Thursday, August 1, 2013

[Review] The Morrison Grill, Ormond Quay, Dublin 1

A while back the Morrison Hotel on Ormond Quay underwent a major makeover and moved under the umbrella of the Doubletree by Hilton brand. One of the signature features of the Doubletree brand is receiving a freshly baked cookie upon checkin. We stayed recently at the Doubletree in Amsterdam and the glorious smell of those cookies nearly droze me into a frenzy due to the cruelness of not eating wheat. Colleagues who have stayed at the Morrison assure me that cookies are available here also.

For those of you who may remember the old layout, the lobby area has changed significantly. It's now a single open space, subdivided into dining & drinking areas. To the left is the bar, Quay 14, with a cocktail list full of Dublin and Irish song-themed drinks. And to the right is the Morrison Grill, a bright and relaxed dining space, with a menu that is described as "refined rustic". The kitchen is home to a Josper Grill, which is a combined charcoal grill and oven that can reach temperatures of 500C. It's the most macho sounding oven I've ever come across. Suck on that standard fan oven.

The place settings are suitably retro, and they don't look out of place in the sleek and hip lobby. There is a set lunch menu with 2 courses for €20 or 3 for €25. However, none of the options jumped out at men (chicken, salmon or gnocchi for mains), so I chose from the √† la carte menu. In addition, as it's a Friday and I have the day off, I also choose a Final Straw cocktail, which is a mix of bison grass vodka, vermouth, apple juice and prosecco (€9.50). 
Retro style place setting at the Morrison Grill
A cooling Final Straw cocktail
My starter of Richard Doyle's potted pork comes in an elaborate arrangement of glass jar, toast rack, mini cast iron skillet and a wooden board (€7.50). This must be a trial of strength and balance for the waiting staff and personally, I could have done without the toast rack which tore a slice when I attempted to extract one from its grip. 

As a big fan of all things porcine, I liked the potted pork very much. The jar was full to the brim and could easily act as a main meal on its own, especially when bulked out with the thick slices of bread and accompanying homemade pickled vegetables. Thankfully, it was served cool, as opposed to cold, which gave the dense meaty strands a chance to display their flavour. Blobs of mustard and apple sauce add some bite and zing and I could have done with more of them.
Richard Doyle's potted pork 
Homemade pickled veg to accompany the potted pork
And then it was time for the star attraction. As you'd expect in a restaurant with such a manly grill, there are lots of grilled meats on offer. It would feel a crime to order something not cooked in the searing magnificence of the Josper grill. My choice is the 9oz ribeye, dry aged on the bone for 28 days and served with mixed leaves and sumo chips (which I ask to be replaced with skinny fries) and a choice of sauce (€25). Fries and steak demand b√©arnaise, so that is what I order. 

Other steak options range from a flat iron (€22) to the "I will never understand why anyone orders it" fillet steak (€29). A 16oz bone-in tomahawk ribeye steak for two weighs in at €45, making it a good choice for carnivorous couples or bromance buddies. First impressions of my ribeye were solid, with a good char in evidence. It came medium rare, as ordered, and I tucked in with the joy that a good steak creates. The fries were lacklustre, but the peppery dressed salad leaves were a good addition.
9oz ribeye steak
Chef John O'Leary hails from Kerry, and when I heard his accent I was whisked home, close to the Cork-Kerry bounds. John is a fan of hearty, earthy Irish dishes and the Morrison Grill serves brown bread made using his grandmother's recipe. He has a big commitment to sourcing Irish produce, with regular seasonal updates to the menus. Hotel restaurants can be grim places at times, and it really is wonderful to see such a venue stepping up to the mark by offering Irish, seasonal produce.

I very much enjoyed my lunch at the Morrison, even if I did feel that everyone who passed through the lobby was staring into my plate. A little more privacy for the diners might not be a bad idea. The food here is sure to be enjoyed by the American and foreign guests that the Doubletree brand will attract, hopefully helping raise the profile of Irish cooking. 

The Morrison Grill, The Morrison Hotel, Ormond Quay, Dublin 1
Tel: +353 (0)1 887 2400
URL: www.morrisonhotel.ie/en/morrison-grill.html
Twitter: @MorrisonGrill and @morrisondublin

Morrison Grill on Urbanspoon