Words: Shamim de Brún
Images: George Voronov
One of Everything is a new series by CHAR where we go to the latest spots and try one of everything on the menu. On this week’s One of Everything: Phase One
Phase One is the definition of a hidden gem. You have to know that Blackrock Market is a hub of culinary genius to know where to find it. But once you have you’ll have a hard time keeping it to yourself. It’s the kind of place you’ll want to show off. You only need to spend time grooving here once to know you’ll definitely be back again.
You have to be into wine, or at least open to getting into it, to enjoy Phase One to its fullest extent. A passing wine drinker could walk into the Blackrock Market just before twilight and not leave until six hours later; drinking, snacking, watching the ebb and flow of the Friday night crowd nibbling on small plates and enjoying a lovely summer’s evening.
It’s definitely a spot for cutting your teeth on wine. With an upbeat soundtrack, a standing bar, and a neat list of natural, biodynamic, sustainable and classic wines it’s a first-time winos dream. Small changeable wine lists like these are much more approachable than a hundred pages of options. It also means the staff know the few glasses very well. You can almost see the post-swim brigade here for summer rosés and orange wine in hand.
Phase One is a perfect ‘f*ck it why-not-go-for-a-drink’ spot if you’re in the Blackrock area. Lean into and embrace the French ingenue or Spanish seductress within here by grazing and sipping in the soft lighting of this covered outdoor market. The standing experience brings a joy of its own. It feels more like you’re in the melee. The informality of it makes it great for meeting people and gliding from conversation to conversation.
Leaning against the wall quaffing a pet nat had its modern lived-in charm. Wine should be taken in this easy and in a relaxed fashion more often. Phase One is the ideal little treat-yourself spot with your favourite person.
In a way, you’d almost want to keep it as a special ‘just us’ location. That, however, would take all your self-control because the place is so effortlessly chic you’ll want to story every sip. It is also a great spot to grab a pre-dinner drink or a post-dinner night elongating treat. Especially if you’ve been in for the five o’clock seating.
A firm staff favourite despite only being open a matter of weeks, the Panko Pork is a mainstay worth going out of your way for. Perfectly portioned to share with one other person as part of a few snacks or to have yourself with a side of chips. It’s an approachable dish that taps a boisterous beat. Made from baby pork picked off the bone, it’s shaped into a rectangle, blanched in breadcrumbs, and fried till golden. Lightly seasoned with coriander and mustard, the dish lets the buoyant pork do all the heavy lifting. And it lifts like one would imagine Arnie did back in his Terminator 2 days.
Shout out to the pickled mussels. It was a close tussle between these extravagant innovative moules and the formidable pork. The pork won out this time but if you demanded a recount it could easily have been these bad boys because they packed flavour like the sun packs heat. The octopus dish would have my vote of confidence too. A very tasty well prepared dish. Perfect for the more adventurous nibbler.
Wine bars, in general, are not renowned for their affordability. And that’s fair. They bring a different kind of experience to the table. And with that comes its own expense. However, with the aforementioned ballers, the pickled mussels, coming in under a fiver there is value to be had.
Wine by the glass starts at eight quid and is well-chosen by a sommelier who has a taste level worth following. Their list is ahead of itself. It’s likely the wines on this list here will go on to become more sought after as time passes. Phase One is a place to try it before every natty wine bro is mansplaining to you about how the second coming of Pet Nat is this totally unheard of Portuguese juice.
Poised on the brink of popularity, standing wine bars are very much becoming a thing. Gone are the days when you had to spend a whole heap of hard-earned yoyos on a bottle of plonk. We are now in the golden age of ‘the decent glass’. Passing casual wine drinking has been teetering on the edge of normal for a long time. Now Dublin finally has enough spots slinging solid juice in a relaxed setting to make it a runner.
Phase One has that sweet spot nailed. Perfect for the space they’re in. This is more casual than their neighbour, the restaurant the team made their name on. It may come as a surprise that this wine bar, raucous as it is, comes from the same team behind the more reserved two Michelin starred restaurant Liath.
The tunes are groovy, and everything is prepared in sight giving the kitchen movement and making it even more entertaining. They’ve got the right balance of effortlessly cool and attention to detail. It’s a pop-in-and-pop-out space; if you’re having a browse through Blackrock, you’d pop in for a sup. You could stay for the evening or just pass through. Either way, it’s going to be a busy spot this summer.
The staff creates the atmosphere. Sure, music, food, and drinks have a hand in it. But a place lives and dies on the knifes edge of the intangible, what people like to call vibes. Phase One brings the loving care and affection the staff have for each other and the work through to the customer.
It’s easy to while away an hour or two by yourself chatting to the team. Any customer will enjoy learning about Papa Jo’s recipes or hearing about how they go on foraging trips together to see what they can gather from the wilds of Wicklow and bring to Blackrock by way of pickling, fermenting or serving frsh.
Elsewhere on Char: Char’s Guide to Dublin 7