Situated in the heart of Ranelagh and just down from the LUAS stop is the Exchequer Wine bar. Inside there is a lot of dark woods, but also some very nice lighting, with pendulous fittings and filament fiery bulbs. The bar runs down the left, with seating to the right and then the room opens with tables on each side.
This is a wine bar, and the menu works around that, so that you get is a carefully chosen menu of dishes that are perfect for enjoying with your wine, or substantial enough to make the food the main event. Nibble on almonds or olives, then there is a selection of plates that can be had big or small, and then there are mains including the fish special of the evening, pan fried cod. They are also running a French season, and there is a menu of classic French dishes - Beef Bourguignon and Bouillabaisse – paired with selected wines.
Prosciutto blue cheese and pear bruschetta is gooey goodness. There are plenty of thinly sliced apples, the prosciutto is freshly cut and tender and the cheese is to die for. It’s beautifully cut with a glass of red Nero d’Avola from Sicily, whose sweetness and pepper complements the dish and keeps this firmly as an Italian partnership
Prawns Pil Pil is made with large Argentinean prawns – they look and feel and taste like Dublin Bay, not tiger - , and is rich and spicy. A simply dressed leaf salad in a little bowl and some excellent toasted sourdough from la Rousse bakery completes this trio of dishes on a plank. Beautiful presentation and a glass of Vinho Verde Albarinho from northern Portugal complete the package. (Both of these dishes can also be had as a large plate, and as such would be a tidy meal in themselves.)
My main course, so to speak, was apt for a wine bar; a dish made with wine. From the French Season menu beef cheek Bourguignon was mouth wateringly delicious; impossibly tender beef, parsnip purée, roast carrots, Portobello mushroom and herb topping, all with a rich red wine jus. This was a heavenly plate, and little bits of crispy pancetta had been sprinkled throughout, so every mouthful tingled with flavour. Take this with a glass of Haut Medoc Bordeaux and you’re in French foodie heaven.
A homemade Brownie with chocolate sauce and vanilla bean gelato brought the meal home. I missed the food scientist who is a Chocophile and would have loved this, but I brought her a piece anyway, secure in the knowledge that she would approve.
Exchequer is a perfect wine bar and restaurant, not too big, not too loud, nicely full, and not rammed. Great food on a carefully curated menu and a list of wines to match. There are even beers if you’re that way inclined. Highly recommended.