Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Dublin's Best Restaurants


Recommended Posts

Irish Times restaurant critic Tom Doorley awarded stars to his top restaurants in an Irish Times supplement yesterday.

Five stars

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud click here for eG Forums thread

Four stars

Chapter One click here for eG Forums thread

L’Ecrivain click here for eG Forums thread

Three and a half stars

Thornton’s click here for eG Forums thread

Three stars

The Mermaid Café

Mint click here for eG Forums thread

Town Bar and Grill

The Winding Stair

Two and a half stars

Caviston’s

L’Gueuleton

Mackerel

Poulot’s

Two stars

Eden

Harvey Nichols First Floor

Peploe’s

One star

Brasserie 66

Frank’s

The Port House

Ely Wine Bar and Café

Shanahan’s

What do you think?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A predictably useless list. His preaching about local food, clever and innovative cooking, etc is in contrary to the kind words he writes about some Dublin restaurants. L’Ecrivain is certainly not better than Mint and Ely may have a good wine list but the wine service is terrible and the food rubbish. This system of offering half stars and full stars gives him the potential to include 10 distinct categories, enough I presume not to offend old and new friends. This sort of malarkee makes the Michelin system worth all the fuss.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

L’Ecrivain is certainly not better than Mint and Ely may have a good wine list but the wine service is terrible and the food rubbish.

I absolutely agree.

This system of offering half stars and full stars gives him the potential to include 10 distinct categories, enough I presume not to offend old and new friends. This sort of malarkee makes the Michelin system worth all the fuss.

Interesting point, but I think the half star is a good idea. The only logical alternative would be to list the restaurants in order of merit (as opposed to alphabetically), otherwise the list would be potentially very short... and a bit like Michelin!

I think it's hard not to be predictable on these lists and you're always going to get a sense of the critic's personal preferences (this is the sort of thing that sells newspapers). Doorley is not into "new cookery", so I think Mint actually did well to be rated so high from his perspective (I bet the Tom Aikens comment is doing Dylan McGrath's head in!). And he included Thornton's this time, which he left off the Eating in Ireland list about 2 years ago.

Welcome to eG Forums btw.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

L’Ecrivain is certainly not better than Mint and Ely may have a good wine list but the wine service is terrible and the food rubbish.

I absolutely agree.

This system of offering half stars and full stars gives him the potential to include 10 distinct categories, enough I presume not to offend old and new friends. This sort of malarkee makes the Michelin system worth all the fuss.

Interesting point, but I think the half star is a good idea. The only logical alternative would be to list the restaurants in order of merit (as opposed to alphabetically), otherwise the list would be potentially very short... and a bit like Michelin!

I think it's hard not to be predictable on these lists and you're always going to get a sense of the critic's personal preferences (this is the sort of thing that sells newspapers). Doorley is not into "new cookery", so I think Mint actually did well to be rated so high from his perspective (I bet the Tom Aikens comment is doing Dylan McGrath's head in!). And he included Thornton's this time, which he left off the Eating in Ireland list about 2 years ago.

Welcome to eG Forums btw.

My concern comes from Doorley's own personal food preferences which are centred on innovative cooking, referring to a better use of ingredients. He is on record complaining about the abuse of salad leafs, the unseasonable use of key ingredients etc, yet most of the restaurants in the list serve the antithesis of the preferences he prescribes to. Maybe food commentators are by wanting to remain true to their subject inevitably going to be tainted when talking about restaurants. It's the "gin and tonic problem". With lime and I'm a carbon loving demon, without it life is anodyne. For an example of this read Lucinda O'Sullivan review of Thorton's.

Personal perhaps but ultimately useless and to a visitor it will only serve to frustrate and disappoint.

Thanks for welcome. :biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Corinna-I missed this. What was his judging criteria? Is it based on food alone? Does value, service, wine etc come into it...maybe a Spar recommendation or two??

I think this is going to be a recurring theme but what what the hell is Mint doing in with the other trio of three star establishments..fine restaurants and all that they are.

What was the Tom Aikens comment?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Corinna-I missed this.  What was his judging criteria?  Is it based on food alone?  Does value, service, wine etc come into it...maybe a Spar recommendation or two??

He doesn’t go into too much detail. He makes the point that the Michelin system is “a bit too exacting and excludes so many places that do great food, presumably because they demand that everything is simply spot-on,” and says that he’s covering “a range of styles and experiences, not just the top end.”

