Last month marked the “official” opening of yet another Dublin restaurant, on the increasing popular stretch that is Angier Street, this time thankfully not another doughnut joint but instead a location that has been designed to “create a space for typical Dublin social intercourse”. Making a bold statement like that on your homepage will definitely garner some interest and Bow Lane certainly spiked ours. Owned by Chef/Patron Geoff Nordell, who brought the word brunch to a whole new level with his other incarnation that is White Friar Grill, we knew that Bow Lane would have a few tricks up its sleeve worth checking out.
The venue is divided into two areas; a slick, sophisticated bar with a casual vibe, inventive cocktails that are well crafted, with funky tunes piped through at just the right levels so you can still enjoy a drink and a chat and more recently, the addition of a restaurant to the right of the bar. The use of space and design has been well thought out with the two spaces feeling completely separate, not an easy task if you want the restaurant to stand out on its own merits.
We popped by on a busy enough Saturday night and began with a couple of pre dinner cocktails at the bar from their extensive list where you are encouraged to imbibe to your heart’s content. Priced from a tenner and up we can highly recommend the Bow Lane Gin ‘n’ Ton Ton; elderflower liqueur, rhubarb liqueur, fever tree tonic w/ ruby grapefruit & coriander leaves, could this be Dublin’s most delicious G&T, absolutely! Our thirst was however not quenched but merely tantalised so it was probably a good thing our table was ready pretty promptly.
Even though the design is similar, when you step through archway from the bar you get the feeling that the Nordell has taken a lot of care with the interior space; dark woods mixed with gold flecks, art deco lighting, gilded panelled ceilings and plush, tawny, well upholstered chairs give the room a grown up atmosphere. Even before we laid eyes on the menu we could tell the food at Bow Lane was going to be taken serious.
With Early Bird options available all week and well priced at two courses for €19 from a very decent menu, Bow Lane has pitched itself well amongst a very competitive area buzzing with bars and restaurants. The menu itself was a pleasant surprise with some inventive dishes such as the Grilled Oysters Nduja Rare bit with sourdough soldiers (€9) for starters, we sided up to a delectable Charred Octopus (€11) with shards of baby artichoke and two hefty chunks of spicy chorizo balancing on top, drizzled with a caper and saffron purée that complimented the smokiness beautifully.
Across the other side of our corner booth table was a generous helping of Rabbit Leg (€11) three little parcels of rabbit wrapped in a well cured, West Cork pancetta and served on a bed of barley and mixed seeds all propped up by four pillars of creamy goat’s curd that would leave Little Miss Muffet begging for more with its tangy gooeyness.
So far so good, from the outset things were looking promising and when we discovered Head Chef Gary Tilley was behind the dishes we were not surprised. Tilley is an experienced chef who ran a tight ship in one of our old favourites Marcel’s when it was in its former location of St.Mary’s Road, and more recently The Green Hen, also part of The Mercantile Group.
Much like its sister restaurant next door, Whitefriar Grill, creating a venue with good food in casual setting is something they have easily managed to integrate into Bow Lane, the segregation of the bar makes you feel you are out for dinner rather than out for a pint and a bit of grub. Nordell is clearly serious about creating something special here, there are many familiar, experienced faces dotted around the restaurant, which in todays’s climate with such a shortage of top quality staff can be beyond difficult, so it was great too see our front of house on the night Suzanne was on top form. Charm and warmth along with good service do not always go hand in hand but when you find it, for us, it always enhances even the best of dishes.
With a choice of six options on the mains they have most angles covered, from a hearty sounding 10oz Delmonico Rib Eye (€29) to a more health conscious Cauliflower Steak with young buck blue cheese (€18). We began with one of the specials on the night; a perfectly seared and lightly seasoned fillet of Halibut (€26), with wickedly crisp sheets of parma ham, scallop emulsion and one stunning addition that is the only reason we need for a return visit – simply superb, cylindrical potatoes which had been poached in a magical culinary fairy dust otherwise known as fennel pollen. We hope to God this becomes a staple on the menu.
Our second main was never going to out do the halibut but it was nonetheless quite enjoyable, a deliciously pink Cherry Valley Breast of Duck (€26) with flavoursome girolles mushrooms, potato fondant, sweet garden peas and the exquisite addition of a plump, mustard apricot arrived to the table. Tilley has a good eye for presentation but it is his palate and keen intuition for flavour pairings that got us excited. The only thing we would love to see is a Silver Hill duck on the menu next time.
We finished the night with a dessert each; firstly, a lush, sinfully good Roast Banana & Meringue Mille-Feuille (€7) which tasted better the further into each layer we got. Drizzled with caramel sauce and a scoop of salted caramel ice-cream, the empty plate spoke volumes.
Secondly no good meal is complete with a decent Cheeseboard and at €8 Bow Lane’s is well worth sampling, the night we visited they had a super young buck blue cheese with a simple apricot chutney and crackers, all washed down with a fresh, floral, organic Pecorino, Abruzzo, Torre Raone 2014 (€39). It is worth mentioning that Bow Lane not only has an insanely good cocktail menu but one of the best wine list we have seen in a while, especially when you consider all the wines are available in both the bar and the restaurant and start from €24 upwards for a bottle or €6 by the glass.
Bow Lane’s tagline is “Socialise, Imbibe, Eat” and that is exactly what they have embodied here, a place to go to, sip on some great cocktails and enjoy food that will have you coming back for more. If this is what Dublin social intercourse is then we want some every night !
Dinner for two excluding service, with a bottle of wine came to €128