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!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

[Review] Chapter One, Parnell Square, Dublin 1

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?
And if you do decide to indulge yourself at Chapter One, make sure to order the coffee and petit fours to fnish your meal. At just €3 per head, this represents fantastic value as you will receive loads of decadently luxurious homemade chocolates and macaroons, all presented very prettily.

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

Chapter One on Urbanspoon
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4 comments

WiseMóna said...

Glad you had a good experience at Chapter One. We steer clear of them ourselves mostly due to the fact that they never live up to the hype or price.

Richard Speedie said...

Glad you enjoyed it and I liked your review.I've had below par experiences at L'Ecrivan and Chapter One as well as Deanes in Belfast before it lost it's star. It's funny becuase a one star restuarant is merely "very good cuisine in its category", a two-star ranking represents "excellent cuisine, worth a detour," and three stars are awarded to restaurants offering "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey". So in fact, offically, a one Michelin star meal is not even worth a detour...try telling that to them whilst they're working out the prices! I think for many of us who can only afford a special meal like this a few times a year, the hype in our own minds ensures we focus on every tiny detail and leaves us oft open to disapointment. I complained at the time to Chapter One as well as by email afterwards and the attitude was pretty shabby. The food took ages to come out and was freezing when it got there so spolied the whole experience. Although we got fresh food in the end, the magic was gone. I think their attitude to me was that I was 'one of those' types of customers...difficult. In fact, I'm far from that but I expected a Michelin star at least to explemify good service. Needless to say, I won't be back! Now, the Cliff House in Ardmore, that looks amazing and worth a spin down to...let's hope it matches the hype in my own mind! :-)

mise said...

Oh it's so worth spending money for this quality and degree of memorability. So many places do no better than we would ourselves at home,so it's a joy to sit back somewhere and know that everything you order will be perfect.

Shane said...

The "no samesies" rule is a brilliant revelation! I will be implementing that!

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