Saison restaurant is on Kildare Street; more specifically it is where Town Bar and Grill was, in the basement of Mitchells wine shop. Town was a rampant success back in the day, but it spluttered after Ronan Ryan left the building, and really needed a fresh start. Now the owners of the super Bodega tapas bar in Ranelagh have stepped up with Saison, a fresh new offering in a restyled venue.
Saison is all bright and shiny, especially the dazzling chandeliers and smaller glass ceiling lights, which really set of the room. There is plenty of exposed brickwork, and colour is provided by a cobalt blue wall, which is mirrored in banquette seating on the facing wall. Tables are very nicely spaced and there is a beautiful console table in the centre of the first dining area, which for me re-enforced the feeling of space and comfort; this is not an operation looking to squeeze in covers.
The menus are simple; there is a pre theatre menu offering two courses for €25, or the A la carte. The set menu has three of each, so choose from creamed goats cheese, pea and bacon soup or cured salmon with wasabi, and follow with fillet of cod, corn fed chicken or a rib of beef. The simplicity belies the dishes here, the presentation is wonderful, and char grilled rib of beef on a set menu I don’t see every day.
We ate off the A la carte, and again the menu is short, but very well formed. Starters included roast Irish scallops, seared mackerel or a ravioli of braised chicken and Foie gras. Main courses include seared John Dory, olive oil poached hake or Assiette of rabbit. The wine list has been carefully chosen with a list from suppliers such as Wines Direct, Anthony Tindal and Cassidy’s. There is a selection by the glass, and this is where we chose from. Deirdre indulged her penchant for Spanish with an interesting Godello, from the Galicia region which gives us the very popular Albarinho. I was more staid and chose an excellent white burgundy. Sparkling water kept us happy, along with some fresh bread and an amuse bouche of lobster got the taste buds going.
Deirdre's starter of roast scallops were an artistic endeavour before she even tasted them; this was one of the prettiest plates I have seen in a while. Taste wise they were no slouch either, perfectly cooked and served with new season asparagus, they were a delight. I enjoyed the asparagus veloute over braised oxtail. This posh soup was very well seasoned and flavoured and while an unusual choice for me, I enjoyed it a lot.
Main courses continued to impress; Deidre kept it simple with the chicken, while I had the star here. The Assiette of rabbit was another picture on a plate. Little towers of loin reminded me of the little forts on the war tables from Games of Thrones, and an endive tart was to die for.
We couldn’t fit in a dessert, and finished with a tea for Dee, while I had a coffee. Service was excellent throughout, and the dining room was nicely full.
Saison is new, and they are still finding their feet, but what’s there already is very good indeed. New chef, new menus, new room, new broom. Saison has the potential to replace an old favourite, we wish them well.