If you’re interested in food in Dublin, you’ve probably heard of the Bereen Brothers. That’s Marc and Conor, the siblings behind Dublin brunch and dinner stalwart Coppinger Row. Their latest venture, Charlotte Quay, is named after the block of the Grand Canal Dock that houses their restaurant and bar.
The spot has previously been home to Mourne Seafood, and before that to Ocean Bar. This particular patch of Grand Canal Dock sits across the water from the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and The Marker Hotel, with a stunning view of the Martha Schwartz Partners’ red LED sculpture. The building that houses Charlotte Quay lacks a natural flow of footfall, and some say this makes it a tricky spot to sustain a business. But if you build it, they will come, right? Plenty of our city’s best food businesses, such as The Fumbally and Forest Avenue, are off the beaten track, and their offering is so special that people seek them out.
I visit Charlotte Quay on its second weekend of being open, and a combination of early positive coverage and the reputation of the Bereen brothers has clearly brought people to their door. It’s full and buzzing, but it also feels like they’ve been here for years, which is down to the experience of the team who’ve gotten Charlotte Quay up and running. This isn’t their first rodeo.
Chef Killian Durkan is at the helm in the kitchen, and the theme is modern Irish with a healthy dose of multi-cultural influence. The menu is made up of around eight starter-sized plates and four main courses, with additional daily specials. There’s the option of a côte de boeuf, which is designed to serve two to three people. The table next to us order it and when I lean over to ask how it is, they’re delighted with their lives. “Perfect hangover cure,” they say, as they melt into a happy meat coma.
I’m too excited by the menu to limit myself to the traditional starter/main course approach, so my pal and I order five of the smaller plates to share. Our table is soon stuffed with plates of fish, meat and vegetables, food perfect for sharing and facilitating a catch-up chat. A plate of delicate tuna crudo (€12.50) is flavoured with a touch of orange, and layered with fine dices of red and green chilli. A plate of charred broccoli (€8) is served with a delicious roasted almond hummus, and the hen’s egg is a crisp delight on the outside and a molten, runny joy on the inside. Both are front-runners for dinnertime favourites.
The Toonsbridge Halloumi (€10) is nicely fried, flavoured with za’atar and circled by a sweet squash purée, but it is a little over-shadowed by our enthusiasm for the meat dishes. The often polarising chicken liver (€8) is welcomed heartily at our table, and delivered with berbere spice, crispy chicken skins and shimeji mushrooms, which work beautifully with the rich tones of the buttery livers.
My favourite plate of the night features a Dexter beef tartare, served with harissa, bulgar wheat, and blobs of sumac yogurt, all served on lavash (€11), a crispy flatbread thought to have originated in Armenia, but with claims to Persian roots too. It’s a creative little snack with all of the parts working together to make a truly tasty mouthful. We also order a little bowl of crubeen cromesquis with tarragon (€3), with pig’s trotters cooked down to an oozy tender pulled apart meat encased in a crispy ball of batter.
A peanut butter parfait (€7.50) with salted caramel, caramelised banana and a chocolate mousse is really well balanced. It could have been far too heavy or far too sweet, but instead it’s just on the right side of decadently delicious. A charred peach and fig dessert with amaretto and vanilla ice cream (€8.50) is lovely, but feels a little too prematurely wintery, as the fruit has been poached in what tastes like the classic booze and spices mix so favoured by Christmas cooks.
There may be some bumps to iron out, as would be expected in the early days of a new business, but I don’t experience any on my visit. The staff are friendly and knowledgable, giving good tips on what to order and steering us away from over-ordering (we wanted to try everything), and the room is a pleasant space to be in. We grab a drink at the bar connected to the restaurant after dinner, watching the rain hit the Grand Canal Dock, thinking about how lovely this veranda and vista would be on a sunny evening. Even in poor weather, it’s still a beautiful, urban view. Our bill, which includes a glass of Montepulciano (€8.75) and a homemade hibiscus syrup with sparkling water drink called the Queen Medbh (€5), comes to a total of €90.75.
Charlotte Quay has everything it needs to succeed: a great view, a talented chef, experienced leaders leading the charge and an already loyal fanbase. All they need is for Dubliners to get over the psychological barrier of eating off the beaten track. This spot is worth seeking out.
Charlotte Quay Dock, Dublin 4
t: o1 9089490
Dinner Monday through Friday
Brunch on Saturday and Sunday 11am to 4pm
Lunch in The Bar Monday through Friday 12pm to 2pm
Words: Aoife McElwain
Photos: Killian Broderick