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Solo Goes Out

Falling in love in FXB

When Table For One had to organise a family dinner recently, ending up in FXBs was a happy accident.

steak1You’d be amazed how many Dublin restaurants are closed on Sunday evenings. Or just closed, which is precisely what Kitty’s Bistro on Merrion Row is. Remember Kitty’s? Used to be Kitty’s Kaboodle ’til it went upmarket (and down in atmosphere)? Now it’s nowhere. It’s completely shut – something I didn’t discover until I tried to call and the number was no longer in service.
In any case I had the task of then finding somewhere else to dine on a cold and wet Sunday in January. Somewhere near the National Concert Hall preferably. God, they weren’t asking for much. After considerable searching I came upon FXB – the old reliable on Pembroke Street that is more associated with steak than any of the success (and then failure) stories of the Celtic Tiger. A 5.30pm booking was no problem, I was told, which was a great relief. I was beginning to think we might have to have pre-show homemade sandwiches.
There wasn’t a sinner inside when we arrived, except for the lovely waiter who was most attentive with the whole showing us our table and taking our coats part. Then again, we were his only customers. We were just getting settled when the even lovelier supervisor/manager/person in charge made an appearance, taking my breath and appetite away in one clean swoop. I could have gazed at him all night only there was multiple menus to be read and explained to the senior citizens among us who had forgotten their glasses.
In light of the recession, FXB does a great ‘Fixed Price All Day Menu’, which includes three courses for a reasonable €29.95. With starters like chowder, antipasti and calamari, main courses like pork chops, all sorts of steak and fish and desserts like chocolate mousse and bread and butter pudding, there really is something for everyone. If you’re planning on eating that amount that is. I wasn’t (loss of appetite due to dashing host remember?) so I settled for ordering the 8oz dry aged sirloin steak (€21) off the regular menu, which was served to me with salad instead of mash, just as I requested. (Surprising how many restaurants forget/ignore you when you rewrite the menu).
Everyone else, being hungry and not in love, went for the set menu and the general opinion was very positive. The chowder was delicious – almost a meal in itself – as was the antipasti and peppered calamari fritters. I tasted the latter and agreed. Steaks were equally good, with each one cooked to perfection as per directions given – FXB doesn’t take any chances with clueless punters and has a ‘How do you like your steak done?’ section on the menu that explains that rare means a ‘very red cool centre’, medium rare means ‘red warm centre’, medium means ‘warm pink centre’ and so on.
The older folk were not too impressed with the bread and butter pudding, claiming it wasn’t the ‘real thing’. Not being familiar with the dish, I had a spoonful and thought it was scrumptious. (Yes, I know, for someone who wasn’t all that peckish I was milling into everyone else’s food). But what do I know? Still, that was the only black mark and the Irish coffees were so divine it was forgotten about by the time we were leaving.
I tried to catch the object of my affection’s eye as we headed off, but the dining area had filled up at that stage and he was busily serving another party. Pity. I will have to live with the lovely memory. Or really be a Table For One and go back on my own maybe.

FXB Pembroke (www.fxb.ie) is located on Pembroke Street, Dublin 2, tel: +353 (0)1 6764606.

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