The Old Music Shop is a modeern irish restaurant up by Parnell Square. Paolo and Catriona McBride, producer of the restaurant show take in the sights.
We were off to try the new restaurant called The Old Music Shop, which is in Frederick Street where Waltons used to be - hence the name. It's all part of The Castle Hotel now, which I'm told is the oldest hotel in Dublin. It takes up seven or eight of the elegant Georgian mansions of Frederick Street. As we walked up, there was the signage reading Old Music Shop, but it looked a bit closed, prompting Caitriona to try several other doors. After a while I noticed a small sign in a light fitting that said 'open', so in we went.
We took the table by the fireplace and took in our surroundings. There's no doubt, the Georgians knew how to give a room pleasing proportions. The décor is pleasant, comfortable and inoffensive, striking largely neutral tones.
Caitriona chose the prawn cocktail and I chose the 'garlic pizette, smothered with herb and garlic butter'. There exists in Italy a dish called 'pizzette' which literally means 'small pizzas'. Occasionally these small pieces of dough are deep-fried, which makes them very tasty. I took a guess that that was what was meant and ordered it.
There's a short, but reasonably priced wine list and from it we picked an Albariño from Rias Baixas, a crisp and tangy white from northwest Spain at €36. When our waitress brought it to the table, she whipped out the cork and filled our glasses. There should, of course, be an intermediary step, the one that goes 'would madam like to taste the wine?' This isn't done to see if you like the wine, it's assumed you do, or you wouldn't have ordered it. No, you get to taste the wine right at the start just in case there's a fault with it.
As it happened the bottle had no faults, so missing out that tasting moment did no harm. Nonetheless, I do feel that these niceties serve a purpose and the floor staff really ought to be trained in how to serve a bottle of wine. Considering it cost nearly as much as the food for both of us, it should be treated with respect.
When our starters arrived we both did a double take. The prawn cocktail was served on a plate, not very traditional, but the ingredients were unusual to say the least. Here's Caitriona's description: "The sauce was pink mayonnaise with no punch and the kitchen sink seemed to have been thrown at it - feta, peppers and cooked broccoli made an appearance in the dish."
I had three slices of ciabatta on my plate. They were, as promised, spread with garlic butter, but pizzette they were definitely not. Looking through the menu again I found, under nibbles and tapas, 'oven-fresh stone baked ciabatta smothered in our home-made garlic butter.' Aha, what I'd been served was garlic bread, not pizzette. Mystery solved.
The main courses were served and Caitriona found herself with a huge portion of bacon and cabbage, designed for the very hungry. The ham was cut more in sandwich style and four slices covered a mountain of mash, roast potatoes, carrots, turnips, French beans and cabbage with a fairly forgettable white sauce. "How's your bacon and cabbage?" I asked. "Good, except the ham's been sliced far too thinly. Two thicker slices of ham instead of four thin ones would improve the dish."
I'd ordered the beef in Guinness, which worked very well. For once I could actually taste the Guinness and the beef had been slow cooked until tender. If you like classic Irish dishes, this one would have pleased you.
We didn't have any dessert, but sat there chatting and drinking coffee. We talked about The Old Music Shop and I'll leave the last word to Caitriona, since we both felt exactly the same. "If the menu stops trying to be the United Nations and just picks a side, I'd love to come back and try it again." Me too. The bill came to €81.