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
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