Bear is the new offering from Jo'burger's Joe Macken and Jamie Heaslip located in the former home of Crackbird on South William Street. They operate a no reservations policy so we figured we'd have a decent shot of getting a table in the awkward time slot we had for dinner before our early evening cinema reservation.
Bear is very simply laid out with stools, low hanging bare bulbs and bare tables except for prickly potted cacti. It was a little too cool for school for my tastes - especially as I am somewhat vertically challenged and hate sitting on a stool when my feet don't reach the floor - but I could see how the low lighting could be atmospheric in the evening.
Bear is primarily a steak restaurant and the choice of cuts was extensive and included ones that were unfamiliar to me such as Pope's Eye and larger cuts that would feed up to 4 people. Other options included tasty offerings such as lacquered pork chops and homemade chorizo but we both decided to go with the 8oz rump steak cooked medium rare. We had spied on the way in that the side dish portions were quite large so we chose two to share. The million dollar fries, chunks of gratin dauphinoise that have been fried until crisp, and the horseradish slaw. We accompanied this with a selection of 3 sauces: red wine tarragon butter, barbeque and chimichuri (a herb oil) and finished off by ordering a rhubarb lemonade and a lime ginger spritzer.
The steak looked delicious and, as is evident from the picture above, I milled in to it as soon as it arrived! It was perfectly cooked and well seasoned. Of our 3 sauces, the red wine butter was my favourite as it was unusual and best complemented the other sides we had ordered. The million dollar fries are an incredibly bold but inspired idea and I think I'd happily go back just for them - crispy outside, soft inside, probably incorporating huge amounts of butter and cream - yum! A special mention has to go to our drinks which were good value at €2.95 for a HUGE jam jar. I had the rhubarb lemonade which showcased this seasonal veg at it's best and the lime ginger spritzer with zingy and refreshing, delicious!
Overall, the food at Bear was tasty, well conceived and reasonably priced. The service, however, wasn't great. It wasn't slow so much as very disorganised which was puzzling as the restaurant wasn't half full at the time. Despite this, I shall be back to perch myself on one of the stools the next time I fancy a good value carnivorous feast.
Dinner of 2 steaks, 2 sides, 3 sauces and 2 soft drinks came to €51.80 excl. service
*Update: I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email directly from Joe Macken in response to this review both thanking me for the positive comments and looking for clarification around the less positive ones so that they could be actioned and improved upon. I feel this deserves a special mention as it shows proper use of social media in running a business and a commitment to improving your customer's experience. Fair play Joe!
34/35 South William Street