The Seafood Bar by Wrights of Howth. It occupies the space of the former La Stampa restaurant in the Engineers Hall of the Dawson Hotel. For a space so grand and cavernous, the refurbishment has somehow managed to allow you marvel at its size while giving you dining intimacy with cleverly thought out sections.
To the front as you enter has a large bar area, which is followed by the sumptuous surrounds of the dining area. Towards the back is the Funky Fish Cocktail Club. So one venue can cater for your pre dinner drink, your dinner and then cocktails and tunes to the early hours.
The surrounds are just gorgeous it has to be said. The whole venue has a touch of Hollywood movie glamour with dramatic high ceilings, palm trees and luscious red seating. It was made all the more special by some luxurious Christmas decorations which transform it into a festive paradise.
To kick off lunch we ordered a couple of gins (€10 with mixer). One Dingle and one Monkey 47. Both refreshing, but I think the Monkey 47 pipped the Dingle at the post. We also ordered a bottle of Sav Blanc. The wine menu is available by the glass (€6.75 – €9) or by the bottle (€24.95 upwards), with a great selection in each to cater for all pockets and palates.
The menu as one would expect has swim straight from the sea to the plate. Everything from prawns, to crab to oysters and more. Although you will find chicken/beef on there too to keep everyone happy. For starters I went with Gambas Pil Pil (€9.95) which came sizzling with lemon chilli and garlic butter and chargrilled loaf of bread to the side. The prawns were plump and tasted exquisite.
The other starter was steamed West Cork mussels (€9.95) served in a white wine and garlic cream sauce with homemade brown bread on the side. The sauce fresh and tangy and the mussels plentiful on the plate.
For main course I went with the traditional fish and chips with mint pea puree and tartar sauce (€14.95). The portion was sizeable and perfectly cooked with chunks of delicious white fish which melted in the mouth. The batter was crisp and the tartar sauce fresh. With a hefty side of fries it’s a hearty main course.
The other main was the half lobster with haddock and gruyere crumble (€18.95) served with garlic and herb butter and house fries. It was simply superb. Tender and juicy meaty fish with a wonderful contrast from the grueye crumble. The garlic and herb butter I could drink by the bottle and it was so full of flavour. It’s beautifully presented, a good size portion and incredibly enjoyable.
We also got a portion of onion strings (€2.95) to share (as if we had not already eaten enough).
Beginning to slip into a food coma by the time starters and mains were through, we opted to share a dessert between us. Baked lemon tart with ice cream and berries. A crisp delicious pastry and a tangy zesty lemon flavour.
Lunch at The Seafood Bar was a joy from start to finish. The service was impeccable. The surrounds were sumptuous. The food was first class. We left talking about our return visit which is already a good sign. We decided the next one would include a visit to the cocktail bar too! I suspect this will fast become a dining favourite for many and after my visit its easy to understand why.