Restaurant Review: Canal Bank Café

The appearance of a very special guest was enough to make a trip to the Canal Bank Café worthwhile, writes Elaine LaveryThe Canal Bank Café on Upper Leeson Street has long since been one of my top places to eat in Dublin. Being the younger, hotter and all-round better sister of Tribeca in Ranelagh, it has always done cool, laidback chic effortlessly.The Canal Bank does a plumper, juicier, saucier version of the famous chicken wings with celery and blue cheese sauce. It does posh fish and chips with mushy peas and top-notch hamburgers. Also on offer is a great range of salads, as well as offering substantial mains. Desserts are made on site and devouring them is a definite must. The point of the trip was to coax the family out of the house after a week of encumbering snow and three days of turkey and ham sambos.Craving nothing else, three of us opted for the irresistible chicken wings as a main. We also had fish and chips and a confit duck leg with potato, sausage and chestnut stuffing, roast celeriac, orange and port jus for the only adventurous diner of the night. For starters, two French onion soups and a token basket of chicken wings were ordered for the two having a main course. Abstaining from a starter myself, the wings were unscrupulously gobbled up as were the soups, though one of the soup’s recipients deemed it unusually spicy and not entirely traditional.I was taken aback to be disappointed when the mains arrived. Two of the baskets of chicken wings were perfect, but Murphy’s Law dictated that mine were cold and dry.I immediately pointed this problem out to the waiter, who made a rather rude response that he had just brought all three fresh from the kitchen. This was clearly not the case and dutifully, he changed them (not before spitting on them maybe) but the difference was noticeable. Cutting corners like this gets a big black mark in my book. Pondering whether I would ever be able to overcome the ordeal, my night took a 180 when who walked in but Mr Colin Farrell of Hollywood fame.After Christmas, I was going to be healthy and not order dessert, but it would have been rude not to with that sweet bit of eye candy in the corner of my eye. Having tried most of the desserts before, I opted for the exceptional cookies-and-cream-baked cheesecake. It has a particularly tart flavour achieved, I would guess, by including sour cream in the mix.Being broke after Christmas, thankfully I was not the bill payer, but prices are listed on the website. Encountering the manager before leaving, he made amends for his rudeness. I hope he realised that he was mistaken, but perhaps it was simply that he too had a skip in his step after being graced with the presence of a star.