Tavern Restaurant in the Dylan Hotel has had a makeover, or perhaps it’s a make under. Gone is the Celtic Tiger decadence, replaced by still contemporary design, but somewhat more low-key. This has always been a fine room; now the dining is still fine, but a talented chef and Maitre’d have transformed it into a more casual operation, albeit one in surroundings almost as delicious as the food.
This super cool boutique hotel is undeniably smart and sexy, with a clientele to match. The Dylan is eclectic and exuberant, and the perfect antidote to depression, whether financial or spiritual. The cocktail bar is super chic and it has one of the best terrace areas in the city, which on a sunny day is generally packed from early on.
Tavern sits between the front and back terraces and when the doors are open in good weather, the restaurant becomes part of the outside, and vice versa. Beautifully presented food can be seen winging their way outside to the peckish patrons, which is just another element to the people watching party that is the Dylan. Even in winter the outside is busy, with customer kept cosy with gas heaters and fleecy blankets.
The dinner menu is short, with an emphasis on fish, which Chef Mark Bodie not unreasonably believes is a natural choice for a small island nation surrounded by water. Starters include crab meat and citrus fruit with compressed melon, Toonsbridge Mozzarella salad, Brandy bay oysters, seared scallops and an Irish pork tasting plate. Prices are reasonable for a hotel of this calibre, running from €7 to €14 for the scallops. Main courses offer four fish dishes, one duck and one steak. Choose from roast halibut, hake en papilotte, John Stone rib eye steak or Silverhill duck with prices in the late twenties.
Having chosen from the A la Carte, we are soon seated with sparkling water and a glass of Chablis for the pretty side of the table. An amuse Bouche based on the scallop starter makes an appearance, with a tiny glass of the vegetable soup, and it dies the job of getting the taste buds going.
Deirdre started with the Toonsbridge mozzarella with heritage tomato and basil quinoa; a contemporary take on a Caprese salad, with slivers of frozen Bloody Mary dressing grated over the top, adding an element of theatre to this very successful variation on an Italian classic. I had the pork plate, and the pork roulade was a piggy explosion of flavour, moist and delicious, while a small cone of homemade black pudding was delicate and nicely spiced. The smoked pork belly was equally good, and the elements came together perfectly.
Our main courses were both from the fish side of the menu; Deidre went with the roast halibut, which came perfectly cooked with lobster meat, mussels, spinach ratatouille and smoked tomato water poured at the table. This was a classic fish dish, with the shellfish adding depth and flavour, while a side order of the more-ish triple cooked chips with delicious.
I had the fish plate, which was a more contemporary dish, which looked splendid with a splash of beetroot exploding across the plate, with the monkfish cheeks and cod brandade balls carefully placed on the plate. A side dish of crab and beetroot risotto was a small bowl of ruby rice with an almost sweet flavour from added limoncello.
We almost couldn’t manage dessert, but in the interests of research managed to find space in the dessert tummy for a melting Valrhona sphere filled with cherries and strawberry flavours, which was light and delicious.
Deirdre finished off with a small Christmas pudding cocktail, while I made do with a very good coffee. Tavern is a great new addition to The Dylan, and with a fine chef and front of house team, things can only go from strength to strength. Dylan is still one of the sexiest spots in the city, and dinner in Tavern was a pleasure.
**Tavern has a great new brunch menu as well, and a look through it makes it a definite stop over one of these weekends. I can feel the eggs Benedict and Dylan burger calling.