Dublin and Ireland's only 2 Micheln starred restaurant serving delicate dishes with some genuine hits in the mix of flavours served in full, French confidence
This was a very pleasant menu and there is no question as to the technical skill and care that went in to the tasting menu (i.e. it is very worthy of its 2nd star in my opinion). All the dishes were carefully prepared and there was an element of refinement in all the dishes that were presented. Service was a little too self-assured but this was a very good meal and it was nice to meet Patrick Guilbaud himself who, in his suit came to say hello to all the tables present.
The tomato, bacon and onion bread was subtle, the amuse bouche of beetroot mousse with curry oil and supporting curry soup was heavenly and the suckling pig with foie gras (more to follow on that below) was a delight. The ravioli of lobster was superbly balanced with the softness of the coconut oil but I thought the curled sole and hare courses, although technically sound were only clever rather than wonderful. The mashed potato was pointed out to me to be the best mash available anywhere in the world and although very nice, I’m afraid this was a mistaken claim as the creamed mash in Joel Robuchon’s establishments is without doubt better.
Thankfully the marvellous choices of chutneys and cheeses put things back on track and dessert was highly skilled but unmemorable. All in all it was a strong performance on the food and would recommend to anyone booking well in advance of a visit to Dublin if you want a definitely pleasing food experience whilst over there.
Where the restaurant did not earn many points was on two counts of service. Firstly, I was escorted to the restaurant to find all the staff being briefed making me quite uncomfortable (as was the lad who escorted me) and so I took up his offer to be taken back to the bar and ordered a G & T until they were ready – I do not know whether the chap on the door knew the waiting staff were still being briefed – hopefully this was not the case and a minor accident.
The second was on the suckling pig course: this was not actually on the tasting menu but because I couldn’t have the scallop that was (allergy) I asked if it could be replaced by the suckling pig – the answer came back as yes. However, when the course came, the confident French waiter described the dish in a fast and impersonal way as “Croquettes of suckling pig, pancetta, fried quail egg and foie gras” to which I said, “Thank you; where is the foie gras?”, noticing immediately that it was not present. As the waiter knew he was well and truly busted he paused, stumbled and quickly went away and then came back to say that because it was on the tasting menu it was not to have foie gras. The immediate image in my head was George McFly from Back To The Future saying: “Errr, now BIFF – don’t CON me……!”.
I obviously pointed out this was not mentioned and had it been I wouldn’t have ordered it etc etc, all logical stuff to basically say, go away and get me a small piece immediately as it’s perfectly possible and you agreed in the first place anyway. This they did, but I mention this in such detail, as the situation (when there clearly was room to manoeuvre) demonstrated that the restaurant was a little too full of itself, which is an unhealthy attitude. The general tone of the voice at the end of the booking and reservation line would also support this.
Overall, apart from a somewhat over-confident approach of the staff who seem to be in a comfort zone of perceived safety as the country’s top restaurant, I thought the food was highly refined with some lovely moments but sits not in the top, but in the middle quadrant of the 2 Michelin family. A highly enjoyable meal though.
Food Grade: 84%
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