A few years ago, my partner and I lived close to Heuston Station and, when we were feeling flush, we’d head into Nancy Hands on Parkgate Street for a yummy dinner. These days, Ryan’s nearly next door is an FXB outlet so Nancy’s isn’t as popular as it used to be. Unfortunately, the food in our old haunt isn’t doing anything to court people back.
We ventured back to Nancy’s recently with my parents, had a lovely pint and chat downstairs before we ventured up to the restaurant area. I was looking forward to the food because a) I was staaaaaaarving and b) if the bar food looked this good, the restaurant food would be delish.
The restaurant was empty but for one other party, which didn’t bother me as it this was a Wednesday night. I should have listened to the warnings.
We were seated by an efficient, if slightly bored, waitress and handed our menus and wine list. I chose a wine and was informed they didn’t have it. Fair enough, no bother. We ordered our food and I chose something else for us to quaff. The menu in Nancy Hands is restricted enough, but that’s usually true of a place that doesn’t want to throw out slops. The wine menu, it has to be said, is expensive by usual standards.
We decided to go straight for mains, much to my mam’s delight at cracking ‘straight’ jokes. I ordered Lamb Cutlets encrusted with herbs, served with roasted beetroot & fondant potato, my partner chose the Vegetarian Gnocchi with ricotta & pine-nuts, served in a roast cherry tomato sauce, my dad is an Irish man of a certain age so of course went for the steak and my mother, the Fillet of Sea Bream grilled & placed on wilted fennel with a anise flavoured broth.
We sat and chatted and chatted….and sat and waited….and chatted. No food, no service, nothing. Now, fair enough, you have to wait for the food to be cooked but 40 minutes? Had the company not been so entertaining, I would have been livid. I mean come on we’re bringing the parents out for dinner! Who wouldn’t want everything to be perfect?
The food arrived. Lord. I think they waited 20 minutes just so my lamb would be perfectly tepid; awful. I had been asked and requested it medium, I got warm and well done.
It was my partner’s gnocchi that took the biscuit though. Gnocchi is potato pasta, should be light but have a more doughy consistency than usual pasta. This? This was awful, just awful. I can only describe it as feeling like risotto. In the mouth it fell into rice-like mush. I looked and looked but there was not a sign of a pine nut. And it was covered in a tomato sauce that tasted as if it came from a certain Uncle Ben or Aunt Dolmio.
My parents both insisted that their’s was delicious. But then we were paying, so what could they say? Having said that, they finished every morsel, so maybe myself and the little lady were just unlucky.
For dessert my mother had Ice cream with Passion fruit sorbet. It was ok if a little watery.
All in all the bill, with two bottles of wine, came to a rip-off €190. I have eaten much, much better for much, much cheaper.
Obviously on the night, I didn’t go on about how disappointed I was as it was a lovely night with my parents. But I’ve been livid about the place since. How can you charge €25 for cold lamb and €18 for awful, awful gnocchi in a plastic sauce? I meant to check the bar menu and see if it was the same as the restaurant’s, but forgot.
Nancy Hands is a lovely bar, it and the restaurant look gorgeous – all walnut, leather and old brick work. Unfortunately there is a reason people are staying away in droves. Never again.
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