Review: Etto, Merrion Row, Dublin 2

Review: Etto, Merrion Row, Dublin 2


We’ve decided to head to the big smoke for the day. After the best part of a week lazing about and stuffing ourselves with all sorts of goodies, the time has come for even just the tiniest bit of exercise. Initially the plan is to walk to the train station in Newbridge, get the train, followed by the Luas  and walk around Dublin for the day doing a little shopping along the way. My lazy streak soon hits though and instead I decide to drive. I’m too lazy to leave the car at the Red Cow even, I drive all the way into the city and park in Trinity Street, I’ve hit a new low. After visiting a couple of shops, some open and some closed, the inevitable happens – I’m hungry. I know exactly where I want to go, Etto, and proceed to tell Ali that it’s “just around the corner,” in full knowledge that O’Connell Street to Merrion Row is a good walk at the best of times.

We eventually arrive at Etto, a cosy wine bar/restaurant not far from St. Stephens’ Green. We are greeted at the door by a friendly gentleman who takes our coats and invites us to sit at a two seater on the right hand side. The tables are quite close together here, something that I find difficult even with a group of not exceptionally loud folk beside us – I find it difficult to hear what Ali is saying although I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing! There are two menus available to us – the a la carte and a two/three course lunch menu. Although the a la carte menu is good value, the set menu is an exceptional deal. I decide on two courses for €24 – as usual I order a starter and a main which always leaves the option of dessert open.

Dish of the Year

My starter of Mussels, Samphire, Nduja and Leek is quick out of the kitchen and emits the most beautiful aroma. It tastes every bit as good as it smells and looks. The mussels are tender and fresh while the samphire, nduja and leeks combine to give a wonderful balance of salt, hot and sweet with the cream sauce bringing everything together. It is my favourite dish of 2017 and I can say that with great confidence having eaten it on December 29th.

My main course, Braised Shortrib, Cavolo Nero, Pickled Walnuts and Polenta is another success. The shortrib is meltingly tender while the crisp cavolo nero and fried polenta provide the contrasting texture required. Everything is perfectly seasoned and I enjoy every last morsel. It’s rare to get two courses of such outstanding quality and although I skip dessert as I am well and truly stuffed, I have high hopes for the espresso. It’s perfect. Smooth and strong with just a hint of bitterness – the perfect end to a perfect meal.

Putting aside the closeness of the neighbors, I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch at Etto. The food is top class, the service is fast, efficient and exceptionally friendly while it also offers great value for money. I look forward to enjoying an evening meal here with wine but for now, it’s very highly recommended.

Food: 9.5
Service: 9
Ambiance: 8
Value: 8.5

Very Highly Recommended

18 Merrion Row,
Dublin 2
01 678 8872

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