When Margadh opened at the Royal Hibernian Academy late last year, I took a quick look online at what they were doing and thought, ‘Charcuterie, cheese and wine? Hmmm.”
I was hoping for something more interesting from the team behind the wonderful Mamó in Howth, where I had my favorite meal of the last year on the terrace on a sunny afternoon. (PSA: Mamó is currently undergoing a chic renovation and will reopen in May, in time for the actual long lunchtime season.)
Anyway, I put the cheese and wine information away and never made it to the first iteration of Margadh RHA. Apparently I wasn’t alone because after a few months of failing to lure players to the end of Ely Place, Jess D’Arcy and Killian Durkin decided to re-evaluate and the good news is that the new one The offer is much more attractive.
Not that cheese and wine can be faulted, but when wine bars pop up on every corner, a new one has to stand out in order to stand out, especially if it’s a little off the beaten track. Ely Place is just a minute’s walk from St Stephen’s Green, but unless you visit the gallery regularly you may never know it was here. The bright spot behind the temporary closure of Mamó means Killian Durkin is in the kitchen of Margadh RHA for this opening stretch.
Tasting menus are back with a bang, partly because restaurants are understaffed and a clutter-free menu is pragmatic, and also because they’re a way to keep waste to a minimum in the face of escalating food costs. Many restaurants have adopted the tasting menu format to ensure a minimum amount, but that is not the case here as there is an a la carte menu alongside the €38 tasting menu, so you can choose as many or as few dishes Order however you like in keeping with the fluid nature of what a wine bar is meant to be.
Things start well with marinated olives, a handful of smoked almonds we’ve all become addicted to, and good organic sourdough with the most delicious life-enhancing manzanilla oil – a first for me, its flavor enhanced with time in sherry casks.
There’s a skewer of confit octopus with potatoes and guindilla – those deliciously zesty, slender pickled chillies from the Basque region of Spain – and anchovy toasts with lemon aioli, using the finest Cantabrian fish from artisan producer Pujadó Solano.
Regular readers will know that I’ve never met an anchovy that I didn’t like, but I think this might be my favorite of all, the fillet laid out along a long finger of toasted bread brushed with oil a smear of aioli securing it in place. I think this is destined to be a Margadh RHA signature, like the cod chip at Mamó.
Since tuna tostadas are rarely a bad idea, we’re including an order of these—they’re not on the tasting menu. While there is a certain guilt about the guacamole, there is no guilt about the chipotle or the crispy shallots. The tostadas are good.
Slices of Skeaghanore duck breast cooked pink on Little Gem leaves with Thai slaw and strands of crispy ginger are downright delicious, while smoked scamorza-stuffed pillow gnocchi are lighter than all gnocchi should be. They’re served with pine nuts, zucchini, and a bright green spinach and herb sauce, while a rich combination of chicken and morteau sausage fills tortelli, which are served with an intense wild garlic-flavored broth.
Finishing off with tonka bean cream and poached champagne rhubarb, light and sweet, and Boyne Valley Bán cheese with poached pear. (Since my visit, the cheese has been €4 extra, but as this excellent hard goat’s milk cheese isn’t available everywhere, be sure to order it.)
Our bill, including a bottle of the succulent Hervé Villemade Loire Valley ‘Côt’ (Malbec) Pivoine 2019 (€42, from a list that is updated frequently, happily includes half a dozen interesting wines in the under €40 category), one in common A glass of Clair Obscur Grower champagne (€18) with dessert and two glasses of Doravante Bairrada (€9 each) with cheese cost €169 before service.
Whether you’re looking for a well-priced tasting menu that doesn’t leave you feeling overcrowded, supporting an independent Irish business rather than a UK chain, or prefer wines by the glass with small plates, Margadh RHA is on the money.
A glass of wine and “those” anchovy toasts cost less than €15.
The tasting menu for two plus tostadas to share is €91 before wine or service.
15 Ely Place, Dublin 2. margadhfoodandwine.ie
https://www.independent.ie/life/food-drink/food-reviews/margadh-rha-restaurant-review-ive-never-met-an-anchovy-i-didnt-like-but-this-might-be-my-favourite-of-all-and-is-destined-to-be-a-signature-in-the-way-the-cod-chip-is-at-mamo-41550862.html Restaurant Review Margadh RHA: “I’ve never met an anchovy I didn’t like but this might be my favorite of all and is destined to be a hallmark of the way the cod chip is at Mamó .”