The Library is the new restaurant in the Dandelion on St. Stephens Green, just at the top of Grafton Street and directly across from the Luas. Dandelion has been famous as a pub and club, and now the new Library restaurant is aiming to make it a top food venue as well.
Head chef Robert Sabongi is a chap whose food we have enjoyed, both in his own restaurant in Drogheda and more recently in Bridge Bar and Grill. Robert has a lightness of touch and a great appreciation of complementary flavours and his food is always just that little bit special.
The restaurant is at the rear of the premises, and enjoys its own space, separated from the front cocktail bar by a sheet of glass. The Library effect is produced by clever décor; there is wallpaper that depicts rows of books, while thousands of real books sit on shelves and complete the look. It’s a large space, with well spaced tables affording some privacy when dining, and really cool red leather bucket chairs which I really like; they look good and are comfortable.
The menu is classic Sabongi; his duck salad with pomegranate, ginger and oriental dressing makes an appearance with the starters, which also include a dressed crab with a fried duck egg on top, a naturally smoked haddock risotto or a half dozen Carlingford oysters with shallot vinaigrette. Most starters are priced around the €8 mark, except the oysters, and offer good value for complex dishes with quite a few elements.
Main courses offer a couple of pies, land and sea, and some fish and a seafood linguine, but the Library is nailing it’s steakhouse colours to the mast here with a big choice of aged steaks for a variety of appetites, going up to the gi-normous 36oz Porterhouse for two; that’s approximately a kilo of beef for the metric minded among you.
The Amuse Bouche of pea and herb risotto got us off to a flying start, and then it was the warm duck salad and another duck special. The warm duck salad is a favourite, and the combinations of flavours – pomegranate, ginger, lime and the Orient - leave the taste buds tingling. The duck special was a piece of pan fried breast with wilted greens and a deep fried quail egg wrapped in duck confit meat on top. Crispy on the outside, the egg was still runny inside, and the duck meat was delicious as its inner shell.
Main courses continued to please; the seafood linguine contained mussels and prawns, garlic and a hint of chilli in the rich tomato sauce, the pasta was al dente and this is dish I would drop in for of an afternoon and enjoy with lots of sparkling water. A rib eye steak was full of flavour, further emphasising the lack of flavour in the one I cooked at home a few days earlier. No doubt Robert has a better supplier; his crack cocaine to my paracetamol.
We couldn’t do dessert, leave it for another time, and finished with two good coffees. The Library will do well; it’s reasonably priced, service is excellent and the room is pretty cool. The food is top notch and they have the benefit of a full bar and cocktails, as well as the short but well chosen wine list. Renew your membership to this Library.