Ticking new restaurants off your Dublin dining bucket list as soon as they open seems nigh on impossible these days, with queues and booking woes galore. This weekend, instead of notching up another name to drop to foodie friends, we decided to revisit an old reliable spot to ensure it is still a solid recommendation when directing people to good food and great wine in the city centre.
After a chilly October Saturday afternoon pounding the Grafton Street pavement, our happiness levels immediately shot up as soon as we walked in the door of Ely Wine Bar, greeted by a warm and welcoming host and an inviting, cosy fireplace.
On our last visit we curled up in the basement booths to while the night away, but this time a corner table looking upon said fireplace screamed “cheeseboard and red wine time”. However, having worked up an appetite indulging in retail therapy of pay day proportions, we were keen to linger over something a little more substantial and refuel.
Ely’s extensive wine by the glass offering caters to all palates and indeed budgets, with plenty by the Coravin, as does their exemplary list of options by the bottle. There are few vino cravings that couldn’t be satiated here and I have never yet managed to pop in for a solitary glass.
A crisp and refreshing Catalonian white, Agusti Torello Mata Xic, was a pleasant drop to kick off proceedings, as pleasing as it was pocket friendly at €7.50 a glass.
Our first starter of Ham Hock Terrine was a chunky generous tranche, slightly smokey, with crisp and tart house made pickles to cut through the richness and a haunch of toasted sourdough to scoop. With the perfectly chilled Xic, things were off to a delicious start.
Across the table, a salad of Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese was like Panzanella’s crunchier cousin, with olive oil crisped croutons, griddled aubergine and courgette, black olives and little nuggets of creamy and rich cheese. Really simple, like a bowl of antipasti, perfect for nibbling in between sips.
Having whetted our appetites, it was time to give in to the cosy craving of red by the fireplace, and moving on to the dark cherry and liquorice hues of Les Amies Chanteuses Cotes-Du-Rhone, we were settled in for the evening.
Medium bodied and fruity enough to compliment a hearty poultry dish, atop a mound of buttery mash was perfect comfort food. Simple, well executed and by the fire on a chilly October evening – what more could you want?
The answer to that question for me was a juicy steak, and my 28 Day Dry Aged Ribeye was almost certainly Josper grilled, charred on the outside and blushing within – unquestionably delicious. I’ll even forgive them for (tarragon) mustard in lieu of bearnaise as an umami rich bone marrow crumble on top more than made up for it.
Firmly divided between the sweet and savoury finale camps, we opted to share a dessert of Burnt Honey Cheesecake, followed by that longed-for cheeseboard.
The cheesecake was Autumn in a bowl – whipped and light mousse scented with caramelised comb-fresh honey, bitter almond ice cream (a dream come true for a marzipan lover like me), supple apple chunks and crunchy as fallen leaves toasted almond crumble. A simply irresistible combination we polished off with haste.
Saving the best for last, a Three Cheese Plate, much to my delight, came with the difficult choice between six stellar cheeses from the island of Ireland, as we were able to build our own tempting trio.
My all-time favourite, Northern Irish beauty Young Buck blue, stole the show and even managed to earn the seal of approval from my blue-bashing beau. Every cheeseboard is immeasurably improved by its inclusion, and earthy Durrus Og, classic Coolattin and a Christmas-spiced chutney had us smiling from ear to ear.
Ely, much like its siblings across the Liffey, in Glasthule and most recently Maynooth, is a name synonymous with wonderful wine experiences and slick decor, but thankfully it doesn’t stop there. Classic dishes, executed well, mean a trip to Ely for “just the one” is never enough.
Whether it is light bar bites, a made to order cheeseboard or a juicy steak with a bold glass of red, Ely Wine Bar is a safe bet, a staple, a guaranteed great shout for good food and even better wine. Cheers to that!
Our bill for three courses and four glasses of wine came to €103.95.
Ely Wine Bar,
22 Ely Place,
T: +353 (0)1 676 8986