Dublin's Best Gastropub?

It's a drizzly summer evening as me and +1 rock up to Bath Avenue. Billy Elliot at the Grand Canal Theatre hadn't been all that, so we'd slid out at the interval, slightly shell-shocked by the SINGING. Turns out we're not musical people.

At The Old Spot, thankfully, a relaxed cosiness seemed to be the only thing turned up to 11.

We had a pint in the comfy bar before Dublin front-of-house reliable, Conor Kavanagh, brought us to a lovely, snug table down at the back of the dining room. The restaurant is clubby, dark, but in a cosseting, rather than dreary, way.

Our waiter, a friendly Floridian woman, was perfectly knowledgeable, attentive, yet never overbearing - a fine exemplar of the best of North American service professionalism - and a pretty cool lady to boot.

The menu was short and although there were a number of interesting specials available, we stuck mostly to the carte. To start, a shared 1/2 dozen rock oysters. Plump, firm with a fresh, briny tang, these Waterford beauties were all that fresh Irish oysters can be.

To drink, +1 requested 'something very hoppy.? The Bru R? Irish Craft IPA we got was very nice, though the hops played more of a subtle supporting role to the scene-stealing of the floral/chocolate centre stage.

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For mains, the curious ?gnudi? caught +1's eye - a gnocchi-style dumpling made with ricotta rather than spud, which makes for a lighter bellyful. The basil-green gnudi came with a medley of fresh greens, dressed in fresh mint and rich shavings of aged Parmesan and delicate summer truffle (?18). It impressed in spades. On Conor's recommendation, I went for the free range pork. Why there aren't more restaurants executing pork like this, I don't know - there's more to manly meat dishes than beef, lads - the Flintstone-sized ?chop? was absolutely cracking, accompanied by a harmonious smattering of warm earthy beets, crisp fondant potato, sweet Irish cherries and a spiky mustard jus (?24).

As puritanical followers of the Most Holy Church of the Round White Dinner Plate, our one niggle was with the heretical crockery: black, textured, triangular, rectangular, wool ... I may have made up the last one up ... all had a role, but it was very much a First World problem, so we soon got over ourselves.

Background music was perfectly-pitched, at a civilised volume and at no point did the staff break into a hysterical song and dance routine, which was a relief.

We skipped dessert but we're told the pavlova is legendary. The bill came to €67.20, a little pricey for a mid-week dinner perhaps, but we certainly felt value for money was had - and we'll definitely go again.

The Old Spot,
Bath Avenue,
Dublin 4,
01 660-5599
theoldspot.ie

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