I remember going into Walton’s music store many years ago looking for sheet music. I had a notion that I could learn to play guitar and after two sets of lessons it became clear to me and my instructor that a life of music was not for me. I should have known in advance. I played a leper in our school musical of Jesus Christ Superstar and the only lines I had to sing, were actually dubbed, by a class mate standing in the corner with a microphone, while I mouthed the words as best I could. Apparently I was graced with the ability to look like a leper but not the vocal cords to sing like one.
Walton’s moved their North Frederick Street store to Blanchardstown back in August 2013. The premises has banished its musical past and embraced a cooking future instead. All that remains of Walton’s are the letters which spell out its name on a wall over seating in one section of the restaurant which has taken it’s place.
The Old Music Shop restaurant is part of The Castle Hotel on North Frederick Street. I took a visit on a Friday evening at 5p.m. and it was virtually empty, but I did see a few tables with reserved signs on them. I’m not quite sure what to make of the setup, or if indeed the restaurant is as confused about it’s identity as I felt it was. It’s part restaurant, part coffee shop/café and appears to be where breakfast is served for the hotel it is joined to.
The cafe counter runs along the right hand side as you enter the restaurant. The main seating areas are then to the back and off to the left of it.
There is a mix of comfortable blue velvet chairs along with the more tradiational wooden table and chairs.
Towards the back you will find another seating area, again with a different feel to it. Long and narrow it has a row of seating along the wall with a mix of coloured chairs. The space here feels very bright to be a restaurant.
Off this area in another section of the restaurant you have what feels like a hotel breakfast area with large windows looking out to the street.
The surrounds are well appointed it has to be said. I can’t help but feel that using such an amalgatmation of styles, it became more disjointed and doesnt really have that cosy feel where you can imagine yourself deep in conversation over a couple of bottles of wine. It presents itself as having much more of a hotel vibe than restaurant to me.
The menu is diverse enough not to be limiting and has a mix of fish, chicken, steak, salads and pastas. Neither of us were overly hungry when we visited so knew we would concentrate more on the main course than a starter or dessert. As a result we opted to share a starter of breads and dips (€4.50). A selection of fresh baked breads with a trio of dips. Sundried tomato pesto which was rich and flavoursome. Rapeseed oil which was bland. Incidently rapeseed oil was used in the 19th century as a lubricant for steam engines and there is a question over whether it is good or bad for us due to the level of eruic acid in it. The last dip was a black olive tapenade which had a smoothness to it but I’m not a fan of olives. My fellow diner however is partial to black olives and spread it generously on his bread.
For the main course I opted for the fried buttermilk chicken breast (€15). It came with wilted greens and fries and a horseradish dip. The greens I’m happy to say were not wilted so they were soggy and retained their flavour, colour and some crunch. The buttermilk crust was non oily and crisp and the chicken was succulent. While very enjoyable it probably could have benefited from being marinated in the buttermilk mix for longer to really enhance the flavours and have them seep into every shred.
H went for the 10oz Sirloin Steak (€20) which came with fries. He likes his steak blue, so it was far too bloody for me to even attempt it. I tend to avoid anything which might walk again with a couple of shots from a defibrillator. The sauce on the side of this was smashed peppercorns and Hennessy cognac jus. It was thick and had a fire from the peppercorns which was constrasted by a smooth silkiness from the cognac. It was devine. Most of my chips went into it and I’m tempted to email them for the recipe.
As we were both off the booze for January there wasn’t a glass of wine in sight and it was a round of water.
I wouldn’t rave about The Old Music Shop to be honest. The food was very decent. Not so great that I would go out of my way to visit again and not unpleasant that I would deter anyone else from visiting either. For sake of a better word and not wanting to appear negative, as far as food goes it was just ‘grand’.