I have another great restaurant discovery for you from my most recent trip to Ireland. Situated on East Essex Street in the heart of Dublin sits Cleaver East, which is a beautiful blend of history, charm and traditional fare with a twist. While they have a full bar and apparently their cocktails are one of the main draws, their wine list is outstanding as well.
I dined at the bar, which I’d recommend if you’d like to learn more about the local scene. My neighbors, one English engineer, and two locals were tackling one cocktail after another while I got comfy with mostly deep, bold reds for the majority of the evening, that is after a couple of white wine pairings with seafood appetizers earlier in the evening. Note the word earlier – this was one of those evenings that went on for hours — I’d recommend starting out here for dinner but then heading back up to the heart of Temple Bar for post dinner drinks.
It sits in the historical district of Dublin just beyond the popular Temple Bar area, where night life is bustling into the wee hours of the morning. A great way to ignite all of your senses before and after dinner, is to meander down Temple Bar’s main drag, which eventually becomes Essex Street, and take in the smells, the colors, and mostly the sounds coming from the umpteen bars, many of which have live music playing most nights.
You’ll walk along a quaint cobblestone street until it starts to become a bit more windy and you’ll soon hit Cleaver East on your right hand side. This classic restaurant bridges old world dining with classic Irish pub ambiance and the food, is out of this world.
The history is worth noting since they’ve actually been around since 1852. The hotel was refurbished in the 1930’s and its location on the Quays, the thoroughfare for entering and leaving the city, made it the perfect location for an eclectic clientele, from visiting clergymen to bawdy musicians. This tired and shabby stopover was bought by Bono and The Edge in 1992 and transformed into a contemporary boutique hotel, the kind of place that they would choose to stay themselves. Their new Clarence Hotel opened in June 1996.
Bono can still be found here and in fact was in the night before with a group of Dublin Web Summit VIPs where they polished off some fabulous wines. I was fortunate to taste a couple of the wines his crew were drinking for most of the night — the 2010 Grand Vin de Domaine La Coste and the 2009 Grand Vin Chateau La Coste.
Before I happily got carried away with their luscious reds, I tried the PicPoul de Pinet (Domaine Langaran), with my second favorite dish, the Dublin Bay Prawn Dumplings with langostines and salmon mousse, served with oriental mushrooms, bok choy and lemongrass broth (pictured below).
I also fell in love with their Fivemiletown Goats cheese panna cotta served with basil (second photo below) served with mascarpone cream, slow roasted cherry tomatoes and pine nut praline as well as the Irish beef carpaccio with salsa verde, lemon, rocket pesto and pecorino crips (third photo pictured below). Yum!!
These scrumptious delights are the work of Executive Chef Oliver Dunne, who currently holds a Michelin Star for Bon Appetit in Malahide. Also on the appetizer menu worth exploring is the Citrus salmon with apple and fennel salad and smoked almonds or the crispy suckling pig belly with beetroot and hoi sin puree. (below)
For mains, they offer a Spinach and Buffalo Milk ricotta Cannelloni with Muscat Pumpkin with Basil Pesto and Buttered Greens, a Roast Organic Salmon with homemade Herb Gnocchi and Poached Hens Egg and Parmesan Pine Nuts (below), a Pan Fried Hake with Smoked Haddock Brandade, Lemon Gel, Spring Onion and Pistachio Dressing (second photo pictured below) and a Roast Fillet of Cod with Sweet and Sour Piquillo Peppers, Chorizo and Almond Minestrone.
Below is the Rare Breed Pork T-Bone, Slow Cooked Butternut Squash, Chorizo and Pork Shoulder Sausage served with Caramelised Pink Lady Apples. Yum!
For more classic traditional dishes, you can try the Caramelised Pink Lady Apples Surf n Turf, Seared Monkfish with Duck Croquettes or my favorite, the Cutlet of Wicklow Lamb with Crispy Lamb Breast (pictured below), Garlic Purée, Organic Golden Carrots, Crushed Swede and Rosemary Aioli.
Below is the Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, Blackberry and Lemon Curd with Cinnamon Crumb.
We give Cleaver East a royal two thumbs up and would definitely return. I loved the staff as well as my neighbors, which goes a long way. Well done!
6-8 East Essex Street
353 1 531 3500
All photo credits are from the Cleaver East as the shots I took on my camera came out a bit too dark to post.
Note: I was hosted at the restaurant by all opinions expressed are entirely my own. I was not asked to write a review nor paid to write one.