@williambarry5: Any words of advice to a person starting out in the restaurant business?
@JoBurgerDublin: If you’re not there living it, you shouldn't be in this biz
That was Joe Macken’s Twitter reply to William Barry’s question back in April, 2012. It’s the perfect reply: live it up, or give it up. Otherwise your restaurant will lack that animating restaurant quality which is – basically – hard graft, and the enjoyment of hard graft.
Not only does Mr Macken live it, his staff do so as well. The team in Bear are outstanding – motivated, sharp, always reading the room, reading the punters, on top of it all. The Bear room has had many restaurant incarnations over the years, but it finally feels comfortable in its skin. It’s not comfortable because money has been lavished on it – not a chance – but because the layout is cool, logical and surprisingly comfortable, given that you eat perched on stools.
For a restaurant which is largely dedicated to meat, Bear’s great trick is to avoid any of the macho clubability and style that usually goes with that carnivorous turf. It’s a standard JM production, inasmuch as it is stripped back, and inasmuch as it works and inasmuch as it has no pretentions. It’s easy to love it.
But: a warning. It seems almost impossible here not to order too much food. You want the rosary cut steak, of course – you sure do – but you also want the million dollar fries of which they are justifiably proud, but then you also want to try the crab, caper and cornichon croquettes to start, and you want some cauliflower cheese and you want some crispy kale.
Bear doesn’t do desserts, and I’ll bet it’s because Macken reckoned that no one would ever get that far. He’s right: a protein and starch fest leaves no room for even thinking about pud.
Sourcing is top notch – the meat comes from the distinguished Dublin butcher Pat McLoughlin – and I suspect many people will return again and again until they have eaten every cut – rosary; feather; rump; rib eye; onglet; bavette; flank; London broil. Now, isn’t that clever.
Bear, 34/35 South William street www.Twitter.Com/BEARdublin