So there are mentions of great service in places like Guilbaud’s, Chapter One, L’Ecrivain and Thornton’s (the starred places), as well as the food. “One of the best meals of my life was the tasting menu at L’Ecrivain,” he says and goes on to say that Michelin is “rather mingy” not to award it a second star. He suggests that perhaps if they got rid of the piano, their chance of promotion might improve.

Hmmm…. with the tiny bathroom facilities and the dependence on bistro desserts like crème brûlée and chocolate fondant (they were on last November, and November of the previous year, I don’t know about now), I’d be more worried about him losing the only star he has. Derry Clarke is a talented chef, and by all accounts, an incredibly nice guy, but I think it’s time that he started thinking about getting a full meal on the plate. Yes, most Irish people want spuds with their meal, and I accept that he would lose a lot of custom if he took away the feeds of potatoes and vegetables (the Irish palate is discussed quite a bit on the Thornton’s thread, click here)…. but surely he can work the protein, veg and carb components into one graphically plated dish, square or otherwise. I just think it’s a bit of a cop out serving them separately. And not very Michelin either. The L’Ecrivain thread is here.

What was the Tom Aikens comment?

He says that Dylan McGrath (of Mint, thread here) is “a very talented chef with a lot of ambition and an exuberant, almost over-the-top style which he seems to have picked up from Tom Aikens in London,” which is fair comment except McGrath is so determined to be his own man that comparisons with Aikens wreck his head. Of course McGrath has learnt a lot from Aikens (the whole point of sticking it out for 3 years, longer than most), but his dishes do evolve, and I know that one dish I had there when it just went on the menu had been tweaked and improved substantially when I had it again on the tasting menu 2 or 3 weeks later. He mentions that the dining room may be a bit too small but says that “his food is definitely worth eating.”

I think this is going to be a recurring theme but what what the hell is Mint doing in with the other trio of three star establishments..fine restaurants and all that they are.

I think you’re right… but for the sake of debate, hopefully someone will disagree!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe food commentators are by wanting to remain true to their subject inevitably going to be tainted when talking about restaurants. It's the "gin and tonic problem". With lime and I'm a carbon loving demon, without it life is anodyne. For an example of this read Lucinda O'Sullivan review of Thorton's.

I didn't see her review of Thornton's. Was it recent? What did she say?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A predictably useless list.

That pretty much covers my opinion on this. I'm really not sure that I trust Tom Doorley at the high-end level, or anywhere else for that matter. He's obviously not a million miles away with his choices, but his breakdown into stars makes virtually no sense. Of course, far better information is available on eGullet!

Si

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm really not sure that I trust Tom Doorley at the high-end level, or anywhere else for that matter. He's obviously not a million miles away with his choices, but his breakdown into stars makes virtually no sense. Of course, far better information is available on eGullet!

Si

So what would you put on your list?

BTW, going back to my earlier "getting it all on the one plate" point, I was in Chapter One at the weekend and the potatoes (croquette) were served separately. Somehow it's OK with their style of dining, although I don't think that one type of potato should be expected to go with each dish, be it croquette or baby potatoes. I can't remember if this was always the case (I know there was always optional extra vegetable).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm really not sure that I trust Tom Doorley at the high-end level, or anywhere else for that matter. He's obviously not a million miles away with his choices, but his breakdown into stars makes virtually no sense. Of course, far better information is available on eGullet!

Si

So what would you put on your list?

BTW, going back to my earlier "getting it all on the one plate" point, I was in Chapter One at the weekend and the potatoes (croquette) were served separately. Somehow it's OK with their style of dining, although I don't think that one type of potato should be expected to go with each dish, be it croquette or baby potatoes. I can't remember if this was always the case (I know there was always optional extra vegetable).

Funnily enough I was there last Wednesday and I got the croquettes as well. I was surprised to see them served with everything. Still, I was very impressed with the food (early bird) at Chapter One. Our group was very well looked-after and we all ate very well. I hadn't been for a while, and I didn't know quite what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. The sommelier deserves a special mention, and coincidentally he was interviewed in the same Irish Times supplement being discussed here.

As regards the list, I think TD does an okay job, it's his star ratings I don't agree with. You know my feelings on Mint and Thornton's already, and I think it's fairly perverse that he reckons l'Ecrivain deserves a second star. It's obvious to me that TD likes a particular kind of cooking, and he always seems quick to knock anything that has even the merest hint of what he considers pretension. That's a shame, since a lot of modern cooking gets unnecessarily tarred. I also dislike the slightly snide tone to some of his comments (Mint, Thornton's, even Shanahan's, though on balance I agree with him there!)

