Interesting times at The Merrion Inn

by Rebecca Ryan

The Merrion Inn, one of Dublin’s most iconic family run pubs, is certainly giving their customers something to smile about!

Not only have they recently launched this season’s exciting new menu which is already getting rave reviews, but they have recently launched a series of other new exciting initiatives to delight their customers.

Some of these initiatives include a new early bird menu, a season discount for Leinster Rugby Season Ticket holders, upgraded TV screens, pre-order lunch facilities for time pressed executives and two customer events – Whiskey Wednesdays & Steak Nights with complimentary wine on Thursday & Saturday.

June 2012 marked the end of an era for the leafy suburb of Dublin 4 when the pub fell victim to a major fire that swept through the building. The Merrion Inn underwent a total transformation and redesign and today presents itself as a top notch eatery with a strong focus on food as well an impressive selection of craft beers, spirits and world wines. Five years on this November, The Merrion Inn is a buzzing hub of activity providing local businesses as well as families and locals with a friendly and professional environment to meet up for chats, drink and food.

Dublin Gazette caught up with third-generation owner Fearghus McCormack to chat about the new menu and what else is happening with this iconic Dublin pub.

Fearghus, can you tell me a bit about how you started out in the family business?
“My grandfather started the business in the 1940s in what’s now called Peter’s Pub in the City Centre. We then moved to premises in Monkstown called McCormacks & Sons which my uncle Paddy McCormack still owns and runs, and my father purchased this premises here in Ballsbridge in the early 90s.

“I’ve grown up living on top of a pub and working in it since I was 12. While I have a master’s degree in engineering, I always stayed in touch with the business. I suppose you could say that it’s in my blood.

“When I was a younger man, I worked all over the world doing lots of things, including hospitality, so I’ve been able to bring that kind of experience back to The Merrion Inn.”

What do you love most about working at The Merrion Inn?  “Getting to look after my customers and making sure that they leave happier than when they walked in. I know most of our customers by name and that’s because I enjoy doing what I do.”

You’re known as a rugby pub and a great place to go to before or after the game. You’ve just painted the pub front a shade of green – is that a nod towards your strong rugby links?
The pub has always had a strong link with both Irish and Leinster rugby as we are located quite near both the RDS and the Aviva Stadium.

“Even one of the most famous rugby players never to play for Leinster, Ross O’Carroll Kelly, has popped in once or twice over the years!

“Recently, we’ve upgraded our TV screens for our customers – they’re now even bigger and brighter so our customers won’t miss a kick of the ball.

“We’ve also launched a special offer to all Leinster rugby season ticket holders – they can now receive 10% off their food and wine bill throughout the rugby season.

“It’s our way of saying thank-you for their custom and support over the years.”
You’ve some great fun nights at The Merrion Inn. Can you tell us about your Whiskey Wednesdays and Steak Nights?

“We introduced Whiskey Wednesday evenings to try to support and promote premium Irish whiskey.

“All our whiskeys are labelled on the back bar so there is no embarrassment in asking us the price and no surprises then on the bill. Every Wednesday we discount all our 50 premium Irish whiskeys by 15 to 20%.

“Every Thursday and Saturday we have the very popular Steak Night customer evenings.
“We have a deliciously juicy premium 12oz Hereford Irish rib eye steak with chargrilled prawns which is served with chunky chips, a herb-baked beef tomato, pepper corn sauce and tempura onions with a complimentary glass of Zagalia or Costa Cruz wine for just €28.50.”

There are mumblings of Christmas already! I hear it’s a very busy time for you.
“We’ve already had several bookings for work parties and Christmas Eve. This year we have a three-course Christmas menu with a glass of prosecco on arrival for €38 in our downstairs restaurant.

“Our Horse Shoe Room Bar on the first floor accommodates up to 150 people, which is perfect for staff nights out or big parties all year round, but it is especially busy over the Christmas period.

“We also have a long tradition of family gatherings on Christmas Eve. It’s always a fun day and is booked out early.”

You’ve just launched a brand-new menu. I hear your new fish dish is a huge hit!
“We try to change our menu seasonally, so we can keep it in line with seasonal favourites as well as making sure the menu is fresh and interesting.

“Fish dishes are continually firm favourites amongst our customers.
“One of our new fish dishes, a stuffed fillet of hake with a prawn and black pudding stuffing, roast celeriac and carrot, saute prawns with an orange and caraway cream is going particularly well, and our seafood skillet is also one of the top dishes that customers rave about.”

The Merrion Inn is a very loved place. What do you think sets you apart?
“I’m proud to say that we have a great team in place here – some have been with us for years and know the needs of our customers so well. They are our most important asset. It’s because of their skills and exceptional customer engagement that people come back to us again and again.

“I also think because we are a family-run business which serves restaurant-quality food in a relaxed setting, people feel at ease with us.

“Apart from our steaks, we make a point of keeping of our dishes under €20, because we want to ensure our customers get a good-value experience with us without paying restaurant prices.

“We have 33 world wines by the glass, which is one of the largest selections of pouring wines in Ireland.

“There really is something for everybody. To call us to make a reservation, ring 01 269 3816.”

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