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!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

[Review] Balfes at the Westbury Hotel, Dublin 2

Lately, life has been extremely busy. Work has been demanding (nothing new there), but when combined with a house hunt and move, there just wasn't much time left for anything else. Eventually though, everything in our old apartment was boxed and transferred to our lovely new little house. Thanks to a trip to IKEA, I have a wonderful, brightly coloured, new armchair and a regular routine is starting to emerge again. 

We spent last Saturday in town, something that we haven't had an opportunity to do for quite a while. After getting my hair cut, it was time for lunch. The Westbury Hotel have given their restaurant space a facelift and I wanted to try it out. The newly named Balfes (after the street) is an attractive spot with a lovely outdoor terraced area to the side of the main hotel entrance. The white tiled walls and wicker furniture convey the sense of a French brasserie with a classic, sleek New York twist. 
Sitting outdoors at Balfes
We were handed a brunch menu, which is served 10am - 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. When you're shopping in town for a day, brunch just doesn't feel right, and I would very much have liked to have some lunch choices available. A lot of brunch menus feel very samey-samey, with crowd-pleasing dishes which cancel out a restaurant's own personality.

My prime beef burger came in a smoothly glazed, sweet brioche bun, with perfect fries and a smokey paprika mayo. At €16, it was definitely on the pricey side for a burger, but the combination of Gruyere cheese and crispy smoked bacon made for a quite decent effort. Himself's open sandwich of tuna with creamy hummus and radishes looked very healthy, especially when rounded out with a portion of rocket and parmesan salad (€9.00 and €4.50 respectively). Again, there was the slight feeling of expensive, but what else would you expect in a luxury, 5 star hotel?
Burger with fries and paprika mayo
Tuna and hummus open sandwich
During our brunch (how I wish it had been lunch), we sipped on tall, icy glasses of the Devilshoof cocktail. The mix of gin, basil leaves, limoncello and lemon bitters (€10.50) sounded refreshing and cool, but by the end, the original fresh crispness had been replaced by the strong, herbal notes of basil. Perhaps we should have drank quicker?
Devilshoof cocktail
Once home, I visited Balfes website to read the regular daytime menus, whereupon I learned that there is a Josper grill in the kitchen (also to be found in the Morrison Hotel). As we paid and left, I just felt that the brunch menu didn't give the kitchen a chance to shine or show its distinctiveness. Both dishes had been quite good, but didn't feel unique to the restaurant. However, the smart chicness of the decor and the promise of the expanded all day menu will surely draw me back at some stage. Balfes already feels like a spot for a reliable lunch.  

Balfes, The Westbury Hotel, Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1 646 3353
Twitter: @BalfesDublin

Balfes on Urbanspoon

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