Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud is Ireland's only 2 star Michelin restaurant. They have consistently kept their stars and the pursuit of perfection is noticeable in the delicious, immaculately presented dishes prepared from the finest Irish ingredients.
Service is equally meticulous, combining efficient French decorum with discreet Irish charm. RPG started out in 1981, and from its original site at the back of the Bank of Ireland HQ on Baggot Street, it is now in the 5 Star surroundings of the Merrion Hotel, opposite Government Buildings on Merrion Street.
Recent winners of the restaurant of the Year at the Irish Restaurant Awards, RPG remains as current as ever. Congratulations are also due to Stephnae Robin, who was named manager of the year, and is one of the founding partners with patrick and chef Guillaume LeBrun.
There is something quite wonderful about a meal here, and Paolo describes his visits to Patrick Guilbaud as a pilgrimage, here is his latest....
“It was just a short walk from The Shelbourne to Patrick Guilbaud's, and we arrived bang on time for our booking.
I already knew what I wanted for my main course -- veal sweetbreads, as it's one of their signature dishes and one that I love.
The wine list is the size of a family Bible and runs to a lot of pages. The wines listed go from around €40 to many hundreds, the choice is huge and there's plenty for the connoisseur to enthuse over.
Shortly after we'd sat down, an array of breads arrived and we both chose the mini baguettes to nibble on. Then, an amuse bouche arrived -- a delicate little morsel of thinly sliced beetroot and goat's cheese.
And then came our chosen starters: pan-fried duck foie gras for Marian and croquettes of suckling pig for me. The foie gras was served with pickled cherries and smoked almonds, rather than its more traditional presentation on a slice of toasted brioche.The croquettes were two perfectly formed balls, about the size of ping-pong balls, fried to a golden crisp and enclosing finely chopped meat. They were placed on a square made of thinly sliced pancetta with a red-pepper sauce and, alongside that, a small piece of foie gras.
Two excellent starters, which were followed after a while by our main courses. Marian had chosen turbot and I'd chosen the calf sweetbreads. The turbot came with heritage carrots and a truffle and citrus vinaigrette, while the sweetbreads came caramelised and accompanied by confit fennel and baby carrots.
Again, these were two very good dishes, skilfully prepared and very well flavoured, but the sweetbreads were for me tremendous, and easily worth a pilgrimage to RPG all by themselves.
Often, after two courses, I find my appetite sated and I give desserts a miss, but in Patrick Guilbaud's the style is still to serve dainty quantities in the manner of nouvelle cuisine, so after our main courses we were more than hungry enough for dessert.
Marian decided on the Poire William soufflé, which came with a pear sorbet. I chose the selection of sorbets. Before they came, a selection of petits fours arrived at the table, all of which were delicious.
I'm sorry I didn't get a photograph of Marian's dessert, the pear soufflé. It was magnificent, rising to nearly double the height of the ramekin it came in. And it was feather light.
Although I had intended to keep Marian company in not drinking alcohol, I thought I might enjoy a glass of dessert wine with my dessert, so I ordered a glass of Jurançon Clos Uroulat at €16. It paired nicely with my sorbets, which were subtle and delicately flavoured.
We decided to take a tea and an espresso outside in the smoking area, where we ended the night. I felt confident that my voucher for €300 would cover our meal, and it did. The bill came to €274. The room is elegant, the food is excellent and a meal in RPG is still a gourmet treat.
It remains Ireland's only two-star Michelin restaurant.