Opened by chef Simon McNance at the beginning of the century, The Ginger Bistro still does things in a proper, traditional way, from shutting for a week in July so that the team can have a well-deserved rest to forging good relationships with the restaurant’s suppliers, many of whom have been with McNance since this place launched in 2000.
Don’t be deceived by the casual vibe of the warmly lit bistro surrounds, though: there’s some serious modern cooking on offer here, sometimes for serious prices that contrast with the relaxed atmosphere.
Things might kick off with sautéed scallops with black pudding bon bons, cauliflower purée, crispy cauliflower fritters and chorizo butter, or tea-smoked breast of duck salad with wilted vegetables, peanuts, papaya and lemongrass syrup.
Follow with pan-fried fillet of sea bass with fennel cream, leeks and crab claws or roast rump of Irish lamb with carrot and parsnip purée, sautéed cabbage and an individual cottage pie on the side made from lamb, black pudding and chorizo.
It’s not all so intricate, though, and there are enough bistro classics on offer to ensure that The Ginger Bistro is the sort of informal local you’d be happy to drop in to any day of the week: soup of the day, ginger squid with garlic mayo, chicken wrapped in Parma ham and sirloin and fillet steaks.
A set lunch and pre-theatre menu (the Grand Opera House is very close) with lower prices are another reason for local loyalty. Vegetarians, meanwhile, get their own menu, with the likes of squash and spinach risotto with hazelnuts and parmesan, chickpea and sweet potato fritters with tomato salsa and parsnip chips, and red lentil and carrot dahl with tenderstem broccoli tempura displaying just as much imagination as the meat and fish options.
Round it all off with something from the pudding menu: sticky toffee pudding, chocolate cake with strawberries and blueberries or, if you’ve no room left but still crave something sweet, a liqueur-flavoured coffee or glass of Pallazzina Moscato dessert wine.