Monday, 14 June 2010

Salon des Saveurs review

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.


  1. Great review Deirdre! I've been eyeing up the Salon for a while now but kept on hearing mixed things. Mostly from people who went there expecting a meal like in Darwin's I imagine. Definitely have to work on getting in there sharpish! :-)

  2. I find it somewhat weird and suspicious that they don't take plastic - are they laundering money or something??

    I had a taste of one of their dishes at Taste of Dub and it was by far the best one I had all day.

    Looking forward to a meal there.

  3. @elly - this was exactly my thinking, especially given that they dont even take laser. Even more strange is that you dont even get a printed receipt, just a handwritten one from one of those receipt books you can get anywhere. I know Mr. Gallagher has been in allegedly involved in trouble before so maybe this is their way of staying in the good books? Seems like a strange thing to do though!

    @robert - yes you do! I really enjoyed it and have spent far more on dinners in much worse places! Then again we did go for the cheapest option and were careful by only having one glass of wine each. The reviews I had read were all by people who could afford the priciest option so was nice to be able to report good things about the cheapest one!

  4. Thanks a million for this wonderful review Deirdre - I'd love to go, but hubbie doesn't eat meat, and I can't imagine Mr Gallagher making an all fish meal for him!!!

  5. Thank you, I looked again as was sure I had seen a fish only menu but was wrong and come to think of it they didnt ask us was there anything either of us didnt eat when ordering. Looking again at the menu though I did see at the very bottom that there is a vegetarian tasting menu available - might be worth enquiring, although saying that if you go I would definitely recommend the beef for you and I dont know if you could have a table with one veggie and one meat/fish menu!

  6. This sounds really fabulous - and much better value than The Taste of (rip-off) Dublin. I'm definitely going to check it out asap, in the next two weeks at least :)

  7. I was there Myself and Mr. Conrad caters for all, he goes out of his way TBH...i Went with a veggie also and there was no problem getting whatever i wanted & mixing menus around a little

  8. I'm amased at the positive comments above. We went on Friday night and felt that this was the a total rip off. If you are going to do the minimal amounts of food then you should be providing excellent taste to compensate for the lack of amount and premium being charged. We found the food average and not worth the money. There was also little to no atmosphere in the place. I'm surprised its lasted this long.

  9. hello anonymous,
    I have to say I found that everything tasted excellent when I was there and have heard the same from many other people who have eaten there. I do agree with you on the atmosphere or lack thereof.

  10. Had menu 4 this evening. Five of us really enjoyed it. Excellent food. Desert was by far the weak link I think. Too many deserts on the plate & not greatly executed.
    Fabulous waiter. Annoying re cash only policy. Pretty obvious why that is however......
    Space far too tight. Plus we were 5 seated at a table for 4. Far too tight.
    Bathrooms tiny & not the best either. Food though was very good. Menu 4 I would highly recommend.

  11. I had the €56 tasting menu about one month ago and was very impressed. My wife does not eat meat - the waiter happily confirmed that the kitchen could swap her meat dishes for fish ones (crab; monkfish), which set the right tone. Our waiter was a familiar face, who I last saw working in Christophe's at Duck Lane, near the Jameson Distillery/Four Courts & service was professional and very good. The food was inventive and went down well.

    Re the credit card situation - They don't take cards to avoid the Revenue Commissioners (or some other old creditor) swooping in to garnishee the proceeds of the bank account. (I think.) They weren't terribly busy on the Thursday night I was there, but hopefully the restaurant will last the distance - I'll return.

  12. Just returned from an early bird at the
    "salon" am disgusted with the attitude of the staff and the poorly prepared food. i work in the catering industry and know what im talking about. my gripes are as follows:

    Ice cold foie gras served straight from the fridge.
    Very heavy handed with their seasoning.
    cold plates and room temp food.
    misinformation of dishes by staff.
    i wasnt happy with food and had to listen to staff discussing myself and my partner while we ate.

    In summary: food has excellent potential but is ruined by prices which does not match the quality of service and quality of preparation.


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