The Famous Rathmines Hardware Store Turned Fabulous Rathmines Hotspot – Lenehan’s Bar & Grill Rathmines Review
Rathmines. On January 2nd staff from Fallon & Byrne were notified that the Swan Centre branch would be closing with immediate effect after being open for less than 3 years. Despite having much success at locations on Exchequer Street and at People’s Park, Dún Laoghaire the inner suburb food hall and restaurant was operating at a loss. The sudden closure was a shock to many but Dublin restaurant competition is increasingly fierce and the government’s decision to raise the vat rate on the hospitality sector from 9% to 13.5% is all but disappearing some restaurants profit margins. On a positive note, a 2-minute walk from the closed shutters of Fallon & Byrne and you will come across a hardware store turned bar and grill from Paul Byrne and Fiona McHugh, 45% stakeholders in Sarzala ( F&B’s parent company).
Lenehan’s Bar & Grill has replaced what was for 70 years the hardware store and Rathmines landmark of the same name. Opened in late October, the onetime shelves of DIY essentials have been replaced with elegant new decor. Tables line around a large main dining area with mustard velvet perimeter seating and black velvet chairs, for the diner that isn’t facing outwards to see the rest of the stone walls and bar that gives the appearance it was built with perfect wooden blocks. The front of the restaurant is cut off by the bar, coffee station and an arch that leads into a narrow area home to a few 2 person booths and high seating that gives you an amazing view of all that goes down in Lenehan’s kitchen. The back of the restaurant has more busy tables and an outdoor dining terrace will open in spring when the weather becomes a little more bearable. Upstairs launches soon and will be home to The Workshop, a hidden bar showing all the big games and pumping out tunes on the weekend. A massive smoking area and a unisex bathroom with nearly a dozen cubicles and design as impressive as every other part of the restaurant complete the first floor. The team includes former management from Sydney hotspots Firedoor and Barangaroo House as well as Dublin favourite Ukiyo, so no doubt the music will be on point.
The menu offers bar snacks like Cajun-roasted Chickpeas or Orange & Thyme-marinated Nocellara Olives and sharing boards of mezze, charcuterie and cheeses but we are starved so don’t mess about and dive straight in with some small plates/starters. Three dishes land on our corner table and the aroma from the Roaring Bay Mussels €12 and Gambas Piri-Piri €12 doesn’t help the hunger pains as my companion is momentarily in the bathroom but alas, the wait is over and we dig in, ripping the generously coated chilli and garlic prawns from their shell that are laid upon a slice of sourdough. Delicious. Good mussels are a bit of kryptonite to me and these are on the Lex Luthor scale at the very least. Served in a tomato broth with sliced green olives and crumbles of nduja give a distinct flavour of a wonderful saltiness from the olives and a slight kick from the spicy sausage that I cannot fault. Ham Hock & Comtré Croquettes €9 come with an apple puree, some sliced apple sticks and a small salad, another tasty appetizer.
The mains include different cuts of beef or lamb and delectable sounding monkfish dish all from the grill along with some other interesting options like Hand-cut Pappardelle, Venison Ragù with Chocolate & Orange Oil €20. The pasta was cooked perfectly and the explosion of flavours was at first really interesting although maybe acquired taste as a main course for some. Our other main selection was an 8oz Fillet €34, accompanied by chips and again a small salad along with delicious red wine jus. A wonderful cut of steak and it even retained its juiciness beautifully after initially, I thought it wasn’t pink enough for the requested medium rare. A steak should be enjoyed with a plethora of sides in my eyes so I added on Beer-battered onion rings and Charred sprouting broccoli with lemon & toasted almonds both €4 and blagged myself another sauce in the way of the most splendid bearnaise. At first taste, I was transported back to the Christmas biscuit tin with the buttery familiarity of shortbread cookies leaving me with two delicious dipping options. The onion rings were a very crispy golden stack and the broccoli a tasty bit of greenery to complete the table.
The wine list is extensive and impressive whether it be by bottle or glass, with wines showcasing lesser-known varietals and many vegan, organic and biodynamic wines but it’s a glass of Montepulciano €8 we pair delightfully with the beef. The bar stocks a wide range of spirits and beers including many on draught but if cocktails are your poison not to worry. Try the Paper Planes €12, bourbon, amaro, Aperol & lemon juice combine for something heavenly or visit between Monday and Wednesday to avail of the 2 for 1 Espresso Martinis.
Plum & apple crumble, Featherbed farm vanilla bean ice cream with whipped cream €7 finishes off a lovely evening and leave me intrigued to see what Lenehan’s has to offer in the future. The Brunch menu is composed of things like a Wagyu Angus Beef Burger, Braised Brisket & Boxty Potato Pancake or Baked eggs with Chorizo & Dukkah leaving me looking forward to getting back soon. Has Rathmines got a great new restaurant? I think so. Will Lenehan’s be a late-night hub? It sounds like it might just be.
WRITTEN BY CHRISTOHER MELLON / DUBLINSOCIAL