Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Balzac Restaurant

The dining room at Balzac has to simply be one of the most elegant and graceful rooms in Dublin. Tall ceilings, wooden floors and mirrored wall, faux marble pillars and large flowerpots make fcr a formidable dining room. For all that, the dining room is often noisy, the wooden floor is perilously close to slippery and chairs are placed too close together.

We ate at Balzac recently as part of a party of 5. Due to an error with our booking, we were seated on our own in the curtained-off private area to the rear of the restaurant. We welcomed this as it provided some isolation of the main dining room.

In the 3 times I've eaten at Balzac, I've found the service to be slow. It can be hard to get a waiter's attention, and given that there is a 12.5% service charge added to the bill, I think that I'd expect more attentive service. However, the waiters are unerringly polite and are clearly kept busy throughout the whole night.

Food was generally good with some odd exceptions. My crab creme brulee was divine and the tanginess of the accompanying pickled cucumbers set off the creaminess of the eggy custard to perfection. My main of rump of lamb with caponata and rosemary was excellent, cooked just the right side of rare and a nice sized-portion. Two of my party ordered the "Crispy Fried Monkfish, Chips, Sauce Gribiche" and received a very disappointing plate of fish and chips. Three small squares of batttered monkfish, a bowl of sauce and a bowl of chips constituted a very empty and desolate looking plate. The lack of presentation or skill with this dish left an empty feeling in our mouths.

Deserts were good (strawberry and vanilla panna cotta for me) with an excellent glass of Mount Horrocks desert wine to wash it down. Two bottles of french red, several bottle of water bought the bill for 5 to €430 approx (incl. service charge).

I'm not as enamoured of Balzac following this trip as I would have been on previous visits. I still think that it offers good food at good prices, but the combination of the service charge and the overpriced fish and chips just takes the edge off.

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