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Eleven review: Wood-fired grills and a rocking vibe from the man behind 777

In an unlikely outpost on the N11 John Farrell has married his formula of cocktails and smart service with a focus on wood-burned grills

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Address: Bray Road, Loughlinstown, Dublin 18
Telephone: N/A
Cuisine: Modern International
Cost: €€€

Which one of these would you order, if any: devil fish, wolf eel, sea wolf, sea cat, ocean catfish, Atlantic catfish, woof fish, Scotch halibut, or Scarborough woof? They are all names for the one fish (you probably guessed that bit), an elusive deep-sea dweller that feasts on lobsters, crabs, sea urchins, starfish, prawns and shellfish.

Fang-like teeth in gaping jaws are required for its crustacean diet, so if it ever makes it to the wet counter, it’s as a fillet, minus its scary looking head. In Eleven, the newly opened restaurant in Loughinstown, over Whelehans Wines, it lands on the menu as Nordic wolffish.

It is by-catch, restaurant owner John Farrell explains to me later, looking appositely fish-out-of-water himself in the South County Dublin ‘burbs on the N11 (hence the name). He’s the restaurateur behind 777, Amy Austin, Dillinger’s and The Butcher Grill, as well as the former owner of Luna. This feels like an unlikely venture for him, yet a full room indicates that, yet again, he has a good nose for business.

Being quite the lateral thinker, he has extrapolated the Eleven association to Apollo 11, so a few stars, rockets and spaceships are spotted around the new place. But mostly it is about a signature zinc topped bar – cocktails are always a part of Farrell’s arsenal – brooding oxblood walls, low lighting, dark tables and kilim rugs.


There’s louche R&B music from an excellent live singer, Niall Lawlor, dialled up to, err, 11, and soul sounds blast out of the speaker above my head between sets. About half the room appears to appreciate this vibe, the cool women at the bar are clearly moved by it, but I’m not sure all the diners knew that they were signing up for concert-level music volume.

There are six starters and seven main courses, 10 if you count the sharing options, and the wood-burning grill influences the main courses to a noticeable extent. The wine list has a few options below €40, including Beira Aral Rula Albariño (€38) which is a suitably crisp wine pairing for the fish dishes we order.

Four gold seared scallops (€17), arrive in a foamy prawn bisque sauce with a few dabs of rouille. It’s spiked with saffron, just the right amount and a quiet kick of heat. Fine filigrees of toasted sourdough are a nice textural element, but have little to contribute in the mopping up challenge, because this certainly is a sauce that you’ll want to finish.

Hamachi (€16), a fish that is also the proud owner of a few names – Japanese amberjack, yellowtail and buri – is served ceviche style. It has a freshness, as if it has just been introduced to its marinade a short while ago, with an orange crumb granita, chips of ginger and red chilli and tapioca pearls. It eats nicely, a clean, refreshing dish.

For the main course, it’s my first taste of Nordic wolffish (€30), two fine chunks of it, bathed in beurre blanc. It has a nice texture, a large flake which keeps the fish moist and is mildly flavoured. It’s not going to win the top prize in the plenty more fish in the sea stakes, but it goes well with the sauce and the sizeable side of skinny chips (€6).

I am expecting great things of the Argentinian jumbo prawns (€27), which have been cooked on the wood-fired grill, but somehow they’re just a bit tough. I’m not sure if it’s the prawns or too much time on the grill, I think maybe the former. A bit of rouille would work well on the plate.

A choice of one side dish is included with the “wood-burning grill” menu items. We opt for the watercress and apple salad, which is small but fresh and tasty.

Dessert for now is limited to one choice, creme caramel (€9), which comes with plump Sauternes soaked raisins. It’s creamy, bathed in caramel which could have been pushed a tad further to get a slight hint of bitterness.

If you’re skipping dessert, there’s cheese, or indeed, dessert cocktails.

Service at Eleven is very smart, led by Sam Harding, who will be a familiar face from Luna and restaurants around town. There’s a note on the card that comes with the bill which says: “Tip the team with cash or scan QR code to use card. All tips go directly to team members.” This is good to see, given recent controversy over service charge practices.

Dinner for two with a bottle of wine was €143.

The Verdict: A wood-fired oven and music dialled up to 11.

Music: Live R&B with some James Brown and similar interludes.

Food provenance: Kish Fish, John Stone, Caterway, La Rousse and Artisan. Pork is free range, chicken is not.

Vegetarian options: White asparagus starter with poached egg dressing; heirloom tomato with burrata, peach and fennel; and pappardelle with wild mushroom. Vegan dishes can be adapted on request.

Wheelchair access: No accessible room or toilet.

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly restaurant column