Restaurant review

Note Bar & Bistro serves up a meal that hits all the right notes

The sound of clapping gets better when it rains – no it’s not a Confucius quote or a physics problem or an art project, it’s a “natural” wine from a blend of black and white Grenache d’Ardèche sold by the Note Dublin wine bar. The world of wine is changing and we must change with it.

The younger generation of wine drinkers don’t like words like ‘castle’ or ‘gran reserva’, they buy wines with colorful labels called ‘Splash’ and ‘Crazy Cat’ – they don’t want wine cellar, they want to drink it now.

And they’re probably right: wine is, after all, just a beverage that aids digestion. It can certainly have a complex taste, but let’s not forget that it also has “the power to banish worries”, to quote wine writer Hugh Johnson. Wine can be serious if you like, but to be honest, I’ve never enjoyed the company of people who take wine too seriously. Note Dublin aims to ensure that fun comes first.

The formidable Katie Seward is in charge of Note’s wine and you can trust her. I do. Wines by the glass range from €9-14 with good choices such as Lapierre Morgon and Occhipinti Frappato. Bottles start at €30 for this reliable old Ciello Blanco Cattarato from Sicily (though Ciello Rosso is missing for some reason). Unfortunately, it’s almost less than 40 €. Natural wine is expensive, I know that, but come on guys, there must be others under €40! So that’s my review aside.

Katie suggested Le Petit Canon (€49), a juicy French Syrah made by Irishman Killian Horan that was vibrant and luscious, and pleasantly served slightly chilled to go well with everything from marinated zucchini to pork to croquettes of bacalao.

Note’s menu has a largely Mediterranean vibe with a good selection of small and medium sized dishes to share, as well as heartier main courses.

Service and platter are relaxed but confident, and I loved the big bunch of radishes (€8) which arrived with the leaves and roots still attached – plus a bowl of tangy bagna cauda to dip them into. The fruity sweet and sour marinated zucchini slices (€4) were also just about perfect, and these two snacks are probably my favorite meal starters this year.

Then come the razor clams (€13) in a Mexican aguachile ceviche with cucumber and onion — the sweet fruitiness of the shellfish contrasting naturally with the acidity of the lime and jalapeño. The bacalao croquettes (€11) were crispy and soft and freshly salted on the inside; while the vitello tonnato (€14) had silky, almost succulent slices of veal, contrasting with the concentrated intensity of a perfect tonnato sauce.

Had we stopped at this point, this review would still have been high praise, but then came the flavorful Iberian pork; served pink and sat on yellow (French) beans with a slightly sour crème fraîche coating. The pork was perfect but the beans were transformative and game changing, crispy and flavorful, barely cooked (if at all) and acting more like al dente pasta than beans – they made an amazing good dish. As a side: fluffy baby potatoes with the skin on were topped with salty and tangy trout roe, and sat on a rich garlic sauce (an awesome creation well worth ordering on its own) maybe with the extraordinary savignan influenced by the Ganevat Vin Jaune flor.

For dessert, my crumbly frangipane with almonds (€9) was reminiscent of my mother’s version (very good thing) while the dark cherries with a chocolate cream (€9) offered a nice contrast between a rich chocolate and satin and cherries with dark fruit.

We washed them down with Niepoort Ruby, a light version of the great Dirk Niepoort’s young port. Tasting black raspberry and baked cherries with a nice touch of sweetness and spirit – it matched perfectly.

Note that Dublin is a blast – the food and wine are very tasty and thought provoking, but you won’t realize that until later – you’ll have too much fun.

The tab:

Dinner for two with several small plates and starters plus a shared main course, two desserts and a bottle and two glasses of wine costs €181.


Thursday-Sunday: 5 p.m.-late

The verdict:

  • Food: 9/10
  • Wine: 9/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Atmosphere: 8/10
  • Value: 8/10

In a sentence:

Note Bar & Bistro is really tasty food and wine in a fun atmosphere.