EAST SIDE TAVERN
104-105 Lower Leeson Street
Phone: 01 678 9529
The idea of the gastropub has taken quite a while to take hold in Ireland where licensed premises have traditionally been merely the main focus for our immature relationship with alcohol. And just alcohol. While the English traditionally proffered the odd pickled egg and even went so far as to invent the ploughman’s lunch in the 1960s, the Irish pub has generally been reserved for the sole purpose of consuming pints and, occasionally, chasers. Oh, and a Dubonnet for the lady. Thanks.
East Side Tavern is very much a gastropub in the true meaning of the term. It takes food very seriously and the kitchen is under the direction of Gary Tilley while the whole operation is part of the Mercantile Group which includes such Dublin landmark restaurants as Marcel’s, Pichet, The Green Hen and Opium. Before it became East Side Tavern, this was a bog standard drinking establishment that underlined, once again, the dreariness of the Irish pub. But now all is changed.
We’ll come to the food in a moment. The fit-out is terrific: plenty of leather upholstery, chic bare brick, lots of architectural salvage but all brought together with a sense of style, direction and taste. The bar stocks 250 whiskeys and does a serious trade in serious cocktails. The beers are proper beers, mostly from craft breweries.
Is it any surprise then that the food is good? They do fine steaks and some of the best wings in town. All the old favourites are here from fish and chips to beef and Guinness pie to pork ribs. But while such dishes are very familiar, at East Side Tavern they are done with style and panache (and occasional unexpected twists). For example, it was at East Side Tavern that I first encountered sweet woodruff, a wild herb that is worth trying.
In terms of atmopshere, there is a buzz. Located just a few minutes from St Stephen’s Green it fills up with locals and with the more discriminating kind of tourist. It’s a remarkable example of how a pub can embody the best elements of the Irish tradition along with influences imported from around the world, notably from New York and London.
In fact, East Side Tavern needs to be studied closely by publicans who constantly bemoan the the decline of the Irish pub. Because East Side Tavern is the future and it’s leading by example.