The Ivy Restaurant has now opened in Dawson Street, bringing it's trademark chic and a bit of fab to Dublin's dining scene.
A few years ago my daughter and her friend went to London for the weekend, to see Legally Blonde, catch some sights and generally celebrate the end of the college year. I booked them dinner in the Ivy - they do this cool after theatre menu - and so they lived it up. Afterwards some of the staff brought them down the road to a club and saw them to a taxi safely, so The Ivy has always been in our good books.
It has now opened in the landmark One Molesworth building on Dawson Street, with an interior that is absolutely fabulous. On a Sunday evening the room was full but we managed to get a table and went inside. If Dublin hasn’t had a drop dead gorgeous dining room it does now. It is simply stunning. The walls are festooned with an eclectic collection of prints and posters of all sorts in primary colours.
The ceilings are covered with foliage printed wallpaper, geometric light fittings with polished copper seams hang from the ceiling and the centrepiece is an art deco bar of sublime shape and scale, which manages to rock the room without dwarfing it. Banquette seating predominates and stretches to the windows, gleaming mirrors reflect more light and colour and the whole effect is just fabulous.
They are open from morning serving breakfast, and we took a peak; it’s very reasonable, there are lots of choices including eggs several ways, healthy granolas and continental options. More to the point it’s reasonable. The eggs Benedict are around €12, which isn’t much more than you’ll spend in a nice suburban cafe. Breakfast in the city has been a challenge for some time; the hotels are too expensive and everything else involves running, jumping and catching while whirling through a maelstrom of people all hurrying to work.
Lunch runs into dinner and the menu is nicely laid out, very keenly priced and I defy anyone not to find something to tempt them. Starters include asparagus with truffle hollandaise, prawn cocktail, steak tartar, duck salad, scallops, oysters and seared tuna. There’s four dishes I’d happily eat right there. Mains offer a section of fish, a choice of steaks as well as a burger, slow cooked lamb shoulder, their signature Shepherd’s pie and a very popular monkfish and prawn curry.
I find it hard to pass steak tartar and this one was perfectly made, using finely chopped beef, with shallots, parsley and cornichons, topped with a free range egg yolk, all served with toasted sourdough. The texture was velvety, the piquancy just right and I do enjoy mixing my own egg through.
Deirdre had the crispy duck salad, and let’s face, there is one of just about every menu at present, so it’s hard to find a stand out. She may just have found one here. Grapefruit segments and five spice powder added different complexity of tartness and kick, while watermelon, bean sprouts and ginger, topped with toasted cashew nuts brought he dish home with a sweet and sour combination that just worked.
Main courses saw us both keep it sea side. Seared yellow fin tuna for Dee was perfectly cooked – barely – and came as a salad, perfectly light and refreshing in the middle of our heat wave. I had the blackened cod served in a banana leaf, with delicious pickled fennel, chilli and grilled broccoli.
We took a little break before sharing a baked apple tart flambé, which finished our meal with a bit of theatre. All in all I have to say we both loved it. This is glamorous, fabulous dining with a serious side of people watching. The food wass excellent, the prices reasonable for food of this quality and in a setting as beautiful as this one. Service was perfect and friendly and even on their first week everyone seems happy and confident.
The operation is huge; 150 staff, open from 7am and keeping the whole thing ticking over is a feat. GM Jamie Belton has run some of Dublin's best and knows his way around.
We really wanted to go sit at the bar, drink champagne or Daiquiri’s, but Imelda May waits for no one, and she was playing in Trinity, so we left our little cocoon of fabulousness and went back to the real world knowing we’d be back soon.