I have to admit that this review has taken me quite a while to write. I am lucky to visit lots of restaurants on a regular basis, and in the case of most venues, it is easy to think of some words to express my thoughts. However, once in a while, I visit a restaurant that's harder to write about. Such was the case with Chapter One.
Chapter One was my fifth visit to a Michelin-starred restaurant, and my third in Ireland (after Thornton's and L'Ecrivain). My experiences in other starred restuarants had left me a bit disgruntled with the whole Michelin-star thing. None had been really memorable and on one occasion in San Francisco, the food had been downright bad. And while I am still skeptical of the whole Michelin vibe, I am glad to say that Chapter One proved to be an absolutely memorable and special experience.
What can I possibly add to the volumes that have been written about Chapter One? With chef Ross Lewis in charge, it has garnered numerous accolades and awards, the least of which is the aforementioned Michelin star. In fact, when you walk down the steps to the entrance of Chapter One, you are greeted with a veritable Hollywood Walk of awards and plaques. My words on this blog will not add any insight hitherto unmentioned. I cannot possible enhance their culinary reputation more than the editor of Saveur magazine or Tom Doorley already has.
But I can tell you about what I personally enjoyed at Chapter One. I enjoyed the warm hospitality and welcome exhibited by Martin Corbett and his front of house staff. It was throroughly Irish in nature, with references to local events and venues. You simply wouldn't get this warmth and intimacy anywhere else in the world. Chapter One magnificently balances fine food with the intrinsic informal nature of the Irish.
The food, as you would expect, was excellent. We chose the four course menu, at €65 per head. As usual, the "no-samesies" rule was applied so that we could experience as much of the menu as possible. While I loved all dishes, I have to give extra special mention to my first course. This was a little plate of silky plump ravioli, filled with 36 month parmesan and black pepper, served with a spring onion puree. When the little parcels burst, I was overwhelmed with the pure essence of parmesan. Extraordinarily good.
|Parmesan ravioli with spring onion puree|
Other dishes I enjoyed included
- Charcuterie Trolley (pig's trotter boudin, potted rabbit & ham, Gubbeen salami and foie gras terrine). The boudin was full of deep spicy flavours and crumbled apart at the touch of the fork.
- Dombes duck breast with fried cabbage and smoked potato, carrot and black cumin puree & duck sauce sharpened with apple balsamic vinegar. This came with a slice of flattened, crispy duck skin which I simply didn't get. It didn't match with anything else on the plate as far as I was concerned. But I could have ate bowls of that eye-popping, smooth carrot puree.
- Carrageen set Glenillen double cream with strawberries, fresh yougurt mousse, brown bread sugar biscuits and Irish apple balsamic vinegar meringue. Srawberries, cream - how can you go wrong?
I'm not going to go into the details of our overall bill (like I normally would). You don't go to an establishment like this in order to watch the pennies. Chapter One exists for celebrations and conversations. Suffice to say, it wasn't cheap, but I did feel as if I had gotten value for every red cent I spent.
|Dombes duck breast (check out the intense carrot puree)|
|Glenillen double cream with strawberries & biscuits|