Off the top of my head, Dax and Pearl would probably get a place on my list (as might the newly opened Alexis if the list stretched to Dun Laoghaire) and it's interesting that there's nothing remotely ethnic here. It's not a bad list for places to get good food, but it contains nothing surprising, and the very fine gradation (half-stars) seems a bit silly to me too. Of course, while it's a silly and useless list for people who hang around here, it might be useful enough to the average mere mortal. :biggrin:

Si

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also dislike the slightly snide tone to some of his comments (Mint, Thornton's, even Shanahan's, though on balance I agree with him there!)

But isn’t that the point? “Snide” is good when you agree with it! :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

As you say, these lists are useful for readers of the newspaper, because not everyone eats out regularly. The fact that it is predictable… is predictable IMO.

I think most restaurant critics would come up with a similar list for a similar audience, but the order would vary. And every one of them would show their personal bias. I mean, if you just don’t like avant garde food, and you’ve made it quite clear in your reviews in the past, how can you step back and be objective about it when it comes to doing a list? I’m not saying this because I think that his assessment is right, it’s just because it’s exactly what I’d expect, and every food critic brings their own personal stamp to their reviews. Getting a reaction, either positive or negative is good for a food critic. At least Tom Doorley has a very good idea of what food should taste like and he’s been at this game for quite a long time, so I think his benchmarks are dependable, even if his taste in food is quite specific.

However…

I think the format could have been better. Three categories based on price point (which is of most interest to the punter) would provide a better structure for assessment: top end top five, mid price top ten, cheap eats top ten. That would also allow for the inclusion of the ethnic places, although I would have expected to see Jaipur there anyway.

What jars with me…

I agree with the earlier point upthread. Mint and Mermaid in the same category? Only under the letter “m” in my book. They’re poles apart and Mermaid is in there principally because of its good value lunch… ehem, screaming, glaring comparison with Mint which is by far the best value lunch in town!

Caviston’s and L’Gueuleton are easily on a par with Town Bar.

And I have yet to be converted to Ely. The fact that most critics seem to love it makes me think that it’s a two-tier service place. Punters have a very different experience. His reason for inclusion is weak as he cites the wine as being the main draw, which would be fine if it was set up like a wine bar and it was easy to try different wines by the glass. But the bar area is tiny. And the restaurant area is always very busy, more focused on ordering your food and wine in one go (with very little advice), so misses out on what could be unique about the place. Even though the food is mostly organic and well sourced, it is just plain boring and under-seasoned. That said, I have yet to visit their CHQ outpost.

Funnily enough I was there last Wednesday and I got the croquettes as well. I was surprised to see them served with everything. Still, I was very impressed with the food (early bird) at Chapter One. Our group was very well looked-after and we all ate very well. I hadn't been for a while, and I didn't know quite what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. The sommelier deserves a special mention, and coincidentally he was interviewed in the same Irish Times supplement being discussed here.

Did you have much difficulty getting the pre-theatre dinner booking? I agree, it's amazing value.

On the croquette potatoes, interesting to see that you had them too. They were beautifully made (delicate and fluffy, not gluey), but certainly not the most suitable for my dish (sea bream). Did you notice a heavy hand with the salt? I did on two occasions, and I generally find dishes underseasoned. There was also an unexpected truffle oil attack... and I thought I had dodged it by avoiding the tasting menu which had two truffle mentions which I'm sure were delivered with the gastro poisoned arrow! It looked good value at €85.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And I have yet to be converted to Ely.  [snip]  That said, I have yet to visit their CHQ outpost.

It won't change your mind!

Did you have much difficulty getting the pre-theatre dinner booking? I agree, it's amazing value. 

On the croquette potatoes, interesting to see that you had them too.  They were beautifully made (delicate and fluffy, not gluey), but certainly not the most suitable for my dish (sea bream).  Did you notice a heavy hand with the salt?  I did on two occasions, and I generally find dishes underseasoned.  There was also an unexpected truffle oil attack... and I thought I had dodged it by avoiding the tasting menu which had two truffle mentions which I'm sure were delivered with the gastro poisoned arrow!  It looked good value at €85.

