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The Seafood Bar review: A smart new tapas restaurant where fish is the star

This feels like a tapas bar on Madrid’s Gran Via but it is in the city centre

The Seafood Bar
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Address: 1 Blessington St, Dublin, D07 PR60
Telephone: N/A
Cuisine: Spanish
Cost: €€€

At a stretch, you could imagine that you’re on Madrid’s Gran Via. Certainly, there’s the urban energy from the incessant traffic on Dorset Street but it’s more about the smart little restaurant that sits on the corner with Blessington Street. Four outside tables under Moretti umbrellas offer a full view into a tiny room reminiscent of the tapas bars you’ll find in Spain’s capital. Without the guarantee of Iberian weather, however, you will probably be more interested in one of the five tables for two inside.

Lobster and shellfish are in a glass display unit on top of a shimmering ocean-blue tiled counter. Wine glasses hang down from a high wooden shelf which is lined with wine bottles. Through this gap, two chefs are visible in the open kitchen, assiduously tending to the plancha. To the side, and in full view of diners sitting opposite, a kitchen porter, the hardest working man in the kitchen, directs the flow from the hose of a scalding hot tap, working his way through a stack of frying pans.

A small plate of home-made crisps lands on our table, followed by the menu. The crisps are mind-blowingly wonderful, rough cut and flavoured with jamon. They should be selling them by the bucketload but they’re not even listed on the menu, which judiciously reflects the name of this new operation, The Seafood Bar. So, no surprises that it is all fish. A stark contrast to the vegan restaurant, Vish, that previously traded from the same spot.

Crab on toast is not what I expected

It is a menu that will induce heart palpitations in seafood lovers – Kelly’s and Flaggy Shore oysters, prawns in garlic, deep-fried calamari, langoustines a la plancha, scallops, crab and lobster. The lobster is an obvious order at €34 for a whole one with chips but, first, a few snacky bits. I’ve spotted padron peppers on the sides menu (€5) so they’re a bit of a no-brainer, and arrive hot and seared as we tuck into a bottle of Jurtschitsch (€38), an Austrian Grüner Veltliner. It’s in an ice bucket but is drinking at room temperature so an impious cube of ice is required to bring it to a refreshing temperature. Surprisingly, only three of the bottles on the wine list are Spanish but with eight bottles under €40, it is certainly trying to appeal at the more affordable end of things.


Deep-fried calamari and Irish native shrimps (€18) come with tartare sauce and a wedge of lemon. The squid, for some reason, is unbelievably tough and rubbery but the little prawns are tasty, deep-fried in their shell. We figure that you eat everything except the head as the shells don’t easily peel off. A few octopus tentacles and a larger prawn are included in the mix, all very good, with the exception of the calamari.

Crab on toast (€14) is not what I expected. The crab is a light saffron colour, which I soon discover is some curry seasoning worked through with a few other aromatics. It is fine but a mention on the menu would be good; it masks the flavour of the crab somewhat.

For main course, the lobster arrives cleaved in half and sitting on top of a large portion of chips. The claws have already been cracked so removing the meat from them is straightforward. It has been finished on the grill and doused in garlic butter which drips pleasingly down on to the chips. It is, however, grossly overcooked, the claws in particular. A disappointment.

The seafood linguine (€14), on the other hand, is very good, although a reappearance of the rubbery calamari detracts from the nicely cooked array of clams, mussels and fish. The pasta is perfectly al dente and the seafood sauce has a good intensity, a bit of chilli gives it a kick, and there’s a splash of acidity to balance it.

The crema Catalana is off so we finish with a generous portion of tiramisu (€7), which is light and tasty.

Joe Oualadi, who also owns Wood Fire Cafe a few doors down, has created a charming little space. The atmosphere is notably good, as is the service from our Salvadoran waitress. It’s a menu that would suit grazing on a small plates basis as much as a three-course approach and the pricing is very keen. With a few tweaks to the dishes – particularly the calamari and lobster – this will be a very smart seafood restaurant. Bookings via Instagram.

Dinner for two with a bottle of wine was €156.20, which includes 10 per cent service charge.

Music: Antônio Carlos Jobim, Afro Cuban Allstars and Spanish sounds

Food provenance: Sustainable Seafood, Glenmar Seafood, vegetables from Vernon’s, bread from Italecatessen

Vegetarian options: Limited to a side of padron peppers. Vegetarian and vegan options are planned

Wheelchair access: No accessible room or toilet

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

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