The Big Dish: Catherine Rutter Reviews French Wine Bar La Ruelle

a red sign on a brick wall over an arch saying La Ruelle

Dublin style icon and foodie Catherine Rutter had to think on her toes when going for an impromptu meal on a Saturday sans reservation. Luckily she found a table at La Ruelle, just of Dublin’s Dawson Street. But did it deliver the goods?


This La Ruelle review was originally published in GCN Issue 329 which is available to read online here.

Saturday night in Bank Holiday Dublin with my hot pal for dinner – we wanted a catch-up, a menu to suit a (hot) pescatarian pal, a decent wine list, and all on the spur of the moment. We found it just off Dawson Street at La Ruelle Wine Bar, it serves wine and tapas and made us feel like we were having a little holiday in the city we live in, which is never a bad thing.

The room is pleasant, long and narrow with a low lighting and comfortable seating, its primary tones are black and muted red making the overall ambience feel quite intimate. The back wall has an interesting trompe l’oeill photograph that definitely adds to the sense of being somewhere other than Dublin. The tables aren’t on top of each other so there’s a lovely feeling of space making it perfect for a date, a catch-up or business dinners.

We were seated immediately. The staff are pleasant and attentive but not overly so and menus and water arrived within moments. The wine menu offers a choice of about 80 wines, ranging from €22 to €85, and many are available by the glass. We opted for a bottle of Gavi di Gavi, La Chiara, Piemonte, 2012 (€28.00), which was professionally served in covetous glassware, it’s a refined wine and perfectly complimented our food.

I’ve eaten here a number of times so can highly recommend the majority of the menu. Most of the dishes can be ordered in small (€5.95 to €12.00) or large (€14.50 to €17.95) plates, and are perfect for sharing. The menu starts with Bites and Tapas featuring Marinated Olives, Patatas Bravas, Patatas Aioli, and Bread and Pesto.Starter highlights include Camembert Chaud with Crusty Bread (a dish so simple the only two ingredients have to be the best available, and that’s what you get here), an Artisan Charcuterie Selection, and Pâté de Volaille (Chicken Liver Pate) with a texture and intensity of flavour that makes for a perfect combination and the Seasonal Cheese Board assures a rotating board of cheese perfection. Main Course highlights are Calamar sauce Aioli, Gambas Sautée a l’Ail, and Tartiflette.

We ordered four small dishes, all of which arrived within seconds of one another, turning our table into a smörgåsbord of delights. Although my friend doesn’t eat meat, I had to have the Croquette au Jambon de Serrano. They’re cooked to perfection with a stiff Béchamel sauce that deliciously compliments the saltiness of the Jambon in a crisp, fried breadcrumb coating and served piping hot, it’s best to eat them hot, so don’t be polite, just go for it.

My compromise was the Moules Marinières, I’m just not a fan of Mussels but my pal is and ate them with the speed I devoured the Croquettes, these are Roaring Bay mussels from Co Cork steamed in White Wine and Cream, fresh parsley and pearl onion. I tried a couple, I find them weird but I loved dipping bread in the sauce they were steamed in.

The Croquette de Cabillaud are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, with plump chunks of salt cod and the perfect amount of seasoning. Another slight compromise was the duo of Roast Fig stuffed with goat cheese and thyme, one wrapped in Serrano ham and one not. The combination of tastes is heavenly, with thyme sprinkled through the goat’s cheese, the sweetness of the figs, and the saltiness of the ham. Apparently, they’re even delicious without the ham.

We were too full for dessert but from previous visits, I can strongly recommend ‘The Indecisive’ – a mini Crème Brûlée, Brownie, and the Bread and Butter Pudding. Four small plates, wine, bread, marinated olives, and hand-roasted peanuts brought the bill to €72.40. We rounded it up to €84 to include a tip and left sated, talked out, and ready for a dance.

La Ruelle Wine Bar, Joshua Lane, Dawson St, Dublin 2, Website, (01) 679 9544

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