A Cut Above the Rest – Mastersons Steakhouse Review
For a town with an ever growing population of over 68,000 people you would be forgiven for assuming Swords must be heaving with lots good quality restaurants. Sadly, however in our experience the latter is not the case, with many looking to its neighbour Malahide for their culinary treas. That said there are a few stand out exceptions producing some great plates of food such as the much loved Gourmet Food Parlour and the well known steakhouse Mastersons.
Feeling pretty ravenous we decided it was time for a long overdue visit to sample if the steaks were still as good as we remembered. Mastersons is everything you would expect of a busy neighbourhood restaurant, laid back in a casual but comfortable setting with plenty of families dining there on the Saturday afternoon we visited. Set in an L shape leading to a large open plan space, the restaurant has recently undergone a refurbishment nothing ground-breaking but there was a pleasing freshness and warmth in the new décor, which in a busy venue over 5 years old is important and no doubt the room felt a little bit more grown up.
We were seated directly opposite the kitchen, which considering we arrived without a booking was a great seat, with a bird’s eye view of Head Chef Ben Morrison prepping like mad. Like most food lover’s we think there is nothing better than watching the intensity that goes into the dish you’re about to sample. Morrison has definitely raised the bar in Mastersons’s and watching the plates whizz past us you can see that this is a lot more than a grill house.
They have an excellent early bird offering of 3 courses for €20 which runs from Monday-Thursday 3pm Till 10pm with a choice of five starters and five mains, not too shabby and well worth a trip to North Co.Dublin at these prices. One thing we must warn you on … come hungry as these portions are impressive. We began with an Apple and Goats Cheese Salad (€8) a simple dish that delivered. Lashings of whipped cheese on little slices of toasted sourdough, drizzled with some wholegrain mustard dressing and topped with slivers of apple.
We do love a good prawn starter, and Sautéed Prawns in a White Wine Sauce (€10.50) proved too hard to resist. Served on a good sized skillet, the prawns arrived with a delicious sizzle and a decent garlic and chilli kick to them which we mopped up quickly with our dipping bread.
Mains are were Masterton’s really shine and there is lots to choose from, clearly there is no shortage of beefy cuts and burgers but they also offer some fantastic braised dishes too. Obviously a steak house will not be a vegetarians first port of call but they do have two dishes on the menu if you fancy a Pad Thai or Chick Pea & Red lentil Balti or if the rest of your mates have dragged you along unwilling.
As it was lunch and not dinner we thought the 7oz Steak on the Stone (€25) would be sufficient, we never get tired of the stone experience and it is ideal if you are fussy about how your steaks are cooked as you have full control. The quality of the meat was superb with a meltingly tender bite and having used the same local butcher since day one Masterson’s clearly believe in keeping it local in more ways than one.
The real highlight was the Braised Shoulder of Lamb (€18), the meat fell apart from the bone like silk and was surrounded by a spicy chickpea Balti, which was heaped on top of a creamy turnip and cumin puree, our mash with chive was probably a little more than we could handle with this dish, but then again that could be down to the addictive little crispy shallots that sat proudly, all be it momentarily on the lamb.
We are blaming Ben Morrison’s Twitter feed on dessert, not that we need a lot of encouragement when it comes to a good sugar rush but believe us he posts a lot of sweet temptation. In a feeble, “trying to be good cause it’s January” effort we declined the suggested Mastersons cheesecake and instead sought out the Lemon Curd Tart (€5.95) which as it turned out isn’t a tart at all. Instead what arrived was a modern take on this classic dessert, tastefully presented with a dollop of Mövenpick ice cream and little homemade shortbreads to dunk, a delightful way to finish a cracking weekend lunch.
It is no surprise Mastersons has grown to be one of the busiest restaurant in Swords, when you use top quality ingredients, like the fruit and veg they source down the road in Rush and cook simple food in a consistently good way you are clearly onto a winner. Just five minutes off the M50, next time you are thinking of heading Northside take a little detour to this local gem, you won’t be disappointed.
This is a Meaty Taste we highly recommend.