up just €10 corkage and if you are there on a Monday you can take advantage of the Happy Monday special offer when corkage is only €1.
I ate warm brie wrapped in Parma ham which was served
with a baby spinach and frissé salad, it came with plenty of bread. I followed this with the mini dessert which is a chocolate brownie, sadly this was on the dry side. I drank a glass of Picoul de Pinet made by the Languedoc producer Baron de Badassière. The service was good.
Fallon & Byrne is at 11 – 17 Exchequer Street Dublin 2