Fallon & Byrne Exchequer Street Dublin Republic of Ireland
For those of you who get lucky enough to visit the beautiful city of Dublin, I have two great suggestions, Bruxelles bar (see separate review) and Fallon and Byrne.
Fallon & Byrne is truly a food emporium, and sprang from the vision of Paul Byrne and his wife Fiona McHugh, when around 2006 they took over the Telephone Exchange building in Exchequer Street and opened Fallon & Byrne.
The Fallon & Byrne operation comprises of a restaurant on the top floor, a food hall on the ground floor and wine bar in the basement, which creates a vast trading area, catering for most tastes and food occasions.
The Food Hall. As you enter the building on the ground floor you are greeted with rack upon rack of products both local in origin and from around the world, you are just as likely to see American Marshmallow Fluff as you would local Irish products or Italian varies of pasta, Fallon & Byrne stock the best of everything, local line caught fish, aged meat, premium coffee, cakes and confectionary, plus the freshest of fruit and vegetables, in other words delectable crafted foods of every kind.
A deli in the corner of the food hall offer a small amount of seating but a massive array of cakes, sandwiches, fresh fruit tarts, fresh-baked bread and rich chocolate cakes all made by in house bakers, and pastry chefs. You can also order specials of the day, hot meals and soups all made on the premises. Not forgetting of course, the glue that holds any great deli service together premium coffee, the well trained baristas will serve you Fallon & Byrne’s own special blend of coffee in any style of your choice.
Further along the food hall are the cheese, charcuterie and fresh fish counters, I can recommend the Cashel Blue cheese, still made by hand on the same farm in Co. Tipperary, superb home-baked roast hams, locally smoked salmon and the ham hock terrine is out of this world. On the fish counter, Oysters and Dublin Bay prawns are some of the best available, whilst the butcher’s counter boasts a great variety of meat and game from aged beef to loins of pork, rabbit, duck and quail. This place is busy, either during the working week with Dubliners “Grazing” for lunch or the tourists and locals at weekends, so come early to snag a seat and enjoy what has very quickly become an institution in Dublin City.
Fallon & Byrne offer great encouragement to suppliers, from their web site they ask:” If you make, grow, or otherwise perfect something truly delicious that’s not in our shop, please contact us. We’re constantly reviewing our range and nothing makes our pulse race like newly discovered products. (Well, almost nothing).”
Wouldn’t t it be great if all purveyors of food followed their lead to encourage local suppliers and diversity of product?
The Restaurant. Is situated on the top floor and accessed either by stairs or small elevator. There is no particular theme to the restaurant, it has just been sympathetically rendered to take best advantage of the existing architecture and layout, if anything I would say it leans more to the French style of eating ambiance. The restaurant is light, airy and has a great “Buzz” which makes it one of the best places to eat in Dublin.
As with all of Fallon & Byrne’s eating options, the accent is on seasonal fresh produce locally sourced where possible and the best the farmers and fishermen can supply. I have always campaigned for finding the best produce you can, and doing as little to them as possible to retain the natural flavors, this can only be accomplished with the freshest of ingredients. The restaurant here at Fallon & Byrne seems to have perfected this cooking method as evidenced in the dishes I sampled.
Obviously their menu changes with season and availability and they have variety of menus depending on your occasion to visit, but if you can grab any of the dishes below you will get a great taste of what great food Fallon & Byrne can offer.
Grilled seabream, with roasted Jerusalem artichoke, and cucumber – Perfectly cooked to opaque flesh. If you like sea bass, you’ll love bream and unusually pared with Jerusalem artichoke, which tastes somewhere between an artichoke heart and a sunflower seed. Despite its name, the Jerusalem artichoke has no relation to Jerusalem and is not really an artichoke, but the balance really works
Irish crab cake, white and green asparagus, clementine, avocado, sevruga caviar – Sweet local crab, not packed with fillers, not sure you need the caviar though.
Pan-roasted half Irish chicken, cauliflower, spinach, swede potato, Sultana relish, pine nuts. – Chicken can be dry no matter the cooking method, but this one was succulent and made me review my future menu choices in favor of this restaurant staple if they can cook it like this.
