Food and wine writer Aoife Carrigy heads back to the Dublin suburb of Terenure to revisit an old favourite.
Recently, I was charmed by the neighbourhood’s new owner-operated Circa, which is the passion project of four friends with years of collective hospitality experience.
On a sunny bank holiday Saturday, I went back to an old favourite of mine just down the road. A leading light of the new breed of wineshop-cum-winebar, Green Man Wines was opened in 2014 by David Gallagher with his wife Claire O’Boyle Gallagher, and they too bring a wealth of professional experience and great personal passion to their project.
The wine side has always been the primary focus – David managed Berry Brothers and Rudd, and set up and ran Fallon & Bryne’s wine cellar, in previous lives; while Claire works for Le Caveau, one of Ireland’s finest wine importers – and they nailed that element immediately. Besides lining two walls with wines to suit traditionalists and adventurers alike, and pockets of various cuts, the strength of Green Man Wines has been a generous approach to sharing their deep knowledge and love for all things vinous by way of fascinating producer tastings and imaginative wine dinners.
A diverse menu
The regular food side of things proved more of a work in progress. Reports were positive before their original chef moved on and they struggled to replace him. For a while they were restricted to charcuterie and cheese platters and – in one memorable meal – delicious potatoes and whole morcilla and chorizo baked on a small barbecue. As perfect as that resourceful meal was, Green Man’s wine selection deserves a more diverse food offer.
So I was delighted to hear that – after a false start with chef Keith Coleman (formerly of The Fumbally and Fia) – their original chef had returned to offer a full menu.
On my own recent return for a 6pm table, the scene was like an ad for suburban living. Several young couples were soaking up the rays out front, glass in hand and grazing on snacks from the extensive ‘nibbles’ section of the menu. Down the back of the shop, in the wine-bar proper, an older demographic of customers were settling into comfortable banquettes.
Given a choice of tables, we went for the in-between space of the wine-shop proper, partly because the back looked a little dark on this sunny evening (though perhaps it would look cosy on a different day) but mostly because I love sitting in amongst all those bottles and letting the conversation follow our wandering eyes throughout the meal.
Nibbles to start
We grabbed some of those nibbles to start: some corn snacks just to try them (crispy salted kernels, think peanuts without the guilt, €4); a pretty plate of roast celeriac carpaccio doused in good olive oil and scattered with fresh tarragon (€5); and another of coppa (€6.50), aka slivers of cured pork shoulder, with homemade pickles that turned out to be cauliflower stalk pickled in quality vinegar with fragrant aromatics. Genius. I would have preferred the carpaccio at room temperature rather than fridge cold, to better express those sweet rootsy flavours, but I loved seeing these humble veg treated with imaginative flair.
May is Real Wine Month, so much of their wine by the glass is either organic or biodynamic and/or produced with minimal intervention, the latter being longhand for the problematic shorthand of ‘natural wine’. We savoured a glass of the surprisingly floral ‘La Maldicion’ orange wine (think white wine produced like a red wine) from Marc Isart near Madrid (€7), and the biodynamic Chaume-Arnaud Vinsobres 2015 from Rhone, a velvety Grenache-led layering of bright violet and dark liquorice notes (€8).
The main events
Mains centred around two very different plates: a rainbow feast of heritage carrots, roasted in long wedges and scattered with mild creamy goats cheese (€9); and a hunk of free-range Irish pork T-bone sourced from the local village butcher, slathered with a piquant, oregano-heavy chimichurri (€16.50). Both were spot on in their own right, ably supported by moreish parsnip fries (€4.50), which I’d order again in a flash. Superb gambas pil pil from the nibbles section were sweet and juicy and swimming in an earthy, paprika-heavy oil (€15). With these we opted for two more organic wines: the vibrant Craven Cinsault from South Africa’s Stellenbosch (€9) and the nimble and cheeky Lapierre ‘Raisins Gaulois’ Beaujolais (€7), from one of several early-adaptors to the natural wine movement who helped rebuild the reputation of this much-abused appellation.
We wrapped things up with an excellent chocolate and orange mousse with a superfluous mango coulis (€6), and manchego and honey (€7) that we deemed more wine-bar soakage than post-meal cheese, in that we would have preferred a smaller portion of better quality manchego. It was impossible to pass by the Taylors 20-year-old tawny port (€9.50), which delivered all the gorgeous candied fruit, walnut and spice you’d expect, while a glass of Justinos Madeira (€5.50) reminded me what fine value fortified wine can offer.
This meal was a joy. No matter that the service sometimes lost focus, especially around the 8pm influx; the confident wine knowledge, warm hospitality, disarming atmosphere and assured delivery of a well-judged menu came together into a perfect pairing. Like I said, lucky Terenure.
The bottom line
Our three-course meal came to €119 before service, including a wine pairing with each course.
Green Man Wines, 3 Terenure Road North, Terenure, Dublin 6W
Author: Aoife Carrigy
Aoife’s first proper work experience (if you don’t count a formative stint as the milkman’s assistant) was a TY placement as commis chef in The Wishbone in Glasthule, where she caught the restaurant bug. From her teens and through her 20s she worked front-of-house in restaurants around Dublin and beyond, before a freelance gig as restaurant columnist for the Dublin Event Guide and then Totally Dublin turned into a five-year full-time editorial stint in FOOD&WINE Magazine. She has been freelance since 2010 and keeps herself busy co-writing and editing cookbooks as well as writing on food, drinks and travel. Aoife is WSET-trained and is currently researching a Masters on ‘Cultural Representations of the Irish Pub’ at TU Dublin.