Af­ter a makeover, Dillinger’s of­fers ev­ery­thing from cock­tails to fish spe­cials and bar­be­cue ribs, says Lucinda O’sul­li­van, and it’s new diner-style food is great to dip into on a night out with friends

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - TABLETALK - Dillinger’s 47 Ranelagh, Dublin 6. Tel: (01) 497-8010 www.lu­cin­dao­sul­li­van.com

Dillinger’s hit the streets of Ranelagh in late 2009 and was such a suc­cess that the own­ers fol­lowed it up in rapid-fire suc­ces­sion, with The Butcher Grill, also in Ranelagh, and 777 on South Great Ge­orge’s Street — all are pop­u­lar with the young, un­en­cum­bered around-town­ers. I liked Dillinger’s back then, and I liked it this time around, fol­low­ing a ma­jor makeover, which has seen — as with its two sib­lings — the ad­di­tion of a bar counter with high stools, and con­tem­po­rary New York diner-style food.

When 777 opened, it caused a bit of a so­cial me­dia furore by charg­ing €13 for some cock­tails in the depth of a re­ces­sion. At Dillinger’s, the cock­tails are all a ten­ner — in­clud­ing the “777’s mar­garita” — which seems to have gained €1 for the D6 bri­gade, as it is listed on the 777 web­site as €9 in D2.

Cock­tails were fly­ing all around us to dif­fer­ent ta­bles, so it was an Ur­ban Fox — Miller’s gin, el­der­flower liqueur, grape­fruit and a froth of egg white — for my friend Rachel; and a Rhubarb Flip for me, which was cer­tainly a new twist on granny’s rhubarb tart. An­other frothy con­fec­tion, it had vodka, house-made rhubarb rose­mary syrup, and lemon and bit­ters, tweaked with a sprig of rose­mary. You could down a few ‘ten­ners’ very quickly.

We were seated on a ban­quette fac­ing the bar, the best seats in the house. I had been told when I called up I could only book the bar for two peo­ple, “all our small ta­bles are sold”, but it seemed they played it by ear, as ta­bles were va­cant. The menu swings be­tween starters/ small plates (€7-€11); mains (€12-€28); and sides/small plates (€4-€7). Choices in­cluded crispy lamb belly ribs, with sheep’s curd, chilli mint and oregano; three-cut Here­ford cheese­burger and fries; and char­grilled sar­dines. There is a daily char­grilled whole fish spe­cial with a note that “heads will not be re­moved”, and a mar­ket fish spe­cial, which was lemon sole and sea bass with lan­goustines at around €26. Steaks in­cluded a grain-fed hanger steak at €25 and a bone-in Here­ford rib-eye steak (no weight shown) at a hefty €28.

We de­cided that steaks were steaks and we would ex­plore and share small plates and ca­sual grub. Rare grilled tuna tacos (€11) with chipo­tle, av­o­cado, cab­bage and pico de gallo salsa were three in num­ber, sit­ting in a retro-style ‘toast rack’, and were knock-out de­li­cious, if messy to eat, as I crunched through the crispy taco and slob­bered pureed av­o­cado. Foie gras and chicken liver “smeared on brioche” (€11) was also the ticket. Set on a rec­tan­gu­lar board, it had a tranche of pate on a thick slice of brioche, topped with a neo-for­ag­ing-style scat­ter and de­li­cious green-tomato rel­ish. A nod to a re­vival of of­fal and ox tongue was go­ing on too, in­clud­ing a starter spe­cial of sweet­breads. Lamb’s tongue and cold sliced tongue were pop­u­lar way back when, but a large piece of “caramelised” full-length tongue (€10) looked as if it might talk to us and didn’t ben­e­fit by be­ing heav­ily seared on one side — it just tough­ened it and made it coarser. Two nib­bles and it was aban­doned.

Bar­be­cue baby back ribs (€16) to fol­low, with crispy chichar­rones (feather-light lacy puff­balls of deep-fried fat), and onion rings in a crispy sage and cider bat­ter (€5), proved suc­cess­ful for Rachel and, while not for me, th­ese ribs were also be­ing gnawed bare at other ta­bles be­side us. I had a clas­sic pork hot dog with French’s mus­tard, ketchup and onions (€12) and a side dish of tasty mac­a­roni cheese (€6).

We shared a panna cotta (€7) with berries and a scoop of rum and raisin ice cream (€1.50) for dessert. With Panna wa­ter (€2.50), three glasses of house Cim­bron Rueda (€7 each), and an Amer­i­cano (€2.50), our bill with ser­vice came to €138.

Open for din­ner seven nights a week, Dillinger’s do brunch week­ends, and ‘foot-long’ hot dogs with a whiskey sour at €15 from 5-7pm on Fri­days.

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