Marco Pierre White now has his name over Fitzers on Dawson Street. It hasn't been there very long and I'd normally give a restaurant time to bed down, but Marco Pierre White is a consummate professional who has TV shows where he tells people how to run a restaurant, so I presumed that this one would work properly right from the start.
They're not pretending that Marco himself will be there every night, which is honest -- they're only saying that this is his menu and he's stamped his style on the restaurant. I can't say the restaurant looked much different to me inside than it did as Fitzers, but I can say that the level of service is well above average. There's a very professional front of house team, in which everyone knows what they're doing. It's a pleasure to find a restaurant where the waiting staff can explain the menu when asked and who know the wine list as well. It ought to be a given, but most of the time it isn't.
The menu is a large A3 card with the bill of fare on one side and a full-size photo of Marco holding a cleaver on the other, looking like Jack in The Shining. A customer response card on the table has the same picture on the front, as does the back of the dessert menu. So you could say it's branded.
The menu has an unusual structure. It begins with the daily lunch specials, one for each day of the week: Monday, beef pie; Tuesday, ham hock; Wednesday, fish pie; Thursday, pork belly; Friday, fish; Saturday, smoked haddock; Sunday, a roast. These are all priced at €12.95. A dozen starters come next, priced from €9 to €13, making the daily specials look cheap. There's a good mix: gravadlax, potted duck, smoked salmon, crab mayonnaise, Bayonne ham, a couple of salads, charcuterie, potted shrimps, asparagus, kipper pâté and oysters.
But this place describes itself as a steakhouse and grill, so the main courses do just what it says on the tin. Steaks are listed first, all Hereford beef, and you can have a 10oz rib-eye or an 8oz fillet -- all with a choice of five finishes -- ranging from €22 to €29.
The grill part comes next: calves' liver, a spatchcocked chicken, a 16oz T-bone and a herbed chicken. Fish and chips is €17.95 and there are three variants of halibut steaks, all €24.95. Side orders are €3.75. I would call these fair prices -- they're not outstanding value and they're not rip-offs either. We ordered the crab mayonnaise and the kipper pâté to start, and a rib-eye Bearnaise and lambs' liver to follow.
The wine list is still Fitzers' and any list that includes Manzanilla by the glass instantly endears itself to me. We ordered the excellent Château Rian, a white Bordeaux listed at €24, and two bottles of mineral water at €4.50 each.
We both had a good meal here: I liked both starters and the main courses were well done. We finished up with a nostalgia-inducing rice pudding, which we shared.
What Marco Pierre White has done here is set up a good steakhouse with nothing overly complex on the menu, but what's there is well done. It manages to create a feel of casual chic, which I'm sure is intended, and it reminds me more than a little of the sort of smart brasseries you find in London. The bill came to €110.65.