SE­LECT

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TICKET SEVEN DAYS - – Rachel Collins

THE OLD SPOT

14 Bath Av­enue, Dublin, 01-660 5599, the­oldspot.ie ¤¤ There’s a trend in Dublin at the mo­ment. Stand still long enough and some­one will throw a splash of paint on you, buy some dis­tressed fur­ni­ture and boom, be­fore you can say barista you’ve been turned into a cof­fee shop, pop-up café or gas­tro pub. The food, cof­fee and craft beer scene is thriv­ing, and ev­ery spare nook and cranny is prime real es­tate. It’s sur­pris­ing, so, that the old Lans­downe Bar on Bath Av­enue – a great lo­ca­tion, with loads of room – stood empty for more than a year be­fore any­one started look­ing at Du­lux colour charts.

It was fi­nally given a new lease of life last Fri­day, when the McNer­ney brothers (of Ju­nior’s and Paulie’s Pizza fame) opened The Old Spot.

The new mas­cot, a rather jolly Old Spot pig in a bath (ged­dit), greets you as you come un­der the Dart bridge – the fre­quent rum­blings of pass­ing trains will punc­tu­ate your visit – into the cosy front bar, with its dark wood pan­elling, soft leather ban­quettes and mis­matched ma­hogany chairs. There’s a nod to the old, old spot too, with the orig­i­nal Lans­downe Bar frosted win­dows still out front.

Be­hind the bar it’s all whiskey, wine and weiss­bier, with a mid-sized wine list (we had a glass of Ar­migero San­giovese Ris­erva, ¤7.75) and a de­cent se­lec­tion of craft beers on tap and by the bot­tle (Bel­gians and IPAs make up a good por­tion of the list).

The bar snack menu is a sur­prise – it’s ob­vi­ous they’re aim­ing for big things here – with soused her­rings with rye, beet­root and horse­rad­ish (¤4,) an am­bi­tious Ital­ian dish of vitello ton­nato, or sliv­ered veal (¤4), and a very good pot of creamy chicken rilettes, dot­ted with capers, co­rian­der and flat leaf pars­ley and served with shards of wafer-thin sour­dough toast, mi­cro leaves and tangy pick­led red onion.

Out back, the Old Spot’s restau­rant is rem­i­nis­cent of a gen­tle- man’s study, with more dark wood, hunt­ing pic­tures, Van­ity Fair plates, plaid booths and a small bar.

As you’d ex­pect from some­where named after a porker, the menu is heavy on big meat dishes (house ground burg­ers, baby back ribs, an enor­mous New York striploin, Iberico pork flank) with prices from ¤15 to ¤28. But there are smaller, lighter plates too. We tried the melt-in-the-mouth San Daniele pro­sciutto with crispy, spring roll-like cylin­ders of mus­tardy cele­riac, and a syrupy, not too sweet agrodolce sauce (¤9). Brill with clams (¤22) turned out to be brill with prawns and mus­sels (no harm done), but the spiced tomato sauce needed more of a kick to take on a creamy fen­nel yo­ghurt on top.

Tuna tartare (¤10) was the best of the lot; fat cubes of tuna served with crispy yukka, chunks of av­o­cado on gen­er­ous smears of lime and chipo­tle mayo... plate-lick­ing was a se­ri­ous temp­ta­tion.

It’s taken a while for this old spot to be­come a new trough, but it was worth the wait.

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