Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Greenhouse

Since settling back into life in Dublin, I have been reading up on where are the good places to eat in town. This is not as straightforward as it sounds as Dublin is much smaller than London. There is no real equivalent of a Timeout in the city (print version, never mind online!) and there are far fewer peeps blogging about their meals too (which is a good thing  or bad thing depending on your view on bloggers). I randomly came across this blog entry one day and after a bit more research, decided that we should try and get a reservation for the Greenhouse. Securing a Saturday dinner reservation was much harder than I thought and eventually, I was able to get one a whole 6 weeks from the time of enquiry!!!! I think this was due to all the good reviews that the Greenhouse has been getting since opening earlier this year and much excitement about the prospect of being awarded a Michelin star for its efforts.

I have to be honest and say that upon reading the menu before our visit, I was not majorly excited about dinner. There was nothing that really caught my eye and appealed to me. On the night, we decided to try the 7-course tasting menu and immediately, I was mightily impressed. The food that was served really was exceptional and by far, the most creative and innovative we have eaten in Ireland since coming back in the summer. I would even go as far as saying that the food trumps Hedone in London, a resto that shares similarities with the Greenhouse (Scandinavian chefs, creative cuisine) A real culinary experience and the first time in a long while that I was truly "wowed" by a chef! (no mean feat as I am not the biggest fan of high end creative cuisine, my natural dining preference would be somewhere more casual with good, honest cooking)

Michelin did release their list of restaurants which were to be awarded stars this year before our visit and unfortunately, The Greenhouse did not receive any. A shame as Hedone with less impressive cooking was in fact awarded a star. I do not know exactly what the Michelin inspectors are looking for but having worked and eaten at other Michelin star establishments (1 through to 3 stars) these were some of the things I noticed whilst dining at the Greenhouse which I don't believe were up to Michelin standards:
  1. The wait staff on the whole were pretty good and attentive at the beginning of the meal. However, once the restaurant was around 80% full, standards began to slip and it felt like the dining room was "in the weeds". There was no efficient system or strict routines causing it all to become a little chaotic. Whoever is in charge of the front of house also needs to ensure that nobody has a dirty uniform during service, this is unforgivable. 
  2. There was a long waiting time for us between the last of our main courses and our desserts. Perhaps the staff were giving us a pause as we had just eaten 5 courses but we were lingering a tad too long.
  3. Guests have a glimpse of the passe in the kitchen on the way to the toilets which I am not convinced about. It would be fine if you are a resto with an open kitchen where it adds to the theatre of the dining experience but to be wandering by the corner of the kitchen is not very sophisticated.
  4. I am guessing that the resto is a bit tight on space which is why the spare chairs from the dining room are placed in a row against the wall opposite the toilets. However, if it is indeed aspiring for Michelin stars, the chairs need to be removed as it looks untidy, a bit of an eyesore and amateur.
  5. The toilets are too dimly lit, which then does not evoke cleanliness and I am guessing that they are not checked regularly during the course of service which is another let-down.
Whilst the food is exceptional, I am guessing that other aspects of the Greenhouse (service and attention to detail) will need to be brought up to scratch if it is to attain a star as Michelin is about service as well as about food. All I can say for now is bravo chef Mickael et bonne continuation!! :) 
Big fan of the glassware - elegant and different :)

Bread in a bag (which the whole world seems to be doing these days!)

Delicious Finnish rye bread (with spreadable butter, a firm tick in the box for that!)

Amuse bouches of crispy fish skin with salmon mousse and seaweed jelly with tuna tartare....

...mushroom choux puffs,

and sea salt and parmesan crisps

Foie gras royal and frozen, apple and candied nuts. 
I am not the biggest fan of foie gras but I really enjoyed this dish - if anything, I could've done with more of the apple jelly blobs which were tart enough and cut through the richness of the foie gras nicely :)

Raw marinated scallop, parmesan, horseradish, lemon and black radish.
Again, raw seafood would not be my number one choice of starter but this again was excellent and great combination of textures and flavours.

Ravioli of milk fed Pyrennean lamb with artichokes, hazelnuts and mushrooms
(JD enquired about the lamb and why the resto was not using Irish lamb. After 2 attempts at trying to tell us where the Pyrennees where, they finally listened to his question and replied that the lamb from the Pyrennees in their opinion had better flavour)
A very autumnal tasting dish with lots of earthy, rich flavours. The only slight complaint would be that the flavours overwhelmed the lamb itself.

Originally sea bass on the menu but we were served turbot with octopus and sea greens - delicious with perfectly cooked fish.

Smoked sika deer and caillete (a type of sausage), pumpkin, licorice and bone marrow - first time I have eaten deer and it was pretty delicious. Not a big fan of the licorice in this dish however.

Lemon tart - very pretty and tasty too. If you are going to call the dessert a tart (even a deconstructed one), it needs some form of pastry - a few crumbs is not enough in my opinion

Chocolate, caramel, sea buckthorn and brown butter ice cream - I am not the world's biggest chocoholic but this was very good (JD wished his portion was double the size!). Sea buckthorn has appeared on the "Great British Menu" several times and has always been slated by the judges. This was my first time tasting it and I really enjoyed it, therefore I cannot what their gripe is with the ingredient??!

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