Forty Four Bar and restaurant is situated on the Main Street in Swords in North County Dublin. The business was recently refurbished and the result is a stylish contemporary bar and restaurant.
A couple of years ago we reviewed a small Italian restaurant in Dun Laoghaire selling authentic homemade pizzas and pastas. The chef was an Italian chap called Antoni Lentini, and we really liked his food. Antoni is now cooking in Forty Four, and it was for this reason as much as any that we paid a visit.
From the outside it’s hard to miss, Forty Four is a big building and it’s painted an ochre colour on the outside. Inside it is soothing with creams that match the wooden floor and furniture, and the side wall is one long picture window beyond which there is a terrace with more tables. I imagine it would be lovely in the summer, but in January it’s enough that we can look out, and it certainly makes the space feel very open.
On a Sunday evening it’s packed and there is a traditional Irish music session in full swing towards the front, and we make out way to the tables at the back, where we can hear the music but also hear ourselves.
The menu is classic bistro fare with starters including calamari with Tartare sauce, homemade fish cakes, a Caprese salad, and soup of the day or chowder and chicken skewers. They are all very reasonably priced, with the most expensive coming in at just €5.95. The main courses continue in a similar vein and we choose from a shank of lamb, pork belly and rich gravy, a roast poussain with mash and gravy, moules mariniere with fresh brown bread a couple of steaks and a seafood fettuccini. Again the price point here is just right, most are priced at a tenner to low teens, so it’s possible to eat two courses for around €15.
The fishcakes were very light, made with breadcrumbs rather than potato, the flavour of the fish shone through. Calamari rings were soaked in milk before being battered, ensuring they were tender. The Caprese salad was light and delicious, and we all happily enjoyed our starters.
The main courses were equally as good; the lamb shank was slow cooked, and came with a rocket salad and mash. Falling off the bone it was very good indeed. The seafood pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, and a rich creamy seafood sauce finished it off nicely. The chicken was probably the weakest link, they normally do a spatchcocked chicken roasted with rosemary, but a delivery mix up left them with baby Poussains, which are difficult, as they tend to dry out. In all a small thing, and no doubt an unusual occurrence, since they generally don’t sell it.
We finished with a shared chocolate fudge cake and some coffees. Forty Four is a very good spot for a casual bite, the food is all freshly prepared, and the service is excellent. Their pricing is exceptionally good, and for food of this quality, it’s great to see. Great spot for a Sunday lunch, and judging the crowds when we visited, it’s proving a hit with the locals.