Bagots Hutton began as a wine bar on Dublin’s South William Street, with an extraordinary wine list to mull over, cheese and meat boards to nibble on and dark, hidden caves in which to gorge on both. The South William Street branch closed last year, but Bagots Hutton came back, this time on the northside of the city overlooking Ormond Quay. A larger premises has allowed for a bar and live music venue towards the back, along with a café bar at the entrance and a more formal dining area in the basement.
Squishing into a small table between two others by the window caused quite the kerfuffle. The tables were close enough for me to overhear the grumblings from the ladies beside me about the service, which didn’t inspire much confidence for the evening ahead. A complementary glass of wine seemed to pacify matters somewhat, but many a raised hand went ignored.
The menu was short but promising. Having spotted a nice-looking pizza on the neighbouring table that was nowhere to be found on the menu, we decided to do some further investigation. A rather baffling conversation with our server ensued. Initially, we were told they had no pizza. “Oh, okay. So what is that the lady beside me is eating?” I enquired curiously. “That’s a pizza,” our server replied, in all seriousness. “Right, and where would that be on the menu?” “That’s on our neighbourhood menu.” Aha. “And what’s the neighbourhood menu?” we pursued. “That’s only available until 7pm.” Fair enough – it was now after 8pm – mystery solved.
A few minutes later, the manager returned to take our order. “Shall you be ordering off the set menu?” he enquired. Blank looks. What set menu? “Oh, did no one tell you?” No, they did not – apparently our last line of questioning wasn’t thorough enough. Anyhoo, as it turns out the set menu offers any starter and main with two glasses of wine for €35 per person, which seems like excellent value given the calibre and choice of wines by the glass. It’s a shame the staff weren’t inclined to share this information.
Orders placed; the starters arrived. My companion had ordered the black olive tapenade with Irish mozzarella, smoked scamorza and toast (€8). Alas, no toast came. When this omission was pointed out, the response we got was a polite but, again, rather puzzling, “I can get you toast if you want toast”. I don’t think she was quite getting the point.
Meanwhile, I was delving into my pretty tuna starter when the manager returned to inform me that the lamb I had ordered for my main course wasn’t available anymore. “Did no one tell you that?” He enquired. Funnily enough, they hadn’t. Menu in hand, he recommended the rib-eye or sea bass instead. I didn’t recall seeing any sea bass on the menu. “Yes, right here”, he said, pointing to the carrot risotto. More baffled looks. “Sorry, but is there sea bass in the carrot risotto?” I asked. Finally, he realised his mistake and replied, “Apologies, I was thinking of a different menu.” Rib-eye it is so.
All manner of confusion aside, there is plenty to like about this reincarnation. The décor is smart, the atmosphere buzzy and both the food and the wine extremely appealing. All the ingredients were super fresh, from the juicy cherry tomatoes of the olive tapenade starter (€8) to the mixture of both soft and hard cheeses (the toast really elevated the dish by the way). The presentation and quality of the tuna crudo (€12), served at just the right temperature with a yellow tomato emulsion, dehydrated olives and fresh courgettes, was wonderfully delicate.
Spaghetti vongole (€19) is one of those dishes that can be so hit and miss, depending on the quality of the clams. In this case, they were just as plump as more of those lovely cherry tomatoes they came with and worth the effort. I got over the disappointment of the missing lamb dish quickly enough once presented with a flavourful rib-eye steak (€25), accompanied by some crunchy fennel, tangy chimmichurri and a side of flatbreads. This was a welcome change from the usual trimmings, and I was grateful the horseradish element was dialled down to subtle.
We ended the meal on a refreshingly light note, finishing off with fresh orange segments drizzled with a rosemary infused honey and Prosecco and elderberry emulsion.
Both the food and wine were almost faultless and the menus, however many there are of them, well thought-out. The live jazz music could be a real draw, but the staff gave the impression of somewhere still finding its feet several months after re-opening. A bit more staff training, and this could be quite the place.
We loved the choice of wine by the glass, the quality of the food and the live music
We spent €80 on two starters, two mains, one dessert, four glasses of wine and a coffee
6 Ormond Quay Upper Ormond Quay Upper, Dublin 7. Tel: +353 (0)1 878 8118; www.bagotshutton.com
Open: Mon – Tues 8am – 11pm; Wedn – Thurs 8am – 11.30pm; Fri 8am – 1.30am; Sat 12pm – 1.30am; Sun 12pm – 6pm