Ely Gastro Pub Hanover Quay- HQ Restaurant and Wine Bar.
Hanover Quay, Docklands, Dublin 2.
Ely HQ restaurant is seriously impressive, from the contemporary design to an exciting menu that's heavy on fish. The quality of the wine list is no less than you can expect from Eric and Michelle of Ely Wine Bar fame. Overlooking Grand Canal Basin, even on a February night, Gerard Carthy thought he could be in a genuinely cool city.
The ground floor glass fronted space of Ely Gastro Pub features walnut floors, lime green leather banquette seating and plasma screens disguised behind curved panels. There is a centre piece bar surrounded by burgundy leather bar stools. On this night however I made my way downstairs with better (looking) half Deirdre Walsh for a quiet dinner a deux. The downstairs is a revelation. A pink glass enclosed dining area opening on two sides with a cool back lit champagne bar completing this sexy space. The chairs are comfortable and staff efficient as they offer us menus and bring water and some breads.
The menu is based on Ely's popular signature dishes, with a strong emphasis on fish dishes, representing the style of the head chef, Thomas Doyle, who joins HQ from Cavistons of Monkstown. All pork, beef and lamb are sourced as usual in Ely through the Robson family organic farm in the Burren, Co. Clare.
Starters are mostly clustered around the 10 mark and included steamed mussels in fennel Pernod, Salad Nicoise, seared Foie Gras Escalope and Duck Ravioli. I liked the sound of the duck, and Deirdre was going for the salad before deciding on the mussels. The main courses continued to excite and offerings included Barbequed Tuna with Herb Polenta, Wild Sea Bass with Fennel Puree, Spiced Monkfish and Seared King Scallops. There were also some meat choices, a sirloin steak, braised veal cheek and an interesting filo baked pork fillet. In the end we decided on the Scallops for Deirdre, while I fancied the Monkfish. I know the Ely wines quiet well, and chose a favourite Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc at a reasonable 45.00.
The wine list is very extensive and as usual for Ely there is a huge range of wines by the glass, as well as loads of interesting choices from across the globe.
While we awaited our mains I spotted a couple of friends arriving and were seated at a nearby table, so we headed over to say hello, and after nattering for a few moments and promising to hook up after dinner, our starters are arrived. My duck ravioli was large and sat on spinach in a froth of parmesan cream, cooked al dente, soft tasty meat and the froth - superb. Any left over gots mopped up with the remaining bread. Deirdre's starter was a large plate of mussels in a cream and fennel sauce delicately flavoured with Pernod. I had to help her mop up some of the broth, and a very nice take of this favourite it was. As we were both very happy with the starters we were awaiting the main course with high hopes. My Spiced Monkfish arrived on top of risotto with spiced red wine sauce. Lovely presentation and again a different and successful take on the monkfish. Deirdre fared less well with the scallops, they being slightly undercooked, that off-putting translucence not to be desired in shellfish. They were promptly returned in more perfect condition atop a mixed white bean and vanilla broth, which we both thought was oversalted. A side order of mixed green beans completed the main courses. Deirdre's scallop-gate notwithstanding, this was so far a very good meal with a very fine wine. Desserts looked interesting so we took a break and had about 15 out. Deirdre then had the Espresso Coffee Creme Brulee while I had Stewed Peaches with Mascarpone and Mint that I am not even going to try to describe, suffice to say I liked it a lot.
We finished and lingered over two good coffees each before going over to join our friends Barry and Grainne for a few more glasses of wine and a chat, the relevant bit for this review being the fact that they had also enjoyed it. A few years ago when writing about the original Ely Wine bar I described Eric and Michelle as pioneers of the quality wine bar when they originally opened up. The word mad may have been bandied around. No matter, this new restaurant is another new departure. I loved it, it's a destination - important when it is off centre in Docklands, but it has the chutzpah both in design and character to carry it off.