As a Stillorgan local myself, I can tell you it’s been a while since we have had something to get excited about on the dining front. Since the opening of Dundrum Town Centre, business has been drawn from the surrounding villages creating empty premises and a lack of atmosphere. It became commonplace then to write off new cafes and restaurants as temporary pop ups that wouldn’t last.
One neighbourhood spot has stayed the distance though and established itself as the number one eatery in the area. RIBA Café and Restaurant opened in 2013 and is a quality neighbourhood bistro that is great value too. Manager Shane Molony has created a fresh and modern dining experience based on good honest food and excellent service.
RIBA is warm and inviting with wooden panelled walls and brown leather booths. Endearing quirks include handwritten blackboards, traditional crockery and chandeliers made from old milk bottles. The kitchen pass is located behind the bar so you can watch all the action while you wait for your table.
This is where we began our evening, sipping on a fruity Watermelon Fizz which is based on their prosecco on tap from Wine Lab. While perusing the menu in our cosy booth, we were brought some delicious bread from Cavistons and had a great chat with Shane about the considered wine list. He recommended a complex Pinot Grigio Superiore 2013 which we were delighted with. The unusually full body really suited the dishes we ordered.
The Beef Cheek and Coriander Bon Bons were presented like a meat lovers arancini, well seasoned beef in a creamy sauce was lightly fried in its crispy crumb. The accompanying aioli provided a gorgeous kick while the roasted red peppers added a sweet tang. Fresh and crunchy broccolini were a great little inclusion.
We couldn’t resist the Goat’s Cheese and Black Pudding Parcel which consisted of a smooth pudding paste that was infused with the strong cheese, all wrapped up in filo pastry which delivered a welcome crispness. The parcel was served with a tart apple chutney that balanced out the rich flavours and a red wine reduction completed the dish.
RIBA offers fresh seafood specials every day and we were lucky to be dining on an evening of wild Mussels. A large, steaming pot of flawlessly cooked morsels arrived and were promptly devoured. Head Chef Cristian Matei came to RIBA from Benito’s in Dalkey so it is no surprise that this chef knows how to get the best from his shellfish. After relying solely on Ouzo’s for years, we finally have another great spot for seafood. The mussels were served in a Parisian style sauce with chili and coriander which was mopped up by some of the gorgeous Cavistons bread.
The menu has some great options for mains, exactly what you would expect from a top notch neighbourhood restaurant. I chose the Glazed Pork Belly which turned out to be the best I had had in a really long time, even better than my own! The meat was juicy and tender, the fat had rendered down completely and the crackling was crunchy perfection. It was accompanied by a huge portion of whole grain mustard mash which was sweetened slightly with apple and lovely little balls of caramelised apple were dotted round the plate, sitting in a deliciously salty pork jus.
We were obviously in a seafood mood because we also ordered RIBA’s Seafood Skillet. A beautiful pan of fish was served in a creamy white wine sauce with crunchy cheesy bread to soak it up. The mussels were just as good second time round and the Dublin Bay prawns were excellent, with just the right amount of bite and flavour. They sat in and around the lovely sauce which was packed full of delicious cod and baby potatoes. It is a seafood extravaganza that I would highly recommend for fish fans.
We had to try RIBA’s take on the classic dessert, the Nutella Brioche and Butter Pudding. This is not a dessert to be tackled on your own, the richness of the chocolate and the sweet bread makes for an indulgence that is not quickly forgotten! The Vanilla Crème Brûlée is a lighter alternative but just as satisfying. It was totally outshone however by the accompanying lemon sorbet which was packed full of flavour and had a flawless texture. We turned into children, battling each other with our spoons!
I was surprised to see a Port Tasting Board featured on the menu and I couldn’t leave without seeing what it was about. Three glasses of Dow’s finest accompanied a trio of culinary treats. The Hegarty’s mature cheddar was paired with a glass of 10 Year Old Tawny Port that had burnt raisin notes and balanced out the strength of the cheese. The second port was a full bodied Late Bottled Vintage and the intensity of the plump berry fruit balanced the earthy tones of the Cashel Blue cheese. The final delight was Nirvana, a special port created by Dow’s specifically to complement high content dark chocolate. RIBA serve it with an exceptional little brownie, crisp and gooey and an excellent combination that finished off the meal perfectly.
While they don’t stock spirits, RIBA serve a range of craft beers and cocktails for every taste and the wine list is well considered and great value, just like the rest of the menu. With early bird and date night menus from just €19.50, and a comprehensive and exciting brunch menu to boot, RIBA is a neighbourhood restaurant that is raising the bar for South County Dublin. This is a great spot to go for an excellent meal, some great wine and a vibrant atmosphere, something that is truly needed in the area.
This is a Neighbourhood Taste that’s not just for locals.
Try RIBA for yourself with a three course meal for two for only €49
RIBA Cafe and Restaurant
4 Lower Kilmacud Road
T: 01 288 1999
Alison has been writing since she could hold a pen, which came in handy for her degree in English, Media and Cultural Studies. She has been working in media since graduating and is a features writer for TheTaste.
Writing for TheTaste allows her to combine her passion for the written word with her love of food and drink. Find her on Twitter @AliDalyo