Ah Corinna, I do enjoy your truffle-oil hatred. :biggrin: It didn't feature anywhere in my meal, from what I can remember, although champagne pre, several wines during, and several brandies afterwards have dulled my recollection somewhat. I didn't notice an especially heavy hand with the salt either, but that may have been a function of what I ordered (duck sausage followed by slow cooked beef). Pre-theatre wasn't too difficult to come by, but we reserved 4 weeks in advance, and it was a Wednesday evening. In any case, all of us (work colleagues, some more foodie than others) really enjoyed our evening, and booked a lunch on July 4th before we left. :biggrin::biggrin:

Getting back to Tom D, maybe I was a little harsh. It's not a bad list, it was just the rankings of Mint especially, and Thornton's, L'Gueuleton and Mermaid to a lesser extent that annoyed me.

Si

Edited by Simon_S (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No Simon... I didn't think you were harsh. You should mediate between TD and McGrath and Thornton!

Truffle oil! :angry: Yes... I'm on a mission to rid the country of the outrageous stuff. It should be sued for bringing the good name of a truffle (which it has no relation to at all) into disrepute. Hope you'll join me in my cause. Don't mind being laughed at!

Outing truffle oil users.... now that would be an interesting list, it's getting a bit long these days. I see Alexis Bar and Grill dip in, and I haven't tried the truffle rissotto at Balzac yet (was quite impressed with my visit... before the TD piece), so I'm hoping that it's black truffle and not the petrochemical oil offender that they're using.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You should mediate between TD and McGrath and Thornton!

Good lord, what a trio. Not sure I'd be up to the task there!!

Truffle oil!  :angry:  Yes... I'm on a mission to rid the country of the outrageous stuff.  It should be sued for bringing the good name of a truffle (which it has no relation to at all) into disrepute.  Hope you'll join me in my cause.  Don't mind being laughed at!

Outing truffle oil users.... now that would be an interesting list, it's getting a bit long these days.  I see Alexis Bar and Grill dip in, and I haven't tried the truffle rissotto at Balzac yet (was quite impressed with my visit... before the TD piece), so I'm hoping that it's black truffle and not the petrochemical oil offender that they're using.

Yes, I've only this second written a review of Alexis, and I mention the truffle oil. It doesn't bother me nearly as much as it bothers you, but I'm happy to join you in your cause. :biggrin::biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting to see that Pete Hamill did a piece on Dublin for Gourmet magazine. The focus was more on the mood of the city and how it has changed, but at the end there were some restaurant recommendations by Colman Andrews:

- Chapter One which combines “French finesse with the finest Irish raw materials” and a mention that it just got a Michelin star

- Ely Winebar for wine and simple food

- King Sitric for fish

- The Lord Edward for fish

- Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud where the “contemporary French food is consistently delicious”

- Shanahan’s for their “exceptional Irish oysters, smoked salmon and aged Angus beef”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Another list...

This time it's from the Irish Independent with Paolo Tullio's personal favourite top 30 in the world. He qualifies his Dublin choice by mentioning that they will probably match everyone else's and that he believes that "they'd be outstanding restaurants wherever they were."

So no surprises. They're not in order of merit... but strangely, they would be alphabetical if Mint was moved up

Chapter One

L'Ecrivain

Patrick Guilbaud's

Thornton's

Mint

Outside Dublin, he includes three:

MacNean House and Restaurant. A good choice IMO. I was recently at the relaunch and there is some lovely cooking going on here

Dunbrody House. Click here for the thread

Wineport Lodge. The choice is probably based on the fact that The Restaurant series was filmed here. He does make the point that it is the location factor that really adds to its appeal

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No surprises in Dublin alright, although it's good to see Mint included with the other "Big 4". I've seen mixed reactions to Mint on other websites recently, so I'm still not sure that the punters are impressed, but ultimately I don't care! I still think it's great, and recent dinners in other serious restaurants internationally have persuaded me once again that the man deserves at least one star for his efforts.

I'm not sure about Paulo's suggestions outside of the big smoke. Dunbrody is certainly good, but it's a bit of a stretch to say it would be outstanding wherever it was. As for Wineport, well, I really really enjoyed a weekend there, but the food wasn't the highlight, and nor was the wine list. The ability to totter out onto the lakeshore when the eating becomes too much is certainly a bonus, but I wouldn't consider this a truly great restaurant.

Is there a link to the full article, Corinna?

Si

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Simon, for some reason I can’t find the link to the piece, maybe there’s a time lag before they are put up. All of the Independent Group’s papers are accessible if you register (free) on unison.ie.

