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, March 18, 2018

[Review] Glovers Alley, Dublin 2

By the end of last year, I had heard whisperings of a new restaurant opening in the Fitzwilliam Hotel. It was going to aim high, and was recruiting staff from the best spots in town. That restaurant is now open, and there's no doubt that the uber luxurious Glovers Alley by Andy McFadden is currently the hottest ticket in town. 

Originally from Tallaght, McFadden became London's youngest Michelin-starred chef, before deciding last year to return home and invest in the space formerly occupied by Thorntons Restaurant. While McFadden's name is the name over the door and embossed on the menus, he's assembled a crack team around him. Head chef Philip Roe has accompanied Andy from London, head sommelier James Brooke moved across the Green from Restaurant Patrick Guildbaud, general manager Ed Jolliffe comes from Chapter One and the stellar Aoife Noonan joined as executive pastry chef, formerly having worked at Luna and Guildbaud.


According to newspaper reports, an eye-watering €1.3 million has been spent on the interior of Glovers Alley and boy, does it show. As we take the stairs up to the restaurant, we are assailed with the smell of new carpet. In the dining room, dusky pink dominates, with tones of warm wood, brass, glittering mirrors and dark green velvet, all tied together in an art deco style. It's a dining room for the Instagram generation. For me, it harks back to the era of glamorous, stylish cruise ships, yet also feels thoroughly contemporary. It's a huge improvement over the previous uninspired room, but I do miss the expansive views over St. Stephen's Green for which Thornton's was famous.

We are dining for Saturday lunch, and the menu is available as 2 or 3 courses for €35 or €45. The dishes on offer don't jump off the page, and I find myself looking longingly at the more tempting tasting menu which comes in at €105 per person or €195 with wines. However, it's lunchtime, and I really am not in the mood to drop €210 for food so we go for the more affordable lunch tasting menu at €60. Our first course of celeriac with Swiss Belper Knoll cheese, mustard and thyme sets a subtle style that I see repeated many times throughout the meal. Modern in style and composition, it very nicely balances textures and flavours, with occasional intense umami savoury flavours permeating through the vegetables. A dish of mackerel, cucumber, oyster and dill seemed muted initially, but then  gradually wowed as the flavours opened up. 
Celeriac with Belper Knolle, mustard and thyme
Mackerel, cucumber, oyster and dill
Despite being slightly over around the edges, a piece of hake with curry, watercress and parsnip was my personal favourite of the lunch. I simply loved the combination of curry with the clean fish. Cornfed chicken with "bacon & cabbage" sounded very pedestrian on paper, but tasted much better, mainly due to clever use of dark greens to add flavour and texture. But at the end of the day, it's still just chicken, the most soulless of meats, with a crispy rasher and cabbage. 

Hake, curry, parsnip and watercress
Cornfed chicken, "bacon and cabbage"
For dessert, we pass into the hands of pastry chef Aoife Noonan, and her dish of caramel glazed Passe Crasanne pear is simply stellar. It's super sweet, but it all works together, and each mouthful is a joy to eat. A wedge of Brie, truffled in house, is gloriously truly decadent especially when paired with the recommended glass of Taylors port (€10). Petits fours are fantastic, featuring a beautiful pistachio nougat and glossy orange dark chocolates. 
Passe Crassane pear, cacao, golden raisin and almond
Petits fours of nought and orange dark chocolate
Service at Glovers Alley is top notch, with immaculate attention to detail from every member of the floor staff.  Dishes are presented and whisked away with perfect timing. Ed and James chat with every table, and nothing goes unnoticed. 

I do find myself grimacing a little at the wine menu, despite the good selection. A restaurant like Glovers Alley will obviously have a high end wine list, but my hope to see a good selection of keenly priced wines (defined as sub €50 in this case) went largely unfulfilled. I choose a bottle of Schloss Gobelsburg 2016 Gruner Veltiner at €39 which was perfect for lunchtime sipping. There's a nice selection of sweet wines and we choose an intriguing Onra from Costa Segre (€10) and a Sauternes from Chateau Rieussac 2005 (€16) to accompany that lovely pear dessert.

Our total comes to €205, for a 6 course tasting lunch, one bottle of wine and 4 glasses of port and sweet wine. Without the additional glasses, it would have been €159, with sparking water included gratis. It's worth visiting to experience the dining room alone, it is that beautiful. And at €60 per head, the lunchtime menu is a super way to sample the food. I think though that the subtlety of the food doesn't quite match the grandeur of restaurant. Everything was very good, but it just didn't grab me by the proverbials and fill me with evangelical enthusiasm. A little more forcefulness please, and a little less of the nicey nicey.

Glovers Alley, Fitzwilliam Hotel, Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1 
URL: gloversalley.ie
Twitter: @gloversalley
Instagram: @gloversalley
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