Restaurant Review: The Butcher Grill, 92 Main Street, Ranelagh, Dublin 6.

Just like almost all of you reading this I have working molars and eye-teeth and I like to use them. I’ve never understood why a significant number of Irish people want their steak ‘as soft as butter’ — I want meat to get my teeth into, the texture is where the flavour is found.

I’ve been re-reading Mark Schatzker’s book Steak about the author’s worldwide quest for the best tasting beef. This is not a simple subject but I was pleased to see that he comes down firmly on grass-fed and busts the myth that fat-marbling is everything. Yes Irish beef is often finished on cereal but the bulk of their diet is grass and it shows in the texture.

Butcher Grill in Ranelagh was opened in 2010 by John Farrell (of Luna, 777 and upcoming wine bar Amy Austin) and is designed for beef purists with an ever changing beef menu that includes Irish and non-Irish beef.

Starter options included oysters, tuna tostados and scallops and ranged in price from €12-14 but given we were on a beef kick we had to order the tartare.

I suspect this was from US beef as it was very soft and sweet tasting and topped with a raw quail’s egg — some tart caper jam and chipotle mayonnaise added a touch of smoky contrast. While we hoovered it up I’d have liked the option to choose tartare from grass-fed or cereal fed. Gambas were served with small dice of Iberico chorizo, red pepper and nicely cooked but being an admittedly fussy food-writer I would prefer to have seen cold-water Dublin Bay prawns.

But now to the main event. Butcher Grill only does top level beef so I didn’t expect bargains but beware that if you want (an admittedly enormous) 35oz Irish Tomahawk steak to share it will cost €120; a 10oz USA Sirloin costs €34. We opted for the much more modest 24oz Côte de Boeuf (€68) for two and it was plenty — extraordinarily beefy and tasty and served perfectly rare as requested.

This managed to walk the fine line of inducing joyful chewing to bring out the beefy-grassy flavours but with enough tenderness that the chewing added to the pleasure. A ramekin of creamy vibrant béarnaise sauce and five onion rings broke up the flavours a little as did a delicious bowl of excellent smoky bacon black-eye beans and a round of crispy fries (€4.50).

The wine list offers 40 wines ranging in price from €29 for a Pinot Grigio or entry-level Languedoc red to €160 for a Puligny Montrachet or a Cru-Bourgeois Bordeaux at €105. The list is from solid importers such as Wines Direct but I was disappointed to see just six wines under €40 — Wines Direct alone has around 15 good wines that would fit this price range.

Our bottle of Joven 1605 La Mancha Tempranillo (from Wines Direct) did have solid fruit and a touch of complexity and at €37 the cost-price ratio was about fair. From the classic cocktail list my guest chose a Manhattan made with Woodford Bourne Bourbon and Carpano Vermouth - this was elegantly made and these days the €12 it cost is about average for Dublin.

The dessert menu sticks closely to the old reliables and my Rhubarb Crème Brûlée (€8.50) had a nicely blow-torched caramelised sugar top and a scoop of creamy camomile ice-cream which added a herbal touch.

The rhubarb had pleasingly retained some of its acidity and the custard base had creamy rich flavours but beneath the warm caramelised top the custard was ice-cold which significantly diminished the pleasure — surely a pre-cooked dish like this does not need to be kept at three degrees celsius?

Chocolate Délice was nicely chocolatey and gooey, although I’d have preferred a higher cocoa content in the chocolate.

So do go to Butcher Grill for the beef which is truly excellent and easily a 9/10 judged on my Côte de Boeuf and if you like your soft sweet American beef I suspect you will be delighted.

My niggles were minor enough and easily fixed or avoided but next time I go I’m skipping starters and desserts and just ordering a 35oz Irish-reared Tomahawk Steak.

The Tab

Dinner for two including two starters, two mains, a side, two desserts, a cocktail and a bottle of wine cost €165.50

How to: Sunday to Wednesday, 5.30pm- 9.30pm; Thursday to Saturday, 5.30pm-10.30pm; Lunch: Saturday and Sunday, 12pm-3pm

The verdict

Food: 7.5/10 (Côte de Boeuf: 9/10)

Drink: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Ambiance: 7.5/10

Value: 7/10

In a sentence:

Butcher Grill offers high-end Irish and American beef and while cooking standards are fairly high the beef is the primary reason to go.

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