"CHIPS? SORRY, FRIES. THIS IS MONKSTOWN."
IN WHICH MY SCEPTICISM IS NOT ENTIRELY JUSTIFIED.
101 Monkstown Road
Phone: 01 537 3323
Irish Daily Mail
8 April 2017
It’s a chastening thought but we have been residents, full-time or part-time, of the Dublin suburb of Monkstown for the better part of thirty years. These days we live most of the time in depths of the country, on a hillside in north-east Cork between the valleys of the Blackwater and the Bride. But Monkstown is our second home.
It has changed since we first moved in. People would say, despite the Dart line, “isn’t it very far out?” By which they meant geographically, not in terms of the residents’ behaviour.
The residents were different too. The square on which we lived was populated by relics of oul’ dacency, artists, poets, retired hippies, the odd scientist, an occasional landlord of flats. It was lovely.
And then the ambitious “professionals” arrived, as one neighbour said, “in transition to Killiney”. There went the neighbourhood.
It’s still a lovely area but there are more Mercedes-Benzes and electrically operated gates than is healthy. And there’s a sense of entitlement too: you can see it in how people occupy the pavement on the short journeys they make on foot, and how they park.
Lobstar is bang on the money for Monkstown, dealing as it does in two luxury foodstuffs. On a Wednesday night, this small restaurant (it was the local butcher when we first moved here) was full of locals including one who was getting drunker and louder all night.
Just before he staggered out he proclaimed, for some reason “I’ll never die”.
If he had been proven wrong on the way home, I think all of the other diners would have been suspects.
Lobstar may be Very Monkstown but the food is good and, perhaps, surprisingly, straightforward. They take lobster and steak, for the most part, and don’t mess with it.
My daughter, a full-time Monkstown resident these days, and I shared half a dozen dozen oysters to get going. Normally I like my oyster with a squeeze of lemon and some black pepper but I was delighted with these: they came with a tiny dice of cucumber and apple and a smidgin of tart apple jelly. Was there a hint of celery there too? Perhaps.
Then came open ravioli with wild mushrooms. Actually, the mushrooms were about as wild the late Archbishop Connell but they were exotic and seasoned generously with truffle oil, so I’m not complaining. Even better they came bathed in a rich, earthy creamy sauce, between sheets of silky, al dente pasta, beneath a veritable snowstorm of fluffy Parmesan.
And to think that I had ordered this lovely dish in a spirit of scepticism. Well, that will teach me.
There was a poke of tuna too. This Hawaiian is becoming rather fashionable and it’s understandable. We enjoyed the simplicity of chopped tuna, seasoned with soya sauce, sesame oil, coriander and so forth, simply formed into a timbale and served at room temperature. The oiliness was alleviated by crunchy toasted sourdough.
Main courses were a mixed bag. The Lobstar burger came with a chunk of good lobster and a delicate enough bun but the meat element, while adequate and perfectly acceptable didn’t sing of beefiness, crust and smoke. I’m not sure the twice-cooked chips, sorry fries, this is Monkstown, really merited the effort.
“A New York style” lobster roll – popularised in recent times by Fish Shack in Sandycove, Temple Bar and now Malahide, was good. The roll was sweet brioche, suitably light, and the filling a combination of egg mayonnaise (described as “egg fried”) and lobster. It was fine.
We rather liked Lobstar, with its buzz, its cosiness and very charming service. Having approached it with a degree of scepticism (lobster and steak in Monkstown huh?) I was pleasantly surprised. There’s good cooking and good raw materials here and it’s not often that one can say that.
It is an awful name, though.
We had wine by the glass – close enough to the equivalent of sharing a bottle – and mineral water and our bill came to €126 before service.