An Bhialann Restaurant in Ranelagh is a family owned and run restaurant which opened its doors in November 2013. An Bhialann is a Seafood and Steak Specialist, however they cater for all tastes.
In this time of fancy this, reconstituted that and re-imagined others, An Bhialann have done something quite brave. They cook and serve quite traditional food with old fashioned charm, and with the front of house dynamic that only works when the people are all members of an extended family.
An Bhialann is at the start of Ranelagh village, coming from the direction of Sandford Road. The outside is smartly decorated with a mosaic covered exterior and a carved wooden sign. Inside the downstairs dining room is cosy, and a little opulent, with feature wallpaper, rich burgundy red button backed banquettes, some high stools and a bar area.
Upstairs the larger room has a clear view into the kitchen, which is behind plate glass. The walls are a light blue, and light coloured varnished floors add to the sense of space. We sat downstairs in a window seat giving us a birds eye view of the comings and goings of the village on a crisp February evening.
There were two menus on offer, an set menu which offers two courses for 24, or three for €27.50. To be fair, the set menu includes the option of the striploin steak, with no supplement. The A la Carte features traditional dishes, so starters offer chicken liver pate with brioche toasts, a Caesar salad, chicken wings, scallops and a warm prawn cocktail.
Main courses are split evenly between steak choices and everything else. There are fillet and strip loin steak, served with polenta chips and a choice of sauces, and each can be had as a surf and turf option with the addition of prawns and scallops, while the surf and turf special for two is a half lobster each with an 8oz filet.
Sea bass, John Dory or fish and chips are amongst the other options, along with a special of rack of lamb, and pan fried Halloumi, or a poached lobster.
We started with two classics; the chicken liver pate for Abigail, and the warm prawn cocktail for me. Abi's pate was light and tasty, and the accompanying brioche toasts were very good, while an apple compote finished the dish nicely. My prawn cocktail was served deconstructed; so I had a little pile of pan fried prawns alongside dressed leaves with a dish of Marie Rose spice on the side. I liked it a lot, the twist on the classic worked out well.
Main courses saw Abi pick the John Dory, which came beautifully presented on the plate, the fillets cut lengthways and arranged like a sunburst around a spinach and butternut squash tian, and a Burren blanc sauce.
My steak was well aged and perfectly cooked, and the polenta chips and Bearnaise sauce were both very good. I am becoming partial to polenta chips, and that's a sentence I didn't think I'd write four years ago, but there you go.
We finished off with a shared gluten free chocolate fondant, which according to the chocolate expert on the other side of the table was excellent. Coffee and tea sent us on our way. We liked An Bhialann; it’s not fancy or fussy, but the do serve good food with some charm in a nice room.