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, April 16, 2012

[Review] The Greenhouse, Dawson St, Dublin 2

It may only be April, but the restaurant opening of the year has already taken place. And unless Ferran Adrià decides to move to Ireland and open a fish'n'chip shop in Lahinch, I don't think any other restaurant will eclipse the opening of The Greenhouse, close to Dublin's St Stephen's Green.

Finnish chef Mickael Viljanen has transferred his family and his cooking from the limestones of the Burren in Clare, to the granite blocks of the capital. Leaving behind Gregan's Castle, he is now heading up the kitchen at Eamon O'Reilly's newest venture, which is located on the former premises of Bleu Bistro on Dawson Street. The interior has undergone a transformation with all the linen and crystal that one might expect from a fine dining venue. Plush, blue-green velvet chairs provide blocks of colour, but overall the room is too densely packed. Listening to your elderly neighbours slurp down their second bottle of wine is never a good experience.

We ordered from the set lunch menu (2 courses for €25, 3 courses for €30), applying the "no-samesies" rule. While waiting, we grazed on a miniature dark rye loaf, pre sliced, served with plenty of softened butter. Our amuse bouche were little bonbons of chicken liver, which had to be eaten in one go, bursting in our mouths.

Perfect miniature rye bread
Amuse bouche of chicken liver bonbons
Things moved up a notch with the arrival of our starters. My starter of foie gras was incredibly beautiful, served in a tumbler, topped with crumbles of celery sorbet, candied walnuts and a vibrant flower. Celery is my arch-enemy of the vegetable world, yet the icy cold clumps blended beautifully with the sweet, small walnuts and smooth, decadent foie gras. His starter of Clare Island salmon had been cut with geometric precision and was rich and fatty. Clumps of snow, horseradish and kohlrabi added texture and flavours.
Foie gras royale with walnut and celer
Clare Island salmon, kohlrabi, licorice and horseradish
The magnificent visual arrangements continued with our main courses. My shoulder of veal was pink perfection, served with rich jus, swirls of carrot, beautiful mash and blobs of intense, vinegary reductions. But special praise has to go for his main course of pollock (spelt pollack on the menu). I have fond childhood memories of this much-ignored fish. I even tried to buy it once in the English Market only to be told that it was too common and not available. It's a magnificent alternative to cod, and here it was elevated to buttery perfection, accompanied by the strong tastes of wild garlic with charred and pickled onion petals.
Veal shoulder, local carrots, date, dill & vinegar
Pollack branade with wild garlic, onion petlals, smoked butter emulsion and wild herbs
We had initially intended to have just two courses for lunch, but as one can imagine, that intention didn't last past the starters. My choice of passionfruit soufflé was listed as taking 15 minutes on the menu, but that gave us time to sit back and relax. Soufflés fascinate me as masterpieces of baking, and this rendition was no exception. Beautifully light and fluffy with a buttery, sugar encrusted outside but still tart and sharp from the passionfruit. My only (and very slight) let down of the meal was the passionfruit sorbet. It was sharp and the soufflé was sharp, making everything too sharp. The lack of balance here was in contrast to the meal so far.

His dessert of poached and roasted Conference pears were beautifully matched with peanut, chocolate and caramel bits. The pears were caramelised and soft (a welcome contrast to my pears at Bon Appetit which skidded off the plate when I tried to cut with my fork). 
Passionfruit soufflé with passionfruit sorbet
Poached and roasted conference pear with chocolate, caramel and peanut
Several of our lunching neighbours were knocking back bottles of wine (with lunch!) but I haven't quite yet reached that position of lushness and fecklessness. However, as I was on holidays, I did enjoy a glass of distinctive Tahbilk Marsanne from the Goulburn Valley, Australia (€7) with honeysuckle and other, more complex flavours.

There's no doubt that The Greenhouse will soon be the owner of a sparkling Michelin star (if indeed, that is the game they want to play). Food as pretty and elegant as this deserves to be feasted on with all senses, and my lazy backside is very thankful that it's now available in Dublin, as opposed to Clare. With perhaps 6-12 more inches between the tables, this little restaurant would be a veiled cocoon of pleasure.

The Greenhouse, Dawson St, Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1 676 7015
Twitter: @_The_Greenhouse

The Greenhouse on Urbanspoon


Stef said...

Great stuff, can't wait to do the full tasting menu here. Best meal I had last year was in Gregans.

Stef said...

Finally had dinner here a few nights ago. Had the full tasting menu and it was brilliant, haven't eaten better food all year.

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