Restaurant review: Bewleys Hotel, Newlands Cross

The name "Bewleys" is synonymous with an old-fashioned cafe in Dublin's Grafton Street established by the famous Quaker family under Victor Bewley. Famous for over one hundred years, the cafe epitomized good quality drink and food in themed surroundings, specifically Oriental. When first introduced, it was a breath of fresh air but towards the end of the twientieth century it had become tired. The Bewley family sold the cafes in the 1980s and Patriick Campbell took it over, developing the label.

The franchise has now got two hotels in Dublin, and it was the establishment at Newlands Cross on Dublin's outskirts (and beside the road to Cork and the south) that we visited. Having already tried their restaurant in Stillorgan, Co. Dublin, we were curious to see whether the Newlands Cross operation would be better or worse.

The restaurant styling is modern, fresh, clean and attractive. After a moment we were lead to our seats and presented with the menus. Since we arrived before the evening peak we could avail of the early diners' menu. I chose the "Buffalo wings" (a.k.a. chicken wings) with which to start, while one of my companions had bruschetta and the other opted for the brie and toast. The chicken wings were delicious - the sauce was persuasive but not too pungent. They said their starters were very good, and the brie looked particularly tasty.

For my main course I could not resist the 10oz steak and it was excellent. Accompanied by a delicate peppercorn sauce (chefs can sometimes get too enthusiastic with this), it was finely cooked and extremely tender and accompanied by freshly cooked vegetables (definitely not frozen) and potatoes. My companions went all non-carnivorious, perhaps to offset my steak and they opted for the two fish dishes (salmon and the chef's own concoction).

For dessert, two of us chose the Baileys Cheesecake which we had sampled previously in Bewleys Leopardstown Road. This was marginally disappointing for me, since there was little Baileys and lots of cream. However, the cheesecake base was really good and wholesome. The ice cream medley, scoffed by my companion, looked a better choice in retrospect.

Service throughout the evening was prompt but not intrusive. Since I was driving and one of my friends was teetotal, we had soft drinks rather than a bottle of wine. The early bird dinner was €25.98 and included the starters, main course (my steak was €1 extra, although they forgot to add it to the bill and I didn't notice) and dessert. Soft drinks were typically priced for a hotel with a coke or lemon being €2.60.

While Bewleys is not the sort of place you might go on a regular basis, it is really good for a special occasion. Parking is free at Newlands Cross (but not Leopardstown Road - it should be, in my opinion) and Newlands is the perfect location if you're arriving in Dublin from the country at peak time and want a very pleasant alternative to grappling with the heavy traffic on the M50. Pull into the hotel and order before 7pm to avail of the early bird offer. You can then continue your merry uncongested way into the city when the evening rush has abated.

I thoroughly recommend Bewleys restaurant at Newlands Cross, Naas Road, Clondalkin.

Peter Scott, 1 November 2008.

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