Fade Street restaurant L’Gueuleton is an institution now. Having opened in 2004, it has seen off a recession and the short-lived (and much-missed) reality TV show based on the street. In that time, the restaurant has grown in size and seen the street develop into one of the city’s most fashionable addresses.
Though it has ditched the no-booking policy it began with that used to draw lines queueing on Fade Street, it has retained its lack of signage, much like its neighbour The Bar With No Name, which is operated by the same group. About two years back, the restaurant siphoned off a chunk of its space and put up a neon sign that simply said “bar” and “open”.
Essentially, the bar at L’Gueuleton is so minimal, it barely even exists. It maintains no separate identity from the restaurant and despite its popularity, the bar itself often remains sparsely populated. And that is simply because seats outside remain the one of the best places the city has to offer to watch a small slice of it go by.
And we’re nothing if not gluttons for punishment. Attendance under the red-and-white striped awnings has not dwindled during this endurance test of a winter, with its perpetual cold snaps and weirdly named storms. The seats and benches outside are typically crowded, with the best display of scarves, hats, and coats since Bridge Of Spies. Of course this is no real hardship – particularly when considered against the struggles of the those who pass the outdoor seating hoping to score some change or bum a smoke.
On our brief visits indoors, the drinks are not particularly cheap (a Guinness or a Smithwicks costs €5.30) but they are stocked with beers from Berlin brewers And Union, whose Unfiltered Lager (€6.20 a bottle) in particular goes down a treat. The bar is always well-staffed – presumably a benefit of being a small part of a larger body – and service is routinely swift and friendly.
But the terrace’s popularity, in comparison with the indoor bar, make you wonder why the idea of sitting on the street outside a bar is such a rarity in Dublin. You get the impression that in a city not dominated by the interests of car-parking magnates in Dublin City Traders Alliance, we’d be pedestrianised from South Great George’s Street all the way to Grafton. Nonetheless, I’ll be back to L’Gueuleton’s bar – Beast of the East or not – the only place that rivals Grogan’s for lounging outside.
1 Fade Street, Dublin 2
Words: Ian Lamont
Photos: Killian Broderick