As I didnt want to get rained on at Taste of Dublin this year, I left it until the very last minute to get tickets. So late that the session I wanted to go to was sold out. After trawling the interwebs for tickets I gave up in favour of trying to book dinner somewhere fancy instead. The first place I tried was Conrad Gallagher's newish place Salon des Saveurs and was more than a little surprised when there was a table available.
This is not your random last minute Saturday night out place for dinner. Its probably more like something you plan a month ahead and I suspect if half of Dublin hadnt been in Iveagh gardens there wouldnt have been a hope of getting a table.
I had read the reviews but had only spoken to one person who had been there so wasnt really sure what to expect. So along we went. There are two sittings on a Saturday night - 7 until 9 and then from 9 on, so everyone was arriving pretty much the same time as us. Everyone gets their menus and then choses which of the 5 menus to go for and then whether they want to pair the wine or just buy a glass/bottle to go along with it. Menu 1 (€26 - amazingly good value) also has a €26 wine selection to go with it. Each person at the table must eat the same menu which I could imagine being difficult if you are there as a group of 6 (like the bunch of ladies at a table near us) or if you're like me and want to make sure the person with you can share some of their food!
So, on to the food.
Pea Emulsion Soup
Prawn, Sweet Pimentos, Garden Tarragon
The pea emulsion soup was so fantastic that it was slightly infuriating that there was only a teaspoon to eat it with. The prawn sat on a wee leaf of spinach with a lovely buttery sauce (an almost bearnaise maybe?) with some sweet peppers. Thinking back I really shouldnt have held back, I should have licked that little plate
Wasabi Cured Salmon “Pastrami”
Pickled Pear, Ginger, Soy, Dill Oil
This was probably my least favourite of the 5 dishes as I felt that there were far too many tastes on the plate and maybe a little too little salmon to mix them with. The salmon came with 4 little piles of pear, radish, ginger and wasabi. The soy that I read from the menu now was poured on by the waiter which I felt was a bit of a pity as I would much have preferred the salmon without the soy.
Risotto of Soya Beans
Calamari, Chorizo, Chilli, Rocket
This next course was fab, perfectly cooked buttery risotto with a nice spicy chorizo, tender calamari and crunch soya beans.
Daube of Beef
Celeriac Mousseline, Salsfy Chips, Pearl Onions
Butternut, Parsley Hollandaise
Looking around at this point we received the biggest of main courses and definitely had a few people looking jealously on as we devoured the beef. The beef, such tender melt in your mouth beef that I could almost compose a song for it (really, although I doubt you would want me to sing it for you). I barely tasted the rest of this course such was the amazingness of the beef.
Tasting of Apple
Apple Crumble, Apple Soufflé, Apple Brûlée
“Apple Tart”, Apple Ice-Cream
On this one there was some plate licking and its the only course I got a photo of (however grainy). From right to left (or in my case least favourite to favourite) - Apple Brulee (just not a fan), Apple ice-cream (for some reason I thought the menu said cinnamon so wasnt what I was expecting), Apple tart (more like a rich tea with apple sauce), Apple crumble (getting there), Apple Souffle (hallelujah!)
This was definitely the best value meal Ive had this year in Dublin as the two of us were fed, watered and had a glass of wine each for €74 before tip (although including a service charge they throw on). Annoyingly they dont take cards (of any kind) just cash and cheque (who has a chequebook any more?) so bring plenty of cash if you go as its a good walk to the nearest bank machine. The sommelier was charming, but our waiter a little forgetful and wasnt too good with wines (he told us that Macon Village was a type of grape) but still very good all the same.
Will I be back? Without a doubt although with small groups only as I can only imagine the arguments that might brew over chosing the menu otherwise.