What do you want in a space when you're out with the girls? Great food, even better cocktails, room to have a natter and the most important bit: clean toilets.
It's no secret that we want more from our bars in 2020. Gone are the days (thankfully) where people queue for an hour in their 5-inch heels to get into a cramped nightclub, only to fight for a drink at the bar, and for the venue to close as soon as you muster up the courage to hit the dancefloor.
Granted, a lot of that comes with age. My evenings out are full up with tasteful 30th birthday celebrations these days rather than raucous nights of debauchery.
But, studies also show that millennials are valuing experience over anything else when it comes to parting with their hard-earned cash and their precious time. A 2019 report from Eventbrite showed that 72% of millennials prefer to spend their money on real-life events, like going for dinner, or attending the theatre, over buying material possessions like clothes and cars.
With that knowledge, one Dublin city centre venue that has ticked all of the above boxes is Crow Street in Temple Bar.
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Situated on – you guessed it – Crow Street in Temple Bar, the restaurant is ideal for anyone visiting our capital city. It's a stone's throw from major tourist attractions like Dublin Castle, Trinity College, Stephen's Green and Christ Church Cathedral. For locals, it's also very handily located just off Dame Street right in the centre of Dublin city centre action. And it's easily accessible too at bus routes, Luas stops and Dart stations.
The New York-style eatery caters for large groups – perfect for girls' nights out – and also welcomes walk-ins and couples. Diners are spoilt for choice with a feast of quality American dishes, using locally sourced produce, across a vast brunch and dinner menu.
Brunch is served on weekends from 11am. You can choose from a delicious Burrata on sourdough toast, with heirloom tomato, avocado, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, Kalamata black olives and pesto, or the mouth-watering crab cakes with wilted spinach, roast red pepper and tomato salsa, or the classic eggs benedict with choices of sausage, bacon, pudding, home fries, hash browns, toast, onion rings or mushrooms for sides.
Veggies are catered for too, with a full breakfast of tomato, mushrooms, hash brown, spinach, onion marmalade, bbq beans, choice of eggs and toast. Or you can go vegan with the chai seed pancakes, strawberry, banana, peanut butter and maple syrup. For the full brunch menu, see here.
Dinner is where Crow Street really shines, with a number of exquisite dishes across a pre-theatre and à la carte menu Wednesday to Sunday to tantalise the tastebuds.
For just €24.95 for three courses on the pre-theatre menu, diners can enjoy starters of a delectable salmon sashimi with fresh avocado, wasabi, pickled ginger, black sesame seeds and a gorgeous yuzu dressing, or buffalo mozzarella with roast beets, poached plum, honey and balsamic reduction and crushed pistachios, or a hearty roast butternut squash with green apple harissa and pecan dukkah.
Mains on the pre-theatre menu include roast hake fillet, saffron potato, Jerusalem artichoke, smoked pancetta, spinach, oyster mushrooms and clams, or crispy pork belly, puy lentils, chorizo, cherry tomato, apple and raisin, or maple and bourbon glazed short rib of beef, water cress salad, hand cut chips, or a veggie option of bulgar stuffed aubergine, pomegranate, cashew, roast red pepper and mint hummus.
For dessert, you can enjoy espresso martini chocolate Tiramisu, or lemon posset with blackberries, meringue and shortbread, or a selection of ice creams. And portion sizes are very generous if your group of gals is the sharing kind. For the full pre-theatre menu, see here.
The à la carte menu is equally impressive, with starters of spiced crispy calamari, watercress, pickled kohlrabi, lemon, pink ginger and chilli remoulade, or spicy chicken wings, Cashel blue cheese dip and celery. For mains, choose between lemon and thyme half roast free range chicken, roast butternut squash, red onion and pine nuts, crispy lamb shoulder, baby potatoes, peas, broad beans, sweet pepper, tomato and mint relish, or squid ink linguine, prawns, mussels and fresh Irish crab, asparagus, chilli, garlic, lemon and parsley.
Baked New York cheesecake with hazelnut praline, sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, and an Irish Farmhouse cheeseboard with fig and apple chutney and crackers are all on the dessert menu. For the full à la carte menu see here.
Known for its Signature Cocktails menu, Crow Street's mixologists are some of the best in Dublin. From 'The Crow', made up of vanilla vodka, house-made coffee liqueur, vanilla syrup, fresh espresso and white chocolate mousse, to the 'Crow Street Tonic', made up of house gin, rhubarb, liqueur, elderflower liqueur, fresh ruby grapefruit, fresh coriander and tonic water, Crow Street's cocktails are not only terrifically tasty, they pack a punch too.
There is also a Classic Cocktails menu, featuring old favourites like Old Fashioned and Classic Martini. And speaking from experience, the bar staff are only more than happy to rustle up something off-menu if you have a favourite cocktail in mind.
There is also a full wine and beer list available.
And if you have a special family gathering, you can book the cocktail bar for a private function. The ground floor restaurant can seat 70 people with set menus available, and a private dining room seats 24 guests. For more information, see here.
Atmosphere and service
Exposed brick work and muted tones give this New York-style eatery a real edge when it comes to decor. The main restaurant (ground floor) is comfortable and spacious enough for large groups to share dishes.
The cocktail bar upstairs has an intimate feel with a mix of leather sofas and comfy stools. This versatile space is used for a variety of events such as luxe media launches, live podcast recordings, engagement and birthday parties.
Staff cater to large groups with ease – there was no waiting around while the top of the room were served their starters first, and dietary requirements were catered for without a glitch. Bar and waiting staff are well briefed in specials and every dish and drink on the menu. The ambience is buzzy without feeling like you're in a nightclub in the early noughties.
And arguably the most important part of any venue when you're on a girls' night, is the restrooms. Crow Street has designed a beautiful open space where there are enough cubicles and sinks and mirrors to cater for large crowds. Impeccably clean and well-stocked, the toilet sitch gets 10/10.
For more information on Crow Street, or to plan your girls' night out, click here.