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

The Dining Room by Conrad Gallagher

Irish chef Conrad Gallagher appears to have quietly added another venue to his growing list of ventures. The beautiful dining room at La Stampa hotel on Dawson Street has been annexed to become The Dining Room by Conrad Gallagher. (By the way, check out the length of the internet name!)

I'm a big fan of Salon des Saveurs where, despite a crowded space, Conrad Gallagher and his team manage to produce some extremely fine food. The Dining Room appears to be a more commercial offering, with the menu offering delicious sounding food at very refreshing prices. I was really pleased to see an Early Bird menu on offer, even on a Saturday, for €23 per head, so I booked a table for 4 to give it a whirl.

The brother-in-law and his wife were quick to accept our invitation and thus it was that we gathered in the cocktail bar at La Stampa on a sunny Saturday evening. We were seated by the hostess, but no one offered us a drink. Feeling a little bit ignored, I aked for a cocktail menu. As it was approaching 7pm, we took our seats inside so we could make the deadline for ordering off the Early Bird menu. It was a bit of a shock leaving the lovely evening sunshine to enter to darkened dining room. This is one of the few flaws in what is a stunning space - it is just too glum and dimly lit. Even the large bevelled mirrors all around the walls failed to enhance the brightness of the room. I did take some pictures of my food, but the darkness of the room, and my reluctance to disturb other diners with a flash meant that the photos did not really reflect well on the food, and therefore I decided not to use them.

We were given both Early Bird and A La Carte menus, but after a quick read, all of us decided to go for the Early Bird which really does offer excellent value. There is one word of warning - the rib-eye steak carries a supplement of €8, which was not printed anywhere on the menu.

For starters, I had duck rilette with foie gras terrine, beetroot puree, salad of pear and toasted pain d'epices, while mains consisted of salmon & tomato fondue with courgette, confit of tomato,tomato mash with wild broccoli. Both dishes were nicely sized and flavoursome. This was good food, well-executed, with nice textures and balance of flavours. Others at the table also enjoyed their food, with the daube of beef receiving extra mention. Dessert was a lemon tart with cooling blueberry sorbet.

For the money, this is really good food. However, our trip was slightly marred by erratic and forgetful service. Two of our party ordered the rib-eye which comes with duck fat chips. However, the steaks arrived at the table without chips and the staff looked confused when we enquired as to their whereabouts. The mistake didn't end there though, as when we received the bill, the chips were listed. Despite all this, I'm giving the staff the benefit of the doubt as the venue has only just opened, but it needs to be fixed. 

Oh, and for you celebrity spotters out there - Mr. Gallagher himself was on the prowl in the Dining Room, stopping by to check with every table as to how they were enjoying their meal. At other times, he was standing at the welcome desk, watching over all activity in the room, and when we left, we could hear his voice booming out the orders at the pass. 

The Dining Room, La Stampa Hotel, Dawson Street, Dublin 2. 
Tel: (01) 612 7911

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