Judge the Winding Stair on Ormond Quay by its deep-green façade, plastered as it is with posters for gigs and plays, you’d be forgiven for walking past. Step into the ground-floor bookshop, or climb the staircase to the restaurant, however, and you’re in for a big surprise.
Starting with the restaurant, I ordered a two-course lunch special (€18.95) from a deeply Irish menu putting contemporary twists on dishes like corned beef, spring lamb and Kilkeel hake.
I couldn’t resist the homemade beans on toast, which came with a slice of ciabatta, a tomato sauce with a sprinkle of celery, and Mount Callan cheddar melted on top. The beans had a little too much dryness and bite for my taste, but it was a yummy dish, as was the fillet of Mourne blossom that follows.
The room itself is splashed with daylight, with views over the Ha’penny Bridge framed by chalk boards, bookshelves and an old wine bar. Around me, a lady read her book, a cabal of barristers chatted, and a toddler told her parents she was still hungry after demolishing her ice-cream. All sorts.
Downstairs, the hob-nobby bookshop fits new and second-hand volumes around oddities like old typewriters, tasselled lamps and a vintage leather armchair worn to a shine. You can also grab a cuppa and a slice of carrot cake, watching the world go by from sunny window seats.
Details: 40 Lwr. Ormond Quay, 01 872-7320; winding-stair.com.