Le Bon Crubeen has been packing them in since opening with their ‘French food for Feck All’ model.
The menu’s feature some interesting dishes, the value is very good and they are in that part of Dublin 1 which suffers from a lack of good places to eat. Both Paolo and Gerard have eaten there, here’s a bit of both.
We’ve had dinner in Le Bon Crubeen twice recently, either side of Christmas. The place is as busy as ever, and even on our second visit in the dying days of February there was a good crowd in on a Tuesday evening.
We were three, and so had a good cros section of the dishes. The only starter of the evening was a crab and tarragon salad with orange which was very well made, and erred on the side of caution with the dressing, letting the natural flavours come through. Main courses of pan seared cod came on a bed of delicious split pea puree, to which we added a portion of thick cut chips that had the crispy shell and fluffy centre. A roast pork belly with crackling came with seared scallops and apple puree and set the taste buds humming, while a vegetarian pasta from the early bird menu was a roast pumpkin ravioli with buttered spinach and herb dressing.
A solitary dessert of chocolate fondat was shared three ways and good coffees sent us on our way. The early set menu is €23.95 for three courses, and Le Bon Crubeen is as good as ever.
I found myself in Dublin's centre before Christmas on my last day of panic purchasing. I'd arranged a late lunch with Bairbre Power, who suggested we could try Le Bon Crubeen in Talbot Street, not far from the Indo's head office.
Even though lunchtime proper was well over, the place was still packed with shoppers taking a breather and eating. We found a table in the annexe to the main dining room and settled into the menus.
The first thing that strikes you on the menu is the price of the main courses -- they're all between €10 and €12.50, which isn't a lot. Starters are priced more in line with the norm -- apart from the soups they're all €7.50. There's a fair spread of choices as well: the starters include fish cakes, goose rillettes, a mushroom and bread pudding, fried Brie, a selection of dips and breads, and, lastly, steamed mussels, which are available as a starter portion or as a main course at €12.50.
The main courses don't stint on ingredients, even though they're priced low. There are 10 to choose from, including a goats' cheese tart, battered whiting and chips, baked salmon, sea bass, bangers and mash, a confit duck leg, braised lamb shank and an 8oz sirloin steak, which is great value for €12.50.
The wine list is short -- less than two-dozen wines are listed -- but they are priced to sell. Nearly all of the wines on the list are priced at less than €30, with just the Champagnes and a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc breaking that barrier. A Prosecco is yours for €23. It may be a short list, but there are some decent wines on it, including the Collavini Pinot Grigio, the Mudhouse Sauvignon Blanc and the Baron de Ley Rioja.
We ordered a soup for Bairbre and the goose rillettes for me as our starters, then the confit duck for Bairbre and the fish and chips for me. The starters arrived and they were very well presented: good crockery and the contents carefully laid out. It was a much better presentation than I was expecting. Bairbre's soup was a winter vegetable, so it was hearty, wholesome and warming, rather than subtle and delicate. My goose rillettes (a kind of smooth goose pâté) was very good and came with Melba toast and a celeriac rémoulade. I thought that it was well above average in execution and was well thought out as a dish.
The same high standard continued with our main courses. Bairbre really liked her duck confit and I could see why: it was cooked perfectly, the flesh coming easily off the bone, the outside skin crispy and brown, the meat pink and tender. My fish and chips was pretty good as well, it was a good piece of fish, the chips were good and the tartare sauce that came with it made a great dip for the chips. And just like our starters, these two dishes looked good on the plate, which at these prices is something of an added bonus.
We had both eaten well, but in the spirit of investigation we felt we needed a dessert to truly assess lunch properly. We decided to share a Bailey's bread and butter pudding, which tasted a lot better than you'd imagine. After this I ordered an espresso and, as usual, I waited for a small cup of black coffee with no crema. I didn't get that; I got a proper espresso with a light brown crema on top and a rich, full flavour in the cup. One of the best I've had in a long time. Despite the fact that the restaurant was very busy, we got swift and pleasant service, we'd eaten well and I got a bill for just €53.45 without service charge.
The north city-centre isn't awash with restaurants, so Le Bon Crubeen is a very welcome addition. Long may it prosper.