58/59 Glasthule Road
Phone: 01 280 9120
Caviston’s is a Dublin institution, a down-to-earth restaurant of great charm that treats the best seafood with respect, i.e. leaves it alone as much as possible. Small, cosy, with a good short wine list and just a stroll from the DART station. Bliss.
I tend to wax so lyrical about Caviston’s that I always fear that I overpromise or mislead my audience. There’s nothing fancy about this small restautant near the sea in south Dublin and the cooking is as simple as can be. I am happy to say that Cavo’s (as it’s known locally) is most unlikely ever to be awarded a Michelin star.
The restaurant is part of a larger operation that involves a deli, fish poultry and game counter and a greengrocery; as a result, the seafood here is simply the best. I can say, hand on heart, that I have never had a piece of fish from Caviston’s that was not impeccably fresh; and I’m afraid I can’t say the same of any other fishmonger in the country (and I’ve bought from a lot of them).
So, the kitchen at Caviston’s starts with the advantage of pristine raw materials. It then applies the Caviston’s philosophy which is to do as little to it as decently possible. What is the point of serving fine seafood, they seem to be saying, if we don’t let it speak for itself.
As a result, Caviston’s is a place of pilgrimage, a meeting place, a resource for certain ladies who lunch, a location favoured by some of the rich and famous when they want to do something low key; Caviston’s is a lot of things to a lot of people.
It’s certainly more than the sum of its menu, but let’s consider that menu because this is at the heart of what the place is about (you just have to add a great sense of hospitality and the friendliest imaginable service and you have the whole thing in a nutshell; oh, and the larger than life Peter Caviston, now retired but not so as you would notice).
Over the years I have revelled in the oysters, served simply on a bed of ice, with lemon, Tabasco and a little shallot vinegar. I have larruped into crab claws, tossed in a hot pan with butter and garlic, maybe even a touch of chilli; I have eaten all manner of fish, the flat ones usually with a beurre noisette and capers (the way I always cook it at home now). I have messily consumed buttered lobster and whole, grilled Dublin Bay prawns (with Dublin Bay just a few hundred metres round the corner). And I have devoured the better part of a loaf of the excellent brown soda bread when I used it to soak up the buttery juices of spiced prawns.
Despite the fact that I often see people having a bottle of Chassagne-Montrachet at lunch (you have to remember the proximity to the most expensive residential areas in Ireland), Cavo’s is not expensive, nor posh nor in any sense “up itself”.
As I say, it takes the best seafood and does very little to it. And if that sounds easy, let me just say, you have no idea. It’s a gem, a Dublin institution at this stage. And I would like to eat there at least once a week.