– Mighty Docks

Mighty Docks by gastro bar

The sun fell behind the Grand Canal Theatre signalling the end of the weekend.
On a sunny Sunday evening, revellers enjoyed their last bits of merriment before a new week outside ely gastro bar on Hanover Quay. Inside, my date was engorging on a fish and chips dinner, bright-eyed and barely coming up for air. Ely’s version was just declared a new entry in the ongoing chart of “best fish and chips ever.”

ely gastro bar 001The evening sun setting gave the view of the people outside a soft glow and the room inside a warm light softened by the green tint of the floor-to-ceiling windows that make up half of ely’s wall.
A shared plate of exquisite carpaccio of beetroot and goat cheese salad (€7.95) started our meal off on the right foot. How can a boring old beetroot and goat cheese salad be exquisite?
When red and gold beetroots are finely sliced and soaked in orange, while juicy segments of the fruit are interspersed with crunchy leaves topped with crushed toasted almonds, topped off with a creamy, mild but charming goat cheese, that’s how. It was perfect for the summery evening.
An order of garlic tiger prawns with spaghetti (€17.95) for a main was perhaps a mistake, thanks to a case of mismanaged expectations.
I see prawns and spaghetti on a menu and I imagine sitting at a seaside table with a plate topped with homemade pasta and unctuous, flavour bombs of fat, juicy prawns with heaps of garlic oil and chilli. Ely’s version was good, don’t get me wrong, though a touch too much lemon juice added to the lack of punch from the Tiger prawns, which could never have competed with those fat, juicy Dublin Bay suckers in my mind.
It was when I had a taste of the fish & chips (€15.50) that I truly felt diner’s FOMO. Generous portions of hake in a light, crispy batter arrived with a sweet pea puree and a little baby deep fryer basket of home-cut skinny chips – I fought hard to get my date to relinquish more than one bite.

ely gastro bar 002My wine went a long way to patching things up, however. A glass of Hugel Gentil reisling/pinot blanc/gewürztraminer/muscat conglomeration (€7) was expertly selected for me by the waiter. A glass of Belgian Omer Strong Gold (€7) was a good complement for the fish and chips chosen from a decent selection of 40 or so bottled beers.
We shared a brilliant little dessert of light white chocolate mousse and summer berry compote that came with a deliciously sticky crumble (€6.80). With one macchiato, a bottle of sparkling water, the whole lot came to a satisfactory €69.85.
Erik and Michelle Robson started ely in 1999 when they opened a wine bar. “Both of us enjoyed good food and wine but we weren’t particularly interested in having to book dinner for two and the entailing verbal contract for a three course meal,” Erik explains. “To be honest we were more interested in having a good bottle of wine, at a price we could afford, plus some tapas style dishes. Rather than try to take on the established restaurants as a restaurant we were emphatically a wine bar.”
In 2006, they opened ely bar & brasserie in the 200 year old tobacco and wine warehouse in the CHQ building and found themselves looking after four to five hundred customers a day from lunch to dinner, of course taking their passion for wine already appreciated at ely wine bar with them.
As a three-tiered business, it makes sense that the couple bridged the gap between their first two venues by opening ely gastro bar shortly after choosing Hanover Quay as their location.
It wouldn’t be wild to imagine that the couple may have questioned this choice when development on Hanover Quay and Grand Canal Square stalled. “Ely gastro bar has held its core values while we waited for the theatre and hotel to open and the area to be completed, all through the recession,” said Erik. This patience has clearly paid off. Grand Canal Square has come through the other side and has a genuine feeling of community, in which ely gastro bar seems to sit comfortably among.
We left the Sunday evening revellers where we found them and figured they’d be all right, assuming that ely was their neighbourhood hangout spot and they didn’t have far to go to get home unlike ourselves. We’ll be back for a double serving of fish and chips some other summery day.

ely gastro bar
Grand Canal Square
Dublin 2
Ph: 01-6339986


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