Now that I’m back in Dublin, I couldn’t help but remember all the exquisite meals I had last time I was here. There’s no doubt that Dublin certainly has become an international city for foodies — there’s clearly more evidence of this every time I return. (See Dublin food posts)
I learn that Eden Bar & Grill, centrally located in the heart of Dublin’s city center on South William Street (parallel to the famous shopping and nightlife street Grafton Street), is over 20 years old. They have a fairly old established cook book from the original launch that has many of their earliest recipes including one which remains on the menu today — Eden Smokies with smoked haddock, cherry tomatoes, pesto, capers and croutons. It is apparently a local favorite. They are also known for their early bird menu which offers two courses for E20 and three courses for only E24.50.
Given that it was fall when I visited (early November), beets were in abundance throughout the menu and since I am a huge beet lover, I was not disappointed. Eden’s menu is a mishmash of French, Irish, Mediterranean and Hungarian influence. Nope, no typo there — the Hungarian influence is largely due to its new Hungarian born lead chef Tomas Hanail. What’s ironic is that I had the ca’di Italia Ponti Nero d’Avola with dinner, a serious Italian wine and my waiter Christian was from Mexico.
They call themselves a 21st century Belle Opaque restaurant but the mashing of cultures and influences is what makes it most interesting in addition to its very eclectic and modern romantic ambiance. Note that there is a delicious Moroccan and Indian restaurant within a stone’s throw of its doors.
Eden Bar & Grill tends to be a little more traditional than some of the more ethic neighbors and the service is well….top notch. Let’s look at some of their dishes….
For starters, while the menu changes, my options included spinach gnocchi with ricotta, sage, pine nuts and herb oil, Goat’s Cheese Beignet with baby spinach and beetroot and Gambas Prawns on toast with chorizo chips, scallions and basil aioli. There is also a delicious duck liver parfait with pineapple chutney, ginger, jelly, smoked bacon and brioche.
Additionally, they offer a lighter pan seared scallops starter, which is served with red pepper cream sauce, pearl onions and crispy Pancetta. I tried the Smoked Duck Breast Salad with oranges, almond powder (it looks like goat cheese but its not), mixed leaves and orange vinaigrette and the Beef Carpaccio with parsley jelly, red onion and potato salad with pickled rainbow radish (both pictured above). While I hear that the salad is more popular and I’m a huge fan of duck, the carpaccio won hands down because of Tomas’ unusual preparation of a potato salad which he served atop the carpaccio. The result was an unusually creative blend of Irish and Hungarian styles of cooking with a modern flare.
For mains, you can order a free range chicken with scallions, broad beans, roast onion puree, fondant potato and hazelnut, an onion tart with beets (they were so delicious), sauteed, spinach, mushrooms and