The recently opened Lockside Bar/Social at The Clayton Hotel on Charlemont Street is, in fairness, just as advertised.
“Chic and stylish eatery,” the website reads. “Boasting this distinctively bustling bar, in an area that is all about atmosphere, a meeting point, a place to relax and be sociable.”
It wasn’t exactly bustling when my colleague and I arrived on a Friday evening, but with a large party chatting and laughing away in the back room, atmosphere was not lacking.
The space is clean and stylish with contemporary decor and retro 1960s-esque leather shell chairs.
Thankfully, music volume is kept to a minimum. Large, wall-height windows allow for ample natural light and views of the walkway running parallel to the Grand Canal.
It’s a rather calm and relaxing place to be, meanderingly watching people bustle up and down the canal as the sun sets over the city.
The bar offers only five cocktails, which were priced slightly over the Dublin city average of about €9/€10, at €13 a pop.
My colleague’s Solero tasted, well, like a Solero ice-cream. Citrus and vanilla, sweet and tangy, it was a smooth and easy-drinking cocktail that would accompany a cream-based dessert perfectly.
A slightly better-suited starter cocktail was the Old Fashioned Twist; a play on the classic Old Fashioned, but made with rum instead of whiskey, the cocktail was herbal and slightly sweet with a mellow alcohol after-taste.
Seasoned, battered cauliflower with pomegranate and masala aioli was the starter of choice.
Crispy and crunchy, the batter was well seasoned but not overly spicy, allowing the palette to re-cleanse before the main course.
Helping ourselves to the last of our cocktails while waiting for the mains, business began to pick up.
Hotel guests and evening loungers started to emerge from their rooms and tourist duties and by 8pm, The Lockside began to adopt the feel of a natural restaurant, rather than a bar that also serves food.
After a short wait, our main meal arrived. My colleague’s Black Angus Burger was as expected – a tasty piece of meat with all of the classic trimmings.
Any restaurant worth their salt should be able to rustle up a decent burger so, thankfully, the Lockside Bar/Social didn’t disappoint.
Unusually, the server never asked how I like my sirloin steak – a policy or mistake, I do not know.
However, it arrived perfectly cooked to rare-medium-rare and simply seasoned with salt and pepper.
Now, I for one enjoy a good steak and chunky chips. However, the patatas bravas served with the steak were small in size and offered little to overall enjoyability of the meal.
They were missing something, but something I can’t quite put my finger on.
The shallot puree, mushroom tapenade, however, were the perfect accompaniment and complemented the meat perfectly.
After a couple of glasses of wine and truly delicious apricot cheesecake, we were unquestionably satisfied. The Lockside Bar/Social tows the line between up-market eatery and casual bar, but it does so admirably.
In an excellent location with good food and great staff, the restaurant/bar/social (whatever you want to call it) is an excellent destination to dine in.