Brunch at the Winding Stair

I’ve always loved the Winding Stair restaurant on the quays – the first time I went, I was about 10, and up in Dublin for the weekend with my mother on my own (nirvana in the life of a child with 3 sisters). I had potted crab (how fancy) sealed with a thick layer of butter, and I sniggered every time the beautiful Spanish waiter called me madam. Anyway, I’ve been back a few times since, and it has never disappointed. This weekend, we decided to try the brunch menu – a fairly new addition I think (i.e. in the last 3 years or so), and steadily popular since its inception.

As always, one of the big draws of the restaurant is the dining room – it is pretty small, but not so that you’d ever feel really cramped, and there is a most magnificent view over the Liffey. This is one of the reasons it is a staple for me when I am recommending places for tourists/friends to eat when visiting Dublin – it has a real Dublin feel to it, without being at all pretentious or tacky.

And so to the food – the menu is pretty varied, and we all agreed that we would happily come back and try multiple things on the menu. It is hearty fare, and probably not what you’d have for breakfast-brunch, more lunch-brunch if you catch my drift. Prices range from around 10 euro for a main right up to 20 euro for the steak and eggs. A very elegant lady in her 70s-80s informed me and my sister as we passed her on the staircase, that this steak was the best she’d ever eaten. We’ll have to take her word for it, as none of us indulged this time!

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Mum and I both chose the potato waffle with Irish smoked salmon and pickles, Sarah chose the slow-cooked pork ribs, Dad the huevos rancheros, and Ruth the seafood chowder. Everything was huge – particularly the ribs, which could have fed two. The main thing that I took away from it all was that the ingredients used were really really good quality – the chowder had oodles of gubeen chorizo in it, and my salmon was just gorgeous. Nothing was terribly terribly exciting, but you don’t really need tons of innovation at brunch. For example, my dish was a little dry, with nothing to tie the waffle and the salmon together, but it was exactly what I wanted.

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We looked at the dessert menu, and decided that the 5 of us would share a lemon posset (cue the inevitable jokes about how posset means ‘little vomit’ – I swear, look it up) and everyone got coffees. The coffee was delicious, and really hot, something that is so rare now. I understand that really good coffee is supposed to be served warm not boiling, as it spoils the flavour or something, but it is so annoying to have to gulp down your drink in 2 mouthfuls for fear that it will go cold while you chat. For someone like me who would like to live in a coffee shop, it is far from ideal, being harder to justify your 2 hour stay when your coffee is gone after 2 minutes. Anyway, the dessert was really nice, served in a ginormous tall glass, with berry compote, and paired with two beautifully buttery homemade shortbread biscuits. Definitely a successful dessert, and would lead me to believe that either the brownie or the pear and ginger cake would be a good bet.

All in all, everyone was extremely full and very satisfied after brunch. Big selling points included the menu, the location/view, and the fact that you could book – more and more a rarity for busy brunch sittings on the weekends. The downsides could be that it is a little pricier than you might expect, and not ideal for breakfast (a startling absence of pancakes/french toast/granola/any sweet main option). Then again, this is their target market, and what they do, they do extremely well. We’ll definitely be back!

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