The first thing my friend told me the instant after we stepped into La Ruelle Wine Bar was “this place is VERY French.” Having lived there for many years, she knew what she was talking about. The petit venue, located just off Dawson Street, concentrates on an extensive wine list, an unmistakably Gallic food menu and it has a casual yet elegant atmosphere that makes you feel at ease while keeping it chic.
A few high tables at the entrance and a dining area at the back distinguished the wine sippers from the diners. You could see a neatly organised cellar built in the wall just by the counter. We chose the first area and took our time to browse their wine menu, which as you can imagine was beautifully biased towards France (but featured a few bottles from other regions, mostly Italy, Spain and Portugal).
It’s a list that a wine beginner would be able to make sense of, but that a connoisseur will appreciate. Two dozen “by the glass” options concentrated in a page, leaving several others for an array of bottles from France’s most prestigious appellations.
There were two things about the list at La Ruelle that I loved: first, the wines had proper descriptions giving you a general idea of what to expect and in some cases even an interesting fact about the winery or the winemaking techniques used, and second, wines by the glass were also available by that wonderful happy medium of a vessel known as carafe, resulting in great value for those who want more than 150ml but are not ready to commit to a full bottle. I wish more wine bars did carafes!
As the night was just starting, we went for just a glass each. My friend, who has a soft spot for white wines, opted for a Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2016, from the Loire Valley (€7.40) and, following the recommendation of our knowledgeable server, I went for a San Giorgio Sangiovese di Puglia 2016 from Italy 2016 (€6.50). If a French man in a French wine bar recommends me an Italian wine, I’m intrigued. No regrets.
To have something to nibble on while sipping, we were debating whether to get small Artisan Charcuterie Selection or a Selection of Irish and Continental Cheeses. Again, helpful and accommodating staff suggested we get a “half and half” (€14.50), which is not on the menu but I can imagine is often prepared. It included saucisson, Serrano ham, lomo, Gubbeen cheese, Cashel Blue, Epoisse and a few other delicious bits from Mediterranean and local producers, neatly presented and accompanied by fruit and pickles.
While we didn’t stay for dinner, I did noticed the food menu is filled with French classics at reasonable prices. Dishes include Soupe à l’Onion, Paté de Canard, Camembert Chaud, Boeuf Bourguignon, Rataouille, Vol au Vents and more. Desserts share the theme and included sweet crêpes and apple Tatin among the options. One thing worth noting is that several of the dishes can be ordered in small or large portions, which is ideal if you want to try several things or plenty of one.
La Ruelle Wine Bar has been in business for seven years and opens Wednesday to Saturday between 5:00 pm to midnight. It offers a relaxed and friendly experience and a variety of options worthy of more than just one visit. It’s name means “the narrow street”, perhaps a nod to the little fairy light lit road one has to cross to get there from Dawson St, yet another charming touch that will both greet you and charm you goodbye.
The bill at La Ruelle Wine Bar, including two glasses of wine and a small cheese and meat board arrived at €28.40.
La Ruelle Wine Bar
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.