The Winding Stair

Where: 40 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1

If you live in Dublin, you’ve probably walked past this restaurant a hundred times without going in, I did – thinking it was a tourist trap on the Liffey. However, I ended up booking The Winding Stair, out of desperation I admit, when I was searching for a place to accommodate a table of 6 for my graduation, with several of my first choices being fully booked. Nonetheless, The Winding Stair ended up being a good last minute choice.

Firstly, I loved the setting; climbing the old, narrow stairs is part of the charm. Once you reach the first floor you’ll enter the small but bustling dining room, dimly lit with an impressive open kitchen, paying homage to its’ roots with a couple of book shelves decorating the room, views from the windows overlooking the Liffey and ha’penny bridge.

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Upon reading the menu, the first thing you’ll notice is the fantastic choice, but also the provenance. Every dish is assiduously sourced in Ireland, these wholesome Irish ingredients being the star of the show. The smoked fish board (‘Burren smokery, Terry Butterly and Stephen Kavanagh’s smoked fish plate with our Dillisk bread, crème fraîche, pickled cucumbers and caper-berries’ clearly a dish with the most carefully sourced produce in a menu already peppered with artisan producer’s names) for my starter was an easy pick. This was the most expensive starter, but well worth the price.

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This was a very substantial dish and should definitely be shared between two – I learned the hard way or else eaten as a stand alone dish for brunch. After first sampling the smoked mackerel it had me planning my return visit. The 2 variations of smoked salmon were delicious, the smoked oyster pate went beautifully with the pickled cucumber and capers on their brown bread. The queen scallops were akin to crack of the fish variety.

Unfortunately I was sickeningly full by the time my main of ‘Steamed cockles and Roaring Bay mussels with Clogherhead crab, brown shrimp mayo toast and chips’ arrived. This dish was pretty disappointing, I was presented with a large portion of mussels and cockles, but the mussels were minuscule, the crab and/or flavor of crab was non-existant in the broth. The broth was pretty bland overall, which was unfortunate as the waiter kept harping on about how great the dish was and how “it’s been on the menu now for 9 years and hasn’t been taken off because people love it so much”, well, I wasn’t one of those people, calm down. As for the brown shrimp mayo toast, it was delicious and far more flavoursome than the shellfish and accompanying broth itself.

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The most ordered dish of the group was the ‘Chargrilled 28 day dry-age Irish beef striploin steak with sticky onions, roasted garlic truffle butter and homemade chips’, which I managed to sample. The chunky homemade chips are twice cooked and exactly how you’d want your chips to be, the truffle butter atop the steak was addictive. I heard no complaints from the table.

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This is definitely a charming little restaurant with a menu curated with so much love and attention to detail, showcasing the best of Irish produce. I would highly recommend going to brunch to order the smoked fish board alone – this was definitely the highlight of the meal for me.

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