Having grown up not too far from Glasnevin hill, the building that houses The Washerwoman is a bit of an institution in the local area and has had many different guises over the years. Dating back to 1700 there was no doubt that seeing this delightful building lying vacant for over a year was not a pretty sight. So when it was announced the creative minds from The Woolen Mills and the Winding Stairs were moving into the space the expectation was high and rightly so.
We popped in on what should have been a sunny night in July but turned out to be a rainy Tuesday, when let’s be honest, sometimes you just can’t be bothered to make the effort and head out. Clearly not a problem for these guys as they were entertaining a full house. The Washerwoman is a quite deceptive in space and well laid out with a bright and airy upstairs area adding a lot of extra seating particularly for large groups of six or more. If we are lucky enough to see a short return of the sun they also have a super terrace are out the back for some al fresco dining.
First impressions of the restaurant are how well the design team have managed to retain the history of the building and integrate this into the overall decor, even down to the the pegs on the menu and soft furnishings, a nod to the women of the hill who washed their clothes in the nearby Tolka river or so the story goes. A cool blend of white washed exposed brick and raw wood creates a homely yet quirky feel to the space.
The menu has many staple favourites from The Woolen Mills and a few old classics like Fish Finger Sandwiches and WasherWings which seemed to be a big hit on the night we were there. We had heard great things about the Spicy Clogherhead Crab-Cakes so they were first on our list and can be order as a starter or main. Three plump cakes arrived with the lightest of breadcrumbs cooked beautifully, served with a creamy saffron tartare and generous crayfish salad.
One thing you can be assured of in The Washerwoman is very decent portion sizes, as was the case with our other starter of Flatbreads and Dips. A healthy looking board of sweet potato hummus, smoky aubergine dip, beetroot paté with smoked yoghurt & crumbled Goat’s cheese and hazelnuts, served with raw veg sticks and homemade flatbread. The beetroot paté is reason enough for a visit with such an earthy, smokey taste we just couldn’t get enough.
Some fine steaks weigh heavily on the menu with a good range from rump, rib-eye to a hefty 1kg T-bone designed to be shared if your feeling generous. The Panko Crumbed Salters Chicken Breast won out in the end; stuffed with one of our favourite Irish cheeses Durrus farmhouse cheese, the deep flavour brought a wholesome feel to the whole dish. What Irish person does not love a little mountain of creamy mash, especially when it’s creamed with buttermilk and drizzled in a sweet plum gravy – mash utopia.
Determined to overcome a childhood fear of being forced to eat lamb’s liver once a week (good for the blood or so the Mother assured us) we braved it out and took a chance on an interesting dish of McLoughlins’ Lamb’s Liver with smoked bacon, peaches, mash and red onion jam. Now perhaps if the Mother could’ve produced an inventive dish like this we would have had a better appreciation of the ancient Irish staple. Now completely cured of the phobia we would urge anyone to taste this and not be blown away with the hearty flavours.
We were almost tempted to skip dessert but our server Lori convinced us we would be missing out so having polished off our bottle of clean, crisp Verdejo, Badajo, Bodegas Gotica 2014 our arm was twisted to a decadent Raspberry and White Chocolate Brownie; writing about food we sample a lot of desserts, not good for the waistline but good for the soul and this is one is pure heaven. Chunks of melted white chocolate are encased in the soft, warm brownie, again a more than generous portion, topped with peanut butter ice cream and a little helping of raspberry coulis scoring major “brownie” points from both of us!
The food being served here is way beyond what is expected of your traditional neighbourhood restaurant, it’s wholesome, inventive and most importantly the service is personal and warm. Next time you find yourself in strolling through the Botanic Gardens, venture up the road a bit and try out this utter gem.
This is a Creative Taste we highly recommend.
Keith & Jules Mahon are the founders of TheTaste. We want TheTaste to be a culinary kaleidoscope to champion every taste, food, wine, cocktails, whiskey, etc. We are delighted to be part of such a creative and fast moving industry and are very passionate about sharing with you our unique journey around Ireland finding the best culinary hotspots.