Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Restaurant Review: Drury Buildings, Drury Street, Dublin 2

I have always found the graffiti-painted, exposed stonework frontage of Drury Buildings very attractive and given that a visit was long overdue I decided to book a table there for dinner recently. Although I was looking forward to dining in this über-cool venue, I will admit that I’m always slightly wary of places that seem relentlessly hip and cool. I worry that this is merely a façade to distract from mediocre food and overpriced drinks. However, any concerns that I might have had in this regard began to fade when I arrived at Drury Buildings.
 

Mai Tai
Warmly greeted by the friendly hostess, we were led through the packed bar to the stairs leading up to the restaurant on the second floor. Whilst the downstairs bar serves a ‘Bar Bites’ menu, the upstairs restaurant offers the full à la carte experience. The dining room is large with dark wooden tables, comfortable seating and more of the exposed brickwork. There is also a balcony area which overlooks the heated walled garden. Many of the tables in the restaurant were already occupied when we arrived but the low hum of happy diners chattering away added to the overall atmosphere of conviviality.
 
Drury Buildings is known for the quality of its cocktails with an impressive selection to choose from so we both decided to order one each to sip on as we made our food choices. John, my dining companion for the evening, chose The Selector (€11.90) made with Writer’s Tears Irish Whiskey and Amaretto. This excellent, very grown-up cocktail also had lovely chocolaty background notes due to the inclusion of Crème de Cacao and chocolate. It was delicious. My Mai Tai (€10.90) was also sensational. Made with 3-year-old aged Havana Rum, Triple Sec and fresh lime juice this was a boozy but refreshing drink.
 

Cotechino
Whilst we sipped our cocktails we nibbled on fresh bread which included a Brown Treacle Soda and Ciabatta. The bread came served with a well-flavoured, fruity extra-virgin olive oil. We also demolished a Bowl of Olives (€3.95) as we waited for our starters to arrive.
 
The Italian-influenced menu is divided up into Starters covering Anitpasti and Primi, Mains encompassing Pasta and Secondi and Desserts. It has many tempting dishes on it. I was pleased to see that authentic Italian ingredients are used throughout.
 
I was immediately drawn to the Warm Traditional Cotechino, Puy Lentils, Mostarda di Frutta (€12.50) starter. Cotechino is a fresh sausage made from pork and belly or back fat and hails from Modena in Italy. Rich and hearty, it is typically slow-cooked by braising for a few hours and is commonly served, as it was here, with lentils. I have always loved the piquancy of Mostarda di Frutta, a pickle-like condiment made from candied fruit and a pungent mustard syrup and I thought it was the perfect accompaniment to the cotechino as it helped cut through the richness of this outstanding dish.
 
White Bean Soup
John’s White Bean Soup, Walnut & Parsley Pesto (€5.50) was a more mainstream dish but flavoursome none-the-less. I particularly liked the alternative take on a traditional pesto and I thought it really added something a little different to the soup which was velvety smooth. I also liked the fact that some of the cannellini beans that had been used to make it were left whole and hidden in the bottom of the bowl; they added body to the soup and were a nice little taste surprise.
 
Keen to sample at least one of the pasta dishes, I persuaded John to share a half portion of the Papardelle with Black Truffle & Truffle Pecorino (€14.00/22.50)with me. What a joy it was to eat. The silky pasta ribbons had been cooked perfectly so that they retained a slight bite. The sauce was simple but full of the heady flavours of truffle. The word ‘sublime’ is overused by restaurant reviewers and I tend to avoid it but no other description does this dish justice. It was truly spectacular. Sublime.
 
Grilled Cod Fillet
Unfortunately the Wild Wicklow Venison that I had hoped to order for my main course was off the menu so I decided on the Grilled Cod Fillet, Caponata, Rope Mussels with Lemon Gremolata (€22.50) instead. This was an attractively presented dish and, like the food we had already eaten, full of gutsy flavours. The meaty cod had been well cooked and was succulent to eat. Similarly, the mussels were also nicely cooked. However, the thing that really set this dish apart was the caponata – a traditional Sicilian vegetable stew with sweet and sour agrodolce flavours. This was a really good version and was delicious with the cod.
 
The 10oz Chargrilled Rib-Eye Steak (€29.50) came served with either Bone Marrow as John had requested or Rosemary Lardo di Colonata. The meat which had been supplied by Gilligans was tender and flawlessly cooked medium-rare as had been requested. Candied Shallots and Watercress finished off the dish and were perfect accompaniments. Both main courses came served with roast baby potatoes and a choice of mixed vegetables or salad.
 
Orange & Campari Cake
I find it impossible to resist desserts but wanted something a little refreshing so I decided on the Selection of Ice-Creams (€7.95). Supplied by the Wexford-based Natural Ice-Cream Company they were really rather special. I usually passionately dislike anything flavoured with rosewater but the Rose Petal Sorbet was fabulous. The Salted Caramel and Sour Cherry Ice-Creams were also mouth-wateringly good.
 
John’s Orange & Campari Cake with Vanilla Ice-Cream (€7.95) looked beautiful and tasted wonderful. I loved the slightly bitter flavour of the Campari against the citrusy sweetness of the orange cake. Served slightly warm with a scoop of ice-cream on the side and pistachio crumb, this was a delightful dessert.
 
The restaurant was extremely busy on the night that I visited but despite this service was good. Staff are friendly and eager to please. I was really impressed by my meal in Drury Buildings. The cocktails are exceptional and the food under Head Chef Warren Massey left me with smile on my face. I loved the lively, fun atmosphere and I will definitely be back.
 
Drury Buildings
52 – 55 Drury Street
Dublin 2
 
Tel: 01-9602095
 
This review first appeared in TheTaste.ie
 
Ice-Cream Selection