Our last night in Dublin had to be special and unique - we opted to dine at the only 2-star Michelin in Ireland. Some say the first impression is the most important but I personally believe in the little details that accompany your evening right until the end... A week already passed and I still cannot forget our meal at Patrick Guilbaud and how memorable it is as I remember the rich flavors that still travel around my palate. Having featured in everything from the Irish Times to the New York Times, Patrick Guilbaud is renowned as one of the best restaurants in Ireland and is also internationally acclaimed, it’s no wonder it has left such an impact on me...
Patrick Guilbaud, chef and entrepreneur opened his restaurant more than thirty years ago and managed with the help of chef Guillaume Le Brun and managing partner Stephane Robin to offer Ireland its only two star Michelin. If you are a culinary amateur, visiting his restaurant is a must while visiting the Irish capital. Nestled in one of Dublin's fine hotels, 5 star Merrion Hotel in Dublin city center, the cuisine is contemporary Irish with classical roots. The place can be accessed from two sides, from the main lobby or directly from the street. We passed the lobby to see a white wooden door on which "restaurant" is printed on. Behind it, you come across a reception before reaching the establishment. The restaurant is divided into five different sections: A private room with its single oval table that can host up to ten guests, the welcoming salon, the service bar, the dinning space and the terrace. The private dining area:
- The big room that can welcome ten to twelve guests maximum
- An oval table
- Red walls
- Chimney and old French style paintings
The blue saloons:
- Four distinct corners
- A chimney
- A blue overall ambiance
- Aperitif corners
- Chandelier and dimmed lighting
- Paintings on the walls
- A champagne table
The bar and restaurant access:
- The bar
- Glass and bottle display on one side and a bar on the other
The Dining area:
- Down the stairs
- A high ceiling in an arcade shape
- Colorful paintings on the wall
- A thick and relaxing colorful carpet covers all the spaced our tables next to the arcade with a view of the terrace
- Dimmed yellow lighting
It was already 10pm when we arrived to be welcomed by Stephane Robin, the Managing Partner as if we were the first and only guests on the list. The staff was so joyful and filled with energy. The enthusiasm, energy and inviting feel were tremendous. We were seated in the reception area; we were offered some champagne as we waited for our table to be ready. Meanwhile, the menus were distributed for us to choose our desires. The menu is simple, printed on a large carton putting things clearly in front of your eyes without sophistication. Colorful lines as if hand painted add a touch of freshness to the pages. The headwaiter first impressed us by his warm and pleasant welcoming. A positive attitude and a smile that never left his face, introducing us to his home that he has been managing for years. I couldn't but write down an amazing sentence I heard and wish all restaurateurs use. When asked if we can change ingredients of the plates, he answered with confidence: "Tout est possible chère madame car nous ne cuisinons qu'à la minute."
The menu sections:
- A la Carte
"Your table is waiting," said the headwaiter. We stood up and walked to our destination. After the bar and down few stairs is a large dining space. A space that looks like a praying sanctuary with its rectangular shape, high arcade ceiling and dimmed lighting. It's interesting how you come to discover the space that will host you for the next few hours, directly from above. Fine silver cutlery decorates the round tables…
While having dinner, we had one of the most beautiful and enriching conversations I've ever had in a restaurant. Stephane Robin shared some secrets about his recruitment methods, the history of the place and his personal rich past along starred chefs. This ambitious man started his career at the age of 17 in Monaco and then climbed the stairs of life with an experience in six of France's best restaurants before settling down in Ireland. I admired the utmost professionalism this person has and rich baggage of know how in the industry. Hours passed like seconds, while a discussion led to the one after in a pleasant ambiance around a tasty table.
The great formula this restaurant has:
- Appetizer, fish or meat for 90Euros
- Appetizer, fish or meat, dessert for 105Euros
- Appetizers, fish, meat and dessert for 130Euros
Good to know: Chef Guillaume Le Brun has been conducting the kitchen with the help of 17 chefs since it forts opened and still doing so in style.
Dinner started with a choice of sparkling or still water. Two fine crystal glasses with the chef's logo engraved on each. The sommelier then approached us to help with the wine. I liked his approach and extensive know how which led us to choose Gran Reserva Especial 2004. Impressive: Only one member of staff is allowed to approach the table at a time. If the sommelier is around, waiters stay away. If the manager is having a discussion of one of the guests, the waiters wait for him to leave before approaching to explain about the food.
Wine to accompany our dinner: 2004 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial: Powerful nose of dark fruit, leather, cherries, and spice. On the palate rich red and dark fruit, leather spice, vanilla. Obvious oak on a drying tannic finish. The Exquisite Food:
- Middle bites to open your appetite: Gougere au from age. Gougere is a baked savory choux pastry made of choux dough mixed with cheese. Soft and tender, gently crunching on the outside and served hot on a black ceramic plate
Bread: Many kinds proposed, all baked in-house. Bacon and onions, ciabatta, multicerals, tomato and funnel, nuts and raisins. Small crunchy bread that are fresh and don't even need to be served warm. Coupled with tender salty butter from Normandie. Mise en bouche: Mousse de pommes de Terre, gousse de vanille, cafe et fromage de mimolette. Soft potato purée decorated with black coffee and cheese on top. Sticks to the palate and here the vanilla flavours explode.
Appetizers to start:
- Light Jerusalem Artichoke and chestnut soup with a hint of Maderia
- Red king crab and pineapple Cannelloni. Pickled ginger, yuzu, wasabi creme fraiche
- Ravioli of Blue lobster, Lobster coconut cream, toasted almonds, split curry dressing
- Croquettes of Suckling pig, Fried Quail egg, Foie gras, Pancetta, red pepper mostardo
Main orders are exquisite:
- North Atlantic wild halibut. Girolles, fresh almonds, rubino gnocchi, Almond milk
- Pan roast native Red deer. Okitsu Clementine, creamed celeriac. Horseradish and cardamom
- Laquered challahs duck. Orange, hibiscus, glazed radish. Salad of caramelized leg, aigret dour dressing
Since the tradition is to eat mashed potatoes in Ireland, a red coper casserole was offered in the middle of the table to follow the tradition.
The food was exquisite to say the least. What can I say about a restaurant that has managed to maintain its second Michelin star for years and now working on the third. The plates presentation, ingredients and taste are breathtaking. And when you think that the amazement game was done, desserts make their big entrance... Extraordinary chocolate bites that will really make you moan subconsciously.
- Pre-dessert: gelee de cognac, mousse de fromage blanc à la noix de muscade
Complementary chocolate mignardises:
- Valrhona chocolate desserts
- Contemporary dark chocolate tart, bourbon vanilla ice cream
- Warm criollo chocolate biscuits. milk chocolate, hazelnut centre, stout ice cream
And more was yet to come. A welcome bite, mise en bouche, pre-dessert and now an after dessert. The homemade chocolate truffles served in a cigar box: Waw!
The little things that amazed me:
- The thick super developed wine list is impressive indeed
- Wine glasses changed according to the one chosen, in this case the red one
- Nobody approaches the table if another member of staff is here
- All the staff is French, meticulously recruited
Yes, I do recommend you try Patrick Guilbaud if you happen to pass by the Irish capital. A bill of 120Euros per person is worth every penny. Two Michelin stars well deserved. Crossing fingers for the third.