Slow-cooked Irish lamb, brasato sauce, wilted greens, creamy polenta, orange & hazelnut gremolata. This dish has its humble beginnings in a traditional Irish lamb stew, but given a premium Italian face lift. It’s a simple marriage of lamb, strong red wine, slow-cooked to let all the ingredients get to know each other.
Menus available include, À la carte lunch – Set lunch menu – À la carte dinner menu – Pre-theatre dinner menu – Large party dinner menu
The Wine Cellar. Access the wine cellar either from the stairs to the left of the entrance to the food hall or again by the small elevator. Once in the cavernous cellar you will see shelving all around the wails of the cellar which display hundreds of wine bottles, the best from everywhere around the world, many served by the bottle or glass, all to take away. All wines on sale are available to enjoy on the premises with the addition of a realistic corkage charge added to the retail shelf price. Every Monday (Excluding the month of December) they only add €1 corkage on top of the shelf price (may be subject to change see menu for details). You can also bring the food you purchase at the food hall deli down to the wine cellar to eat, great if too crowed upstairs.
Seating is choice of barrel topped tables to communal eating options. Menu selections from soups, salads, sandwiches and nibbles plus some more traditional dishes, but my favorite has to be the sharing platters, which just seem to fit not only the surroundings put great with a glass of wine or two. The platters options have expanded over the years and now boast:
1/2 Dozen Carlingford Lough Oysters – Fresh Oysters straight from the fish counter in the food hall and served on a bed of ice with shallot and sherry vinegar dipping sauce.
House Chicken Liver Pate – Served with red onion marmalade and crusty bread
Wild Boar & Cep Terrine – served with caperberries – cornichons (Pickled cucumber) and crusty bread
Cheese Board – Selection of cheese form the food hall chees counter, with quince jelly, grapes and crusty bread.
Charcuterie Board – Cured hams and salamis served with caperberries– cornichons and crusty bread
Mixed Cheese &Charcuterie Board – Selection of cheeses – cured ham and salamis, served with caperberries– cornichons and crusty bread.
Sunday brunch available – Served Sundays 11am to 3pm, relax read the Sunday papers and tuck into:
Pork & leek sausage, smoked streaky bacon, two free-range eggs any style, black pudding, mushrooms, vine cherry tomatoes, house soda bread . You must try this if only for the black pudding (spiced blood sausage with an amazing earthy texture and flavor)
In addition to the vast array of wine, a quirky selection of ales and lagers are available that you may or may not recognize, if in doubt try a Orpens Irish Cider, craft cider that proudly sings of its Irish origins.
LAGERS: Schneider Weisse Kristal Kelheim, Germany – Estrella Damm Barcelona, Spain.
ALES: Boyne Valley, Co. Meath – Torc Malt Dark Ale Killarney, Co. Kerry – Independent Connemara Red Ale Carraroe, Co. Galway.
Service throughout the Fallon and Byrne operation is truly Irish in its conception, although you may be served by many different nationalities in addition to local employees, I have never found it to falter. What do I mean by “Truly Irish”? Well the Irish nation take their food and drink very seriously and with pride, and so they should. This pride is reflected in the warmth of service they provide and depth of knowledge in regard to the products they are suggesting and describing to you. The “Celtic Tiger” (a term that refers to a period of rapid economic growth in the economy of the Republic of Ireland from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s) brought a new level of customer expectations into the Irish restaurant business and saw the arrival of many new “High End” restaurants and bars. These new operations offered a level of service uncommon in the Irish restaurant industry before this time in terms of training, speed and competence, but in many cases lacked warmth and hospitality. The “Celtic Tiger” has been and gone, and thankfully the two levels of service have now largely combined, taking the good from each discipline and learning from each other.
Insider tips for Fallon & Byrne Dublin
As the emporium is such a large space it can get quite noisy, not an issue for me, in fact a plus point as I believe it creates a superb “Vibe” but you may want to review.
Fallon & Byrne has become a Dublin success story and survived the rise and crash of the economy by being faithful to its roots. Over its varied food offerings and opportunities, there is a price point to suit all pockets and true Irish welcome. They have respect and passion for food and see the value in providing only the best possible product to their customers. A simple but winning formula.