The majestic façade of the Clontarf Castle Hotel foreshadows the mixture of medieval grandeur and modern comforts that awaits those who walk through its entrance. Past the lobby of the 12th century building, the opulent blending of Arthurian magic and contemporary refinement continues and, as you arrive to the Knights Bar and behold your noble surroundings, you can rest assured you’ll be treated like a king.
The Knights Bar is consistent with the style of the multi award-winning hotel: baroquely ornate high ceilings, sturdy and comfortable dark wood furniture and floors, and regal fireplaces that almost make you wish for winter, provide a setting to behold.
Fortunately, the venue’s architecture is matched by the quality of its food and drink offer: proper gastropub dishes cooked well and served in generous and appealing portions, accompanied by an eclectic array of cocktails, craft beers and wines from the world’s most prestigious regions.
Intrigued by the signature cocktails leading the drinks menu, we begun our evening with a Noble Knight, a combination of Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, honey, fresh lime and mint, topped with ginger ale. The summery freshness and the pleasing spiciness worked wonderfully with the whiskey.
Our waiter seemed quite proud of the bar’s gin selection so we felt like putting their G&T to the test: a gleaming globe glass with Irish craft gin Shortcross was topped with Poacher’s Classic premium tonic water and garnished with a perfect strawberry and fresh raspberries. They passed with honours.
The menu combines pub classics such as burgers, wings and chowder with hearty mains. All meat, poultry and seafood is Irish and they aim to use Irish produce anywhere its possible.
Their Char Grilled 12 oz Pork T-Bone Steak, served with a wild board black pudding potato cake, Savoy cabbage, apple and Bourbon cream and bacon jam proved to be a plentiful balance of textures with just the right amount of sweetness to enhance the savoury richness.
The Black Tiger Prawn and Monkfish Skewers, Roasted Chorizo, Tomato, Basil and Parmesan Orzo Pasta, was surely a delightful surprise: Mediterranean meets Irish in this creamy and scrumptious dish.
Those with an appetite for craft beers can’t leave the bar without trying Cluain Tarbh, their own pale ale, made in collaboration with 5 Lamps Brewery and named after the Irish word for Clontarf, with a thirst-quenching freshness and a present but mellow hoppiness. Certainly a great match for the bar’s burgers or signature sandwiches. And if you’re simply in the mood for the timeless pleasure of a pint of Guinness, you’ll be well looked after as well, as they have mastered the art of black stuff pouring.
While the desserts looked tempting we decided to finish our evening with Cormac’s Cocktail, a drink created by Bar Manager Cormac Rose and winner of an all-Ireland competition. This pale emerald tipple alone is a reason to visit the bar: a smooth amalgamation of vodka, crème de banane, Midori and tropical fruit juice that channelled the exotic wonders of remote and sunny destinations.
Perhaps on a hotter day, we could have stepped into Knights Bar’s lavish garden area, and fantasised with the French Antilles surrounded by greenery and sunshine. Gather enough friends and you could book the whole area for a private BBQ party, which they’ll happily host for groups of 35 or more.
Standing in its current form since 1998, when the estate was converted into a 111-room hotel (after having been a popular cabaret venue during the seventies and eighties), Knights Bar is frequented by locals, tourists and corporate guests alike and its enthusiastic and attentive staff is well skilled at creating the experience each visitor seeks to enjoy, from an efficient lunch, to a relaxed family dinner or a pint shared between friends, they’re used to adapting to your needs, a crucial trait of real hospitality.
The bill for dinner and drinks for two, including three cocktails and a pint of craft beer and two mains arrived at €75.40.
Knights Bar at Clontarf Castle
Clontarf Castle Hotel,
Castle Avenue, Clontarf,
Dublin 3, Ireland
T: (01) 833 2321
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.