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Bridge Bar and Bistro, Grand Canal Quay

Bridgebarandgrill.ie

The Malting Tower, Grand Canal Quay, Dublin 2.

+353 (0)1 639 4941

Price: € 0-60 (for two with wine)

Hours: Monday to Friday 12pm - 3pm 5pm - 10pm
Saturday 12pm - 10pm

Review

Bridge Bar and Bistro is down by the Grand Canal Quay. It is in the Malting Tower, and half of it runs under one of the old railway bridges. When I'm in Italy during the summer, I do what all Italians do: I eat in the shade. Lunchtime sun in southern Italy is far too strong to make eating in the sunshine a pleasure. It hurts your eyes as it reflects off the crockery and it's too hot to make eating meals enjoyable.

In all my years in Ireland, I've never had to hide from the sun. Here, we tend to get a gentle sun and temperatures in the low 20s. I can eat in full sunlight when it's like that. Get that temperature to 30°C or more and it becomes a very different story.

This week may well be the very first time that an Irish sun has driven me to look for shade. It must have been one of the hottest days of the summer because, after I'd parked, I had to cross the road to get to The Bridge Bar, where I was meeting Gerard Carthy. To my amazement, my shoes were sticking to the road because the tarmac had begun to melt.

I don't know at what temperature tarmac goes sticky, but it has to be well over 30°C. The last time my shoes started sticking to the road was on a hot day in Naples.

The Bridge Bar has a few tables outside on a terrace and they were in the shade, perfect for enjoying the sun without being blinded by it. So that's where we took a table, enjoying those rarities – warm air and bright skies.

The lunch menu is priced like many are in Dublin; it offers you one course for €16, two for €22 or three courses for €26. What makes it different from many others is what dishes are on offer at that price. For example, among the choices were crab and crayfish salad, confit duck with black-pudding croquettes, pan-fried scallops and a salad Nicoise. These are not cheap dishes and normally when they're on a set menu they come with a supplement. When you find them included in the set-menu price, you're really getting value for money.

We thought briefly about a glass of wine, but then decided that in hot weather nothing would go down better than a cold beer. We ordered a non-alcoholic Erdinger weiss beer for Gerard and a Peroni Nastro Azzurro for me.

It took a bit of time to order, since there were enough dishes to make choosing harder than usual. Eventually, Gerard ordered the pulled-pork croquettes, which was a daily special, for his starter and then the cod and chips for his main course. I started with the crab and crayfish salad and followed that with the pea and asparagus risotto.

Some good breads came to the table and we picked on that while we waited for the starters. When they arrived, the first thing we noticed was the presentation. They really looked very good, presented on large, white plates. The pulled pork was presented as three cubes, covered in seeds and deep-fried, so they were crispy on the outside and tender and sweet inside. A pineapple salsa worked very well with the pork, adding an acidic element that contrasted nicely with the meat.

My salad came as a single large tian, some mayonnaise on the side and with a crisp, thin slice of toasted sour-dough bread.

And as for quantities, there was nothing mean about either dish – they were big enough to satisfy even a large appetite.

The Bridge Bar has had several incarnations and I've reviewed it before, dining in the room that is housed under the railway arch. I liked it, but I think that this time, under the aegis of Martina Fox, it was a good deal better. Certainly, the starters made an excellent first impression.

The quality of the food was just as impressive with our main courses. Gerard's fish and chips was served as three pieces of panko-coated cod, along with a small tinned bucket of chips, some green leaves and a small ramekin of tartare sauce. The coating on the cod had been cooked perfectly to a golden brown and there wasn't a sign of the cooking oil on it. Inside, the cod was just right, the flesh nicely firm.

I think I had the best dish of the day in front of me. I had a large white bowl and inside it was a symphony of green. The asparagus, the peas and the rice were all varying shades of green and the dish was topped off with Parmesan shavings and pea shoots. This was a truly exceptional risotto, the rice cooked exactly right, and the flavours combining to make a really fresh, summery taste. It was possibly the best risotto I've eaten for years.

By the time we'd finished our main courses the sun had begun to shine on our table. I found myself getting increasingly hot, so we moved to another table in the shade. It occurs to me as I write that, that it's a sentence I've never written before and may never write again. Forced to move by the heat of an Irish sun?

We ordered an Americano for Gerard and an espresso for me, neither of us tempted to desserts. When the coffees came I was delighted with my espresso. It was served in a demi-tasse that had a lid, serving to keep it hot. "Made in Portugal," said our waitress when I asked about it. It was a good espresso, too; a good end to a good meal.

The bill came to €67.80, of which €44 was our food. I thought that was great value, as the quality of the cooking and the ingredients was well above the normal.

On a budget

I can't recommend the set menu highly enough. Normally, a set menu carries dishes made of ingredients that aren't high value. When crab and crayfish are on a set menu, you're on to a winner.

