Go Fork Yourself: Bite, South Frederick Street
Pros:Brilliant service and busy atmos, tasty twist on a classic.
Cons:Nightmare to get a table, always crazy busy. Bigger pots of sauce would make me smile.
Fantastic fish and bangin’ cocktails in the most happening joint this side of Rick’s Café. If there’s one fault we have with Bite, it’s that it’s just not saucy enough. Oo-er.
The hipster eatery scene really has exploded in Dublin in recent times. Your Crackbirds, your 777s, whathaveyou… all restaurants dedicated to putting a new age twist on retro fun. Bite brands itself from the off as ‘hip, not hipster’. Its unpretentiousness and openness is a fresh approach on the Dublin restaurant scene. Sometimes, when crossing the threshold of a newer dining establishment, you feel like you’re missing some in-joke. Bite markets itself as being above that – more upmarket, more open.
The vibe is sophisticated, the atmosphere airy and bright. The walls are painted white and adorned with fish-related paraphanelia. There’s a lot of shrubbery, too. The restaurant is a veritable Minotaur’s maze, though. The entry dining room follows through to a pseudo-kitchen and on to an outdoor patio area (perfect for sunny days, when we have them!), then back inside to a secondary dining room over the far side. There’s also rumour of a basement room for functions and parties and the like.
Waiting for service at our table, we’re greeted with a bowl of chilli popcorn in lieu of the conventional bread and butter. Nice. I do like my spice. Our waiter for the evening is attentive, friendly and very welcoming. He makes several recommendations and highlights his personal favourites to help us with our choices. There’s also a waitress, with a dragon tattoo no less, who makes sure our glasses and popcorn bowl floweth over; it really is exceptional service.
The menu consists largely of Catch Of The Day including, on this visit, haddock, lemon sole and sea trout. I opt for the first fish option, beer-battered and fried in vodka with a side of Truffle and Parmesan fries, also known as VVIP fries.
The fish (haddock pictured) arrives in a very functional cardboard tray with our chosen selection of sauces: grain mustard and dill, aioli, and bitter lemon. The mustard and dill and aioli sauces are tops but the bitter lemon doesn’t do much for me. If Bite has room for improvement anywhere, it’s in the size of the sauce servings; I would have loved more of their sauces – they’re delicious – but they’re delivered in tiny glass pots. The aioli proves the perfect fish accompaniment, despite tartare’s traditional role. The fish itself is very fresh and is quite the large portion. The VVIP fries, named after founding restauranteur Anthony Remedy’s yearly Dublin Academy Awards Show, are giant wedges of potato covered in truffle oil and topped with sprinkles of parmesan cheese. Unreal. My compadrés dine on the lemon sole and while they stand firmly by the tastiness of their dishes, they fork continually at my plate with obvious envy.
We wash down the main with delicious Stephen’s Green (Kiwi, Vanilla Vodka, Apple Juice) and Cape Cod (Grapefruit, Cranberry, Vodka) cocktails and even manage to fit in dessert – popping candy ice cream, my dining company’s choice, is a real treat. Whoever thought to combine these two childhood, tooth-rotting foodstuffs together should be shook firmly by the hand. My dessert choice is the Rhubarb and Ginger Nut Panna Cotta (pictured below) which proves sublime. Could eat it twice over, in fact. The dessert menu only boasts three options, but it’s still early days for Bite. It’d be nice if the desserts changed on a regular basis, like their mains.
Bite has only been open for two months and even in its brief lifespan it’s notoriously difficult to get a reservation. Don’t expect a chilled, quiet atmos, but it’s definitely THE place to be. The service goes above and beyond reasonable expectations, to the point where as we are leaving my own mother goes in for a cuddle with the very knowledgeable waiter who’d helped us from the off. Chances are you’ll spot a Fade Streeter or Dublin Housewife or two milling about. Still in its infancy, here’s to much long-lived success to Dublin’s poshest fish shop.
They’re on the twitter machine if you fancy a chat: @BITEdublin