The list, as I said, is a very personal one and makes no claims to be a World’s Top 30. So it’s more a list that should be read with the dulcet tones of Julio Iglesias crooning “For all the girls I’ve loved before” in the background. It’s more happy memories in tone. Which is how Paolo Tullio generally pitches his pieces... a happy man who always sees the positive side of things. And that’s his niche. Mind you, he gave Balzac 5/5 for food last Saturday, which is pushing the good will too far IMO. It’s certainly a lot better than La Stampa (will start a thread when I’ve got a chance), but it ain’t no 5!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, I couldn't find the link on unison.ie either, but I thought I must be missing something. I'll keep an eye out for it.

I quite enjoy Tullio's positivity, as that's the way I try to approach restaurants myself. Still, sometimes he could be a little more discerning. He reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Homer becomes a restaurant critic.

Si

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I quite enjoy Tullio's positivity, as that's the way I try to approach restaurants myself. Still, sometimes he could be a little more discerning. He reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Homer becomes a restaurant critic.

In a nutshell :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Occasion Restaurants

One Pico

Chapter One

Thorntons

L'Ecrivain

Mint

Guildbauds

Shanaghans

Frere Jacques

Saturday Night Restaurants

Town Bar & Grill

The Mermaid

L'Gueleton*

Locks (When it opens)

Bang

Mackerel*

La Mere Zou

Pearl

Eden

Browns

Midweek Restaurants

The Chameleon

Saba

Enoteca Della Langhe*

Bar Italia*

Odessa

The Winding Stair

The Elephant & Castle*

Il Bacharro

Something To Eat

Gruel

Café Bar Deli

The Good World

The Temple Bar Market on Sat

Aya

Blazing Salads

Café Irie

Soup Dragon

Panem

Something To Eat & Drink

La Cave

Ely

Market Bar

Grogans

The South William

This is my personal list and mental categorisation of Dublin's restaurants. It is by no means exhaustive and there are many places that fit into several catogories, and I am sure I have left loads of beloved places out.

The asterisk denotes a place that could also fit into the categoryafter it.

I think most people categorise restaurants by function and atmosphere combined with price, and really a star rating system only works to differentiate the good from the very good, and the excellent, rather than in Dublins case, where you have several layers of restaurant categories.

One method I saw of rating restaurants in one of these threads was to use the homework grading system, A, B+, B- etc, which I thought worked really well, because it gave an indication of the quality of the restaurant and didn't compare price points. It show that the restaurant has achieved what it set out to do, whether that be PG, with exclusive haut cuisine, or blazing salads... they could both get A's and deserve them equally.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting list minichef.

I agree on Mackerel. As it happens, I was there for dinner last night. Which is probably just as well, as Roisin Ingle mentioned it in her column in today’s Irish Times magazine, saying what exceptionally good service it has, so I’m sure the bookings will be rolling in. Being upstairs over Bewleys in Grafton St, it has been a little bit off the radar.

In fact her column was mostly a rant about Dublin restaurants, bad service and greedy prices. She mentioned that she had a particularly bad experience in a “newish restaurant that critics have been raging about” which she didn’t name but offered to reveal by email (roisiningle@irish-times.ie), where it took 45 minutess to be served a bottle of sparkling water. The table was booked for 9.30pm, they didn’t get seated until an hour later, so they were eating their main courses at 11pm.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

A bit of news on Mackerel.

It's closing this coming Sunday. The guy on the phone there had no idea why or whether it is going to open again in the near future. It appears that Cafe Bar Deli downstairs will continue to trade.

Shame.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

And another closure...

Fayruz, the brilliant little Lebanese shawarma restaurant on Middle Abbey Street has closed and the Algerian owner is now running a Chinese buffet-style restaurant. No... I didn't try it. I asked him why he had changed direction and he said that he was refused permission to trade late, and with kebabs, you need to be open in the early hours of the morning to make your money.

Gutted.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was never that fond of mackerel but it is a pity it is gone. The got their saucing wrong on most occasions i felt and rarely let the fish speak for itself (something which cavistons do perfectly).

Just want to also comment on Franks which doesnt deserve to be on any such list imo. I accept they have good burgers and quite good desserts but they are overpriced and make a dreadful croque monsieur with crappy supermarket ham. Staff are not particularly efficient or friendly and after eating there two times I decided not to bother going back ever again (maybe things have improved in the last year or two but I doubt it).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...