Dublin is on form. There is an energy and excitement on the street and in restaurants, and a palpable renewed optimism and confidence after a tough few years of hard recession. As Dublin gears up for its New Year Festival, a 3 day event from the 30th December to the 1st January rich with music, stories, a procession of light and light projections and fun, it is only fair that you have a fresh list for eating to refer to. Have a great time!
I had one of my favourite lunches this year at The Greenhouse. I returned for the tasting menu and found it sublime. There were many highlights including a suckling pigs head croqeutte (made from 3 week old Spanish pigs) served with a Korean pepper emulsion, divine jamon with a decadent dusting of truffle, an excellent sika deer tartare with a covering of beetroot, douglas fir roasted monkfish and that famous dessert of theirs, the passion fruit soufflé with white chocolate sauce. The 5 course tasting menu is €90 and there are matched flights of wine available, this time I opted for a couple of wines by the glass from an excellent selection. The set lunch is a terrific bargain too and you can read about in my last report from Dublin.
Forest Avenue is a little out of town but it is an essential visit when in Dublin, based on my recent terrific lunch. We had the set menu (which was an incredible bargain at €22 for 2 courses or €27 for 3). Pressed duck leg with salad of quince and celeriac, hazelnut and grated foie gras was divine, the richness of the duck offset beautifully by the bright decadent salad. I had the fish for mains, the hake with salsify, mussels, braised leek and cauliflower, which was as perfect a seafood platter as I could hope to get. Dessert was a date pudding with brown sugar custard and vanilla ice cream.
My friend, (who had the salad of muscat pumpkin, clementine, burrata, beetroot and tardiva, followed by the lamb with gratin of swede, carrots, brussel sprout and pangratatto) declared it the best meal that he had ever had in Ireland. I thought it excellent and a fine example of the new Irish contemporary cooking that is bubbling in Dublin and throughout the country, influenced by time abroad and our own wonderful produce and heritage. The wine choices were lovely, we had a bright Albarino.
It feels like Delahunt was previously a bar. I took a seat at the counter and had a wonderful supper of confident Irish cooking. Sika deer reared its head once more, and once again in a lovely tartare. I couldn’t resist it. Potato dumpling with caramelised mushroom broth, kale salsa verde and crispy egg yolk was joyful and rich, I loved every bite. I ordered from a €50 set menu, but I had no room for dessert as this was coming to the end of my trip, but I will return, and I will visit the new bar which they have just opened above, and which will have a snack menu. (They took the price of the dessert off the bill, which was very kind of them).
I went to Klaw twice and would have gone again if I could have managed it. Serving predominantly Irish seafood, occasionally the lobsters come from North America if Irish lobsters are in short supply, and the salmon is smoked in Scotland, but when I visited the lobster were from Dun Laoighaire and the oysters were all from Ireland, including my home town. They do a terrific flaming of the oysters too, I had a brilliant one topped with bacon and worcester sauce flamed until cooked. An idea I will be trying at home. I loved the lobster roll (from memory, €12), and there is a good craft drinks list and some nice wine choices.
I stayed at two new hotels this time around, and would heartily recommend both.
The Dean Hotel
The Dean is the new funky sibling of the The Clarence Hotel in Temple Bar. On Harcourt St, not far from Stephen’s Green and near many places where you will want to eat and drink. The Dean is a sharp dresser. The mini bar is housed in a bright mini Smeg fridge, there is a record player and Marshall speaker in the room, and the room is contemporary and comfortable.
Breakfast is served in Sophie’s which is on the top floor, looking out over the roof tops of Dublin. There is an external terrace too. There is a downside, being very centrally located, it is near a nightclub which can be loud, however they supply terrific ear plugs for that and I wouldn’t let that stop me staying there agin.
I stayed in a SupeRoom, there are smaller and larger available, and prices are excellent, starting at €117 for a smaller ModPod and €137 for the SupeRoom that I stayed in (checking for tonight on their website). Do book in advance, there was a waiting list for some of the nights on my stay.
The Merrion Hotel
The Merrion is one of of the Leading Hotels of the World and one of the finest in Dublin. Contained in four Georgian houses from the 1760’s, it is centrally, located a short walk from Baggot St and Stephen’s Green. The Merrion is comfortable and very friendly, with doormen who greet and help on arrival, and very helpful staff within.
The hotel is decorated with Irish fabrics and antiques and there are elegant fire lit drawing rooms and a bar, which has a nice list of wines by the glass. With a wonderful and extensive art collection, the Merrion also offers an Art Afternoon Tea based around this, which was unfortunately fully booked on my visit.
I stayed in a very spacious and bright deluxe king room in the Georgian Main House. A luxury, and highly recommended for a uniquely Dublin experience.
With thanks to Tourism Ireland, who supported my trip.