Dining in Dublin @ Darwins

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there but Dublin’s hungry carnivores can sample the reassuring juices of a perfectly cooked steak in the sanctuary of Darwins — Dublin city centre’s classy haven for meat-lovers.

Walking into Darwins, on Aungier Street, is like gliding back into the era of evolutionary discovery. With its refined cream interior and low lighting, diners can rest assured that yes, they are indeed at the top of the food chain. For this reason it took one special occasion, courtesy of a meat loving birthday boy, to finally get us a cosy table for two.

AWOL with Alice, Dublin, Darwins

The menu at Darwins has something for everyone — despite its carnivorous overtones.  You will find the likes of a warm butternut squash, chickpea & goat’s cheese salad, or fish soup with saffron, carrot & cardamom, for starters. Sadly, we went on a budget, so we skipped straight on to the meat…!

Nibbling on neatly trimmed slices of bread and sipping on a glass of the excellent Ménage a Trois red from 2009 (€29) — I’m not a wine connoisseur but I have a faithful relationship with red wine and the mixture of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot makes this a soft, silky choice perfect for steak dinners — we pored over the menu.

Now, steak can be a tricky dish for chefs to tailor to their diners’ tastes and many restaurants differ in approach, but Darwins attempts to curtail any potential dissatisfaction with an explicit list of temperatures:

Blue:  slowly warmed in the oven, takes the longest to prepare
Rare:  52 °C very red cool centre
Medium-rare:   55 °C very red, warm centre
Medium:  60 °C middle of the steak red, pink surrounding the centre
Medium-well:   65 °C pink in the centre of the meat, brown towards exterior
Well-done:  71 °C cooked through tends to be without moisture

I chose the premium eye fillet steak (€28), cooked medium-well — this may be sacrilege to some, but if it still moos I lose my appetite. The tender 10oz steak arrived heated to perfection, with a splash of pink in the middle offering enough moisture and flavour to satisfy my carnivorous craving. On the other hand Billy, the birthday boy, went all out with the 14oz dry-aged strip loin steak, medium rare (€34). The ensuing silence betrayed our enjoyment of the meal.

Our slabs of meat arrived with a choice of sauce on the side and a wonderfully smooth scoop of mash potato. We both opted for the garlic butter from a choice of pepper sauce, mushroom sauce, sauce béarnaise, red wine jus — all of which are gluten free. I would definitely advise picking a few side dishes to accompany your steak, as it does look a little lonely on those big white dishes. We went for the dressed green salad (€2.95) and the house chips (€3.95), the perfect amount to bulk-up your meal without going overboard.

You might call it glorified steak and chips, but isn’t that what being at the top of the food chain is all about? The simple and yet delicious fusion of flavours were done to perfection. My steak was still moist despite my overly cautious medium-well request, thank goodness!

The service in Darwins improved as the evening progressed and our table was taken over by a particularly down-to-earth waitress. Our bill came in at €97.90. We could have done it a bit cheaper — but really, it wouldn’t have been so enjoyable. Of course, we could also have gone for it by digging into some of their fine looking desserts. The Eton mess, marinated fresh berries, vanilla cream & lemon (€9) was tempting, but in all honesty I was perfectly content with my fill.

Darwins does have a vegetarian menu — though I would imagine the Darwinian concept wouldn’t thrill vegetarians– and a selection of seafood and meat dishes, which makes it a good choice for a special occasion with a variety of friends, fussy or fierce.

Darwins, 80 Aungier Street, Dublin 2.

Find out more about Darwins here.

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