A bone to pick

The food was great, and there was clearly a lot of ef­fort and thought from the kitchen staff, but Lucinda O’Sul­li­van was dis­ap­pointed by the abysmal front-of-house ser­vice upon her ar­rival at the new Fish­bone in Clon­tarf

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - APPETITES -

If there’s one thing the French do very well, be it in a restau­rant, a or any other type of shop, it’s that they make in­stant eye con­tact the minute you cross their doorstep, and say, “

They may not be grin­ning from ear to ear, but they’ve recog­nised your pres­ence, and you’re more likely to en­gage with them and maybe make a pur­chase.

I thought of this as my friend Rena and I stood, for at least 10 min­utes, just in­side the door of the new Fish­bone in Clon­tarf, to­tally ig­nored by any of the seven staff on the floor. One chap walked down and be­hind the counter with a long, droopy mop, while an­other had a clean­ing spray in his hand.

An­other ac­tu­ally moved be­hind us, put­ting cut­lery on a ta­ble, crossed over in front of us to deal with two peo­ple at the till, and then took a phone call, as we stood like two spare you-know-whats. All it needed was an “I’ll be with you in a minute”, or a “Sorry to keep you wait­ing” — and the place was only half-full at the time. Even­tu­ally, the same chap came to us and said he’d pass us over to “He who is in charge”, who had just come in. But of course, ‘he’ had some­thing else to do be­hind the counter be­fore he came over!

He of­fered us a ta­ble in the di­rect line of the door, through which there was a howl­ing gale ev­ery time it opened, so I asked could we sit be­hind the door, where there were two small ta­bles pushed to­gether. That wasn’t pos­si­ble, although they later gave the spot to an­other two­some and then asked if we’d like to move (squash) in be­side them! We sat down at the des­ig­nated ta­ble and watched, fas­ci­nated, as menus were given to a ta­ble of birth­day-cel­e­brat­ing girlettes next door, who’d ar­rived af­ter us, while we were again left hang­ing un­til we fi­nally just had to ask for them. We felt in­vis­i­ble.

Fish­bone is owned by the peo­ple be­hind the nearby pop­u­lar Bay Restau­rant, which I rather like, so it was a pity that the front-of-house

Madame”. boulan­gerie Bonjour,

You can in­dulge in the best of tra­di­tional or con­tem­po­rary seafood in this restau­rant, deli and fish­mon­gers — think Glen­beigh mus­sels me­u­niere a la creme, through golden Thai spiced cala­mari, to a whole split lob­ster in a ther­mi­dor sauce with prawns. The fare had them queu­ing out the door at the re­cent Rose of Tralee fes­ti­val. Price: €6-€26 Try: Crispy Corona­tion Tuna — seared in a sesame crust, with Asian salad, and cur­ried saf­fron aioli, €10 Drinks: Wine, beer, soft drinks What started out in 1970 as a sim­ple fish ‘n’ chip shop, has grown over the years, cul­mi­nat­ing in a su­per nau­ti­cal-style, ca­sual wa­ter­front restau­rant, with a sep­a­rate take­away sec­tion. Choices in­clude seafood chow­der; Ca­jun salmon; lemon sole; seafood bites; and steak sand­wiches. They have a great chil­dren’s menu, too. Price: €4.75-€13.95 Try: Home-made fish cakes, served with a sweet chilli dip, €12.95 Drinks: Wine, soft drinks Pat O’Mal­ley’s fam­ily have been fish­ing off the west coast for the past 40 years, and if any­one knows seafood, he does. His su­per-buzzy seafood bar and grill on the prom at Salthill re­ally make you feel you are ‘away’. Think oys­ters; mus­sels; crab claws; clas­sic prawn cock­tail; fish ‘n’ chips served three ways; plus surf ‘n’ turf. Price: €4.50-€28.50 Try: Whole grilled lob­ster with Ar­gen­tinian chimichurri sauce, and house cut fries, €28.50 Drinks: The works was so chaotic and dis­or­gan­ised, be­cause the kitchen team were do­ing their job, and the food, when it even­tu­ally ar­rived, was re­ally good. The vibe here is very loud mu­sic; lots of high-stool ta­bles; black­boards with daily spe­cials; cock­tails; and a calo­rie count on the menu!

You can have oys­ters by the half-dozen from €12; or Howth lob­ster at €7 per 100g. The ‘Bite Size’, ‘The Big Haul’ and ‘Sea Free’ sec­tions sported a great se­lec­tion, which in­cluded chow­der; Lam­bay crab claws; prawns a shell­fish pot; fish ‘n’ chips; open seafood lasagne; monk­fish & scampi bites; and striploin steak; rang­ing in price from €8-€26.

I had an ab­so­lutely ex­cel­lent three­some of seared scal­lops (€12), com­plete with their roe, which were served with minted peas and a pea puree; while Rena had a crab can­nel­loni (€12) which came with can­taloupe melon, lime and mint, and was fresh and light. She fol­lowed up with a Howth lob­ster roll ‘n’ chips (€16) which had cos let­tuce and Sriracha mayo, all of which she loved. I had a fan­tas­tic grill spe­cial: red mul­let (€18) — two fish, lib­er­ally anointed with my choice of a spicy Moroc­can

plus side op­tions; I picked what was a tasty bowl of cur­ried sweet-po­tato puree, topped with crisp sprout­ing broc­coli.

The draught from the door was prov­ing un­bear­able for Rena, who had her back to it, so we passed on desserts. With a glass of Weingut H Boch Trocken Ries­ling Mosel 2015 (€8) for Rena, and fil­tered wa­ter (€1) for me, our bill was €67.

There isn’t a lot of com­pe­ti­tion in the area, but they can’t rest on their lau­rels. There’s an old say­ing: “Fish goes bad from the head down”, so the ser­vice here needs to be grasped by the neck and this fish’s back­bone stiff­ened.

cher­moula, pil pil;

Fish­bone, 324 Clon­tarf Road, Dublin 3. Tel: (01) 536-9066 fish­bone.ie

lu­cin­dao­sul­li­van.com

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.