As a treat for the husband returning to the land of fun after an intense exam session I booked us in for a snazzy weekend lunch date at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. We discovered a love for fine dining in our New York days and I wanted to treat him to Dublin’s finest, the much celebrated, two Michelin Star Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud which is situated in the gorgeous Merrion Hotel.
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud oozed elegance from the moment we stepped into the beautiful Georgian townhouse. We were greeted personally by all of the staff as we made our way into the restaurant and, having declined a pre dinner drink in the lounge, we were shown through to our table in the middle of the dining room. The bright and airy modern dining room is in stark contrast to the rest of the rooms in the wing and features lots of round tables resulting in a conversation friendly atmosphere.
During the lunch serving Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud offers a two course table d’hote menu (€40) and a 3 course with dessert at €50. I saw the word cheese and knew I’d be indulging in the three course menu while the husband saw the word dessert and his decision was made!
There was no shortage of wine available and the wine menu was by far the biggest I’d ever seen! The restaurant wine cellar contains over 25,000 bottles from across the globe and, given the workout my arm muscles received from browsing the wine list, I’ve no doubt many of them are detailed in the menu! The entry-level bottles were priced at around €40 and, after some consultation with the sommelier, we opted for a New Zealand Pinot Gris in a nod to our New Zealand road trip days!
Browsing the comprehensive wine list!
Our amuse bouche arrived shortly after we placed our order and consisted of creamed potato with grated cheese, a hint of vanilla and a sprinkling of coffee. The combination of flavours was interesting but it didn’t strike us as a showcase dish offering a glimpse into the restaurant’s capabilities. It was a good dish, light and delicate, just not the ‘mouth pleaser’, as amuse bouche literally translates, we were hoping for.
We were served a selection of homemade breads which looked and tasted delicious and were accompanied by a creamy butter. We sampled two and then, in an incredible display of self-restraint, managed to resist any further bread offers to save ourselves for the main event!
We opted for a garden greens, ricotta and mint tortellini soup and a Wye valley asparagus Caesar salad for our starters. The soup was light and I loved the tortellini while the husband was a big fan of the asparagus salad.
For mains we settled on the grilled fillet of John Dory Tandoori Marsala with a pea, lettuce and tomato dashi and seared calf’s liver with a bacon colcannon and sauce diable. The dishes arrived accompanied by a beautiful Le Crueset dish of creamy mashed potato.
Both dishes were excellent. The eastern flavours were a surprise hit with the fish and the calf’s liver was faultless. The calf’s liver was easily one of the best dishes of the day.
We were pleasantly full after the first two courses but couldn’t resist the lure of the dessert menu! Having spotted the most incredible cheese trolley being wheeled across the dining room to a fellow diner I was ridiculously excited to welcome it to our table! I love a good cheese board (so much so that our wedding cake was a gorgeous cheese ensemble!) so this was a dream dessert for me!
The selection of Irish and French farmhouse cheeses:
For the second dessert choice we chose the gariguette strawberry vacherin served with ice cream. This was by far the prettiest dish of the meal and it tasted every bit as good as it looked!
With the dessert plates cleared, the waiter presented us with a beautiful selection of petit fours and a pot of coffee. The mix of sweet treats, including a macaroon and a meringue, were the perfect end to the meal.
There’s no doubt that we had an excellent meal in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud and it was well deserving of its €50 price tag. The dishes were executed flawlessly and became more impressive as we moved through the courses. We loved the synchronized lifting of the silver serving dishes to reveal the food underneath. The dishes were beautifully presented and the Patrick Guilbaud branded crockery was a lovely touch.
Dining at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud was an excellent experience and it certainly lived up to the fine dining hype. It was the perfect spot to enjoy a lingering lunch date in a beautiful dining room.
The not so good:
We felt the lunch menu was limited in its choices. Each course had 3 offerings and the starters consisted of salad, soup and chicken and the mains were chicken, John Dory fish and calf’s liver. When dining out we like to try new things that we wouldn’t eat regularly but, aside from the calf’s liver, the other main ingredients feature fairly regularly in our dinner choices. Maybe we’re being harsh critics but given the outstanding lunch we enjoyed in the similarly priced 3 Michelin Star Jean Georges in New York, we had set our expectations high for Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.
At the beginning of the meal when only a few tables were occupied we felt the service bordered on intrusive. We were repeatedly asked if we would like an aperitif (when once would suffice) and both our wine and water glasses were refilled the moment we took even a small sip. Our empty still water bottle was replaced when we had two full glasses on the table and the requirement for a second bottle was by no means a given. As the restaurant filled up, the service noticeably calmed down in this respect so I’m inclined to put it down to an eagerness to please in an empty restaurant.
Don’t get us wrong, despite the criticisms we wouldn’t hesitate to dine in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud again. The meal was excellent and worth every cent of its 50 euro price tag. We just felt the selection was more limited on the lunch menu and the dishes on offer weren’t as diverse as we were expecting. We have every intention to return and sample the a la carte menu or the tasting menu and experience the best of what Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud has to offer.
Website: Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
Location: 21 Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2