On a blowout

You can spend more on the dinner menu. Order the hand-dived scallops at €13 followed by the fillet of beef at €30 and you'll have spent as much as you can on food.

High point

The risotto.

Low point

Finishing the risotto.

When I'm in Italy during the summer, I do what all Italians do: I eat in the shade. Lunchtime sun in southern Italy is far too strong to make eating in the sunshine a pleasure. It hurts your eyes as it reflects off the crockery and it's too hot to make eating meals enjoyable.

In all my years in Ireland, I've never had to hide from the sun. Here, we tend to get a gentle sun and temperatures in the low 20s. I can eat in full sunlight when it's like that. Get that temperature to 30°C or more and it becomes a very different story.

This week may well be the very first time that an Irish sun has driven me to look for shade. It must have been one of the hottest days of the summer because, after I'd parked, I had to cross the road to get to The Bridge Bar, where I was meeting Gerard Carthy. To my amazement, my shoes were sticking to the road because the tarmac had begun to melt.

I don't know at what temperature tarmac goes sticky, but it has to be well over 30°C. The last time my shoes started sticking to the road was on a hot day in Naples.

The Bridge Bar has a few tables outside on a terrace and they were in the shade, perfect for enjoying the sun without being blinded by it. So that's where we took a table, enjoying those rarities – warm air and bright skies.

The lunch menu is priced like many are in Dublin; it offers you one course for €16, two for €22 or three courses for €26. What makes it different from many others is what dishes are on offer at that price. For example, among the choices were crab and crayfish salad, confit duck with black-pudding croquettes, pan-fried scallops and a salad Nicoise. These are not cheap dishes and normally when they're on a set menu they come with a supplement. When you find them included in the set-menu price, you're really getting value for money.

We thought briefly about a glass of wine, but then decided that in hot weather nothing would go down better than a cold beer. We ordered a non-alcoholic Erdinger weiss beer for Gerard and a Peroni Nastro Azzurro for me.

It took a bit of time to order, since there were enough dishes to make choosing harder than usual. Eventually, Gerard ordered the pulled-pork croquettes, which was a daily special, for his starter and then the cod and chips for his main course. I started with the crab and crayfish salad and followed that with the pea and asparagus risotto.

Some good breads came to the table and we picked on that while we waited for the starters. When they arrived, the first thing we noticed was the presentation. They really looked very good, presented on large, white plates. The pulled pork was presented as three cubes, covered in seeds and deep-fried, so they were crispy on the outside and tender and sweet inside. A pineapple salsa worked very well with the pork, adding an acidic element that contrasted nicely with the meat.

My salad came as a single large tian, some mayonnaise on the side and with a crisp, thin slice of toasted sour-dough bread.

And as for quantities, there was nothing mean about either dish – they were big enough to satisfy even a large appetite.

The Bridge Bar has had several incarnations and I've reviewed it before, dining in the room that is housed under the railway arch. I liked it, but I think that this time, under the aegis of Martina Fox, it was a good deal better. Certainly, the starters made an excellent first impression.

The quality of the food was just as impressive with our main courses. Gerard's fish and chips was served as three pieces of panko-coated cod, along with a small tinned bucket of chips, some green leaves and a small ramekin of tartare sauce. The coating on the cod had been cooked perfectly to a golden brown and there wasn't a sign of the cooking oil on it. Inside, the cod was just right, the flesh nicely firm.

I think I had the best dish of the day in front of me. I had a large white bowl and inside it was a symphony of green. The asparagus, the peas and the rice were all varying shades of green and the dish was topped off with Parmesan shavings and pea shoots. This was a truly exceptional risotto, the rice cooked exactly right, and the flavours combining to make a really fresh, summery taste. It was possibly the best risotto I've eaten for years.

By the time we'd finished our main courses the sun had begun to shine on our table. I found myself getting increasingly hot, so we moved to another table in the shade. It occurs to me as I write that, that it's a sentence I've never written before and may never write again. Forced to move by the heat of an Irish sun?

We ordered an Americano for Gerard and an espresso for me, neither of us tempted to desserts. When the coffees came I was delighted with my espresso. It was served in a demi-tasse that had a lid, serving to keep it hot. "Made in Portugal," said our waitress when I asked about it. It was a good espresso, too; a good end to a good meal.

The bill came to €67.80, of which €44 was our food. I thought that was great value, as the quality of the cooking and the ingredients was well above the normal.

On a budget

I can't recommend the set menu highly enough. Normally, a set menu carries dishes made of ingredients that aren't high value. When crab and crayfish are on a set menu, you're on to a winner.

On a blowout

You can spend more on the dinner menu. Order the hand-dived scallops at €13 followed by the fillet of beef at €30 and you'll have spent as much as you can on food.

High point

The risotto.

Low point

Finishing the risotto.

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