Cow’s Lane is undoubtedly the prettier side of Temple Bar. You may have whiled away a summer’s evening at La Dolce Vita, the wine bar next to the Queen of Tarts, sitting outside to take in the view of Smock Alley Theatre at one end of the street. Did you know this wine bar has a new name?
Wine importer Enrico Fantasia, formerly of Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, joined forces with Thibaud Harang to relaunch La Dolce Vita as Piglet in the summer of 2016. They did it without much fanfare, yet they made enough of a splash to appear on a number of food critics’ end of year lists as best wine bar, with their food offering getting particular attention.
The interior is still as higgildy-piggildy as La Dolce Vita was (or should that be higgily-piglety?), with boxes of unpacked wine cluttering the stairs as we head up to our table in the little mezzanine area that overlooks the bar. Rather than charming, it just feels messy. The stools at the downstairs bar offer an enticing look into the tiny kitchen area, but it’s the outside seating area that really makes this wine bar a real find. In fact, this is the first time I’ve sat inside this little wine bar but the January weather calls for it. It’s busy on the Friday evening we visit, with couples and friends catching up over a bottle of something special and a plate of food.
There’s a new creative flair to the menu, which once offered decent but straightforward Italian fare of bruschetta and cured meat platters. Now there are duck gizzards on toast and oysters with anchovy cream on the tapas menu, each at €3 per tapas.
Duck gizzards are a part of the bird’s stomach, and look like little red pebbles. At Piglet, they’re cooked beautifully so that they’re tender and succulent, served with a garlic butter on toasted sourdough. Really delicious. Thin slices of lardo on toast go down well, but we’re a little less sure of the anchovy foam that arrives alongside a shucked oyster. It’s more of a cream with a sprinkling of dried anchovies on top. There is too much of it and it doesn’t add anything to the experience.
The sourdough bread that the tapas are served on is delicious, sourced from the exceptional bakery Le Levain, and Sheridan’s Cheesemongers get a shout out on the cheeseboard menu (€8/€12).
A plate of Spaghetti all Chitarra (€16), described on the menu as prawn ragu with pesto, is disappointingly bland, lacking in seasoning. The prawn ragu is made of proper langoustine meat, which is delicious, but a gloopy green sauce looks (and tastes) unappetising. Orrechiette with peppers, almonds and ricotta fares a little better. The peppers are well cooked so that their sweetness comes through but the raw, chopped almonds would have benefited from a light toasting. The pasta plates don’t match the promise of those exciting tapas plates and we feel underwhelmed.
We’re back on track with a lovely classic tiramisu (€6.50) for dessert. A little plate of L’Art du Chocolate treats (three pieces for €4), handmade by French pasty chef Cyril and chocolatier Nicolas in Maynooth, is another example of artisan producers hand-picked for this menu.
The wine list, as would be expected, is carefully curated. A glass of Zweigelt Pinot Noir from Austria (€11.50 per glass) is a juicy delight, but it’s one of the relatively small number of wines on the menu that can be enjoyed by the glass. You’re in good hands though in terms of committing to a bottle of wine. It’s all good.
There are some Luscombe lemonades (€4.80 a bottle) and ginger ales for the non-drinkers, and a post-tiramisu macchiato (€2.50) is expertly made. Our bill came to a total of €68.30.
Piglet Wine Bar
5 Cow’s Lane
Words: Aoife McElwain
Photo: Killian Broderick