Masterson’s steak house is on the Main Street in Swords village, at the north end of the town. This busy spot is run by husband and wife team Robert and Erica Masterson for the last four years and has built up a big following in the area.
From the outside the restaurant looks quite formal; that's really down to the quite imposing facade, or perhaps the building itself that looks like it may have been a bank at some time in the distant past, it's solid and dependable, and in fairness looks like the type of place where steak is taken seriously.
Inside the downstairs dining room is a large space that makes great use of booths to divide the room and provide some privacy to the diners. I like booths; there is something archetypical about them in a steakhouse and there is a abundance in Masterson’s as well and plenty of tables and chairs that on the Friday evening we visited were occupied by couples, small groups and a surprising amount of large outings of 10 and 12's who blended in what is a very busy and buzzy spot. The walls are hung with imagines of Hollywood movies from the golden age, and there is a definite sense of Americana.
Upstairs there is another fairly large dining room, but the vibe here is more intimate somehow. A pianist is tinkling the ivories, electric blue statement wallpaper is accented on the walls and this is a more sophisticated space.
The menu is fairly long and offers about a dozen starters including chicken wings, sticky ribs, a duck Ballantine, goat’s cheese and pan fried prawns in chilli and garlic.
Main courses are divided into the steak section, seafood, some Italian dishes and a selection of classic dishes. The steaks are aged beef, and the fish selection offers a medley of seafood, a Barramundi from the Great Barrier Reef, a fish curry while there is a duck dish, a pork belly and a couple of vegetarian options to boot. The wine list is short but well priced and there is a full bar licence. We stuck with the sparkling water and sipped and chatted as the room around us quickly filled up.
We started with some chicken wings and a prawn cocktail. The wings were terrific; really sticky with an almost black sauce on wings that must have sustained some giant chickens; the kind of chickens you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley at night time, the kind of chickens that would star in a sci-fi movie about revolutionary chickens who take over the world. The prawn cocktail was the opposite; dainty and delicate in a cocktail glass with baby gem leaves, a good Marie Rose sauce and plenty of prawns this was a good example of this retro classic.
Main courses brought the seafood curry; a robust assortment of hake and large prawns with jasmine rice, and Deirdre pronounced it a winner. The curry was delicate and allowed the flavour of the fish to come through. I went a bit mad and had the surf and turf, a large 16 oz t bone with six large prawns that I had served on the side in their own prawn bisque sauce that is a reduction of a stock made from the prawn heads and trimmings. The meat was tender and well flavoured, and it was cooked perfectly pink and accompanied by a little jug of pepper sauce. At € 24 this was excellent value, I have seen this dish on menus lately priced in the mid to late thirties.
We finished with another classic, a tall Eton mess and some coffees. Our service was excellent, and a mention of our charming waitress Emily is in order, who finds herself in Swords having started out in Devon, and arrived in Masterson's via Wales and Australia, she was knowledgeable, prompt and very friendly.
We liked Masterson’s a lot; it's a real classic American steakhouse and the food is complemented by a young and enthusiastic staff that keep up with the hustle and bustle of this busy dining room with what looks like little effort, but belies the hard work that goes into making the difficult appear easy.
This is a great spot for a night out, the atmosphere is here in spades, there is great value for money and the food is very good. Steak a claim.