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Spitalfields takes over from Shanahan’s glory

In the second week of July 2019, the news broke that Shanahan’s pub, nestled on the corner of 25 The Coombe, had been sold. In its place today stands Spitalfields, a “restaurant in a pub”. 

Spitalfields opened on September 19th and on the outside the only thing that differentiates it and Shanahan’s is the signage. However, the interiors are incomparable.

The interior of Spitalfields. Photo by Eibhin Kavanagh.

While the former was a favourite among locals – a typical cosy pub with a function room – Spitalfields is “totally different”, according to Andrea Hussey, who owns the pub with husband Stephen McAllister. 

The couple also own the Pig’s Ear on Nassau Street, and McAllister features as the main-course chef on RTÉ’s The Restaurant. This often leads to customers scratching their heads and wondering ing how they know his face. 

“People come in and they recognise him and they go, ‘Oh, did I go to school with you, or what’s the story?’” Hussey laughed. “It’s because he’s in their living rooms!” 

Spitalfields owner and chef Stephen McAllister. Photo by Eibhin Kavanagh.

Spitalfields offers “restaurant food in a pub setting”, according to its manager Declan Maxwell, with their Cock-a-leeky Pie quickly becoming a signature dish. The helping serves two pies and contains chicken, mushroom, leak and prune. Maxwell compares the restaurant to a country pub, with some people describing their meals as “comfort food”. He said, “It’s quite simple food with a nice twist on it. It’s classical cooking.” 

While Shanahan’s would have traditionally been a pub for locals, Spitalfields is hosting “the mix of both” new and old customers, according to Hussey. They focus more on food than on drinking, however. She said, “The emphasis is more on food, so rather than people coming in here drinking for the night, it’s more come for dinner and have some drinks after.”

Maxwell agreed, hoping people would “spend their whole evening here”. The restaurant has many “little nooks and crannies” including the Sitting Room, where visitors can relax in an armchair and enjoy a drink before or after their meal. 

The restaurant’s name comes from the street behind it, but it’s also the name of a market in London that Hussey and McAllister love to visit. She said, “This is Spitalfields, Dublin!” It opens from 12 noon to 11:30pm, with lunch served until 2pm and dinner between 5pm and 9pm. Prices range from €4.50 for their Vegetable crisps, and extend to €68 for their Côte de Boeuf for 2. Most mains range from about €14 to mid-twenties.

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