Dublin Eats: Chapter One

When considering Dublin's fine dining options there is really nowhere better known than Chapter One.

Opened in 1992 in the basement of Dublin Writer's museum on Parnell Street few could have predicted it's unprecedented success, as let's be honest Parnell Street isn't exactly the Champs-Elysees. Though with a Michelin star in the bag since 2007 and profits close to €300,000 in 2014, head chef Ross Lewis has proved the doubters wrong. 

Head Chef Ross Lewis

Needless to say when we jumped out of our taxi on a cold winters eve in front of the restaurant I was very excited to see what all the fuss was about. 

The big welcome from the staff was cheerful, as were the pre-dinner drinks at the bar. Though truth be told the bar's decor lacked pizazz, or in the words of our waiter "I could take you to the bar but it's nothing special" hmm...

The bar in Chapter One

Bar in Chapter One

At the bar we both ordered the 7 course tasting menu (aka the diet special) and were then brought to the main dining room which had a lovely cosy atmosphere. 

The interior of Chapter One

The first course was Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Toonsbridge ricotta, sage, and smoked onion oil. It was perfect for a winter menu, warming and full of flavour but not in a hot chilli way. 

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Next up was Slow Cooked Leeks with herbs and rapeseed oil, cockles and clams, Pommery mustard, shallot and roasted hazelnuts, and Autumn truffle. Now here is where I start to have problems with this menu. You read the above and think wow, so many ingredients, but really all you are getting is a single leek and hints of everything else. Ok I realise I am being biased as I don't enjoy leeks but I sadly was not impressed, especially when you consider the 85 euro price tag for the menu. 

Slow Cooked Leeks

Course 3 was Brendan Guinan's Organic Beetroot, preserved lemon and goats cheese, shallot and smoked almond crumb. I love goats cheese and it was delicious but again I just don't feel that beetroot should be a course by itself on such an expensive menu. 

Organic Beetroot

Alleviating my annoyance with the veggies was some very good wine. We opted for a tasting wine menu to go with our meal and in stark contrast to the food the wine was turning out to be the best deal in town. The waiter was pouring full glasses of fabulous wine with each course, and priced at 45 euro a head you were practically making money on it! Sure we couldn't quite finish all the glasses as we would have passed out into our desserts but for you fellow oenophiles it's worth remembering this.

"Wine is a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy" - Benjamin Franklin

Course 4 brought an end to the vegetables with one of the restaurant's signature dishes; Pig's Tail stuffed with Fingal Ferguson's bacon and Dublin bay prawn, basil puree and citrus mustard fruit. I had a sudden change in mood as I tasted this wonderfully tender meat.

Pig's Tail

This positive change moved up a gear as the following course was also satiating. We had John Dory with shrimp, roast broccoli, pickled anchovy and shallot dressing, and shrimp crackers. The portion size was generous and the fish was tasty and meaty without being too heavy.. yes in case you haven't guessed already I am an absolute carnivore.

John Dory

The final main course was Venison with roasted parsnips, spiced bread sauce, elderberries, and creamed potatoes flavoured with yeast. I am not sure if it is my Irish heritage kicking in but there is always something deeply comforting about a good old meat and potato dinner. I enjoyed every bit of this course, including dare I say, the parsnips ;)

 As a surprise pre-dessert course, out came a Deconstructed Carrot Cake - carrot sorbet, sponge cake, and spiced cream cheese. I seem to have been slow to pick up on this deconstructed trend that is all the rage in the foodie world but I am so glad to have been enlightened - tasty and creative.. win win.

Deconstructed Carrot Cake

Wrapping up this night of gluttony was in my opinion the master piece of the menu - the 64% Madagascan Chocolate Souffle with toasted barely and organic. Rich chocolate blend, unique ice cream flavour and a soft moist texture - heaven on a plate!

Madagascan Chocolate Souffle

So there it is - the good, the bad, and the countless glasses of wine. Well worth a visit but I certainly wouldn't be rushing back for the tasting menu, though perhaps the 4 course option may give you more bang for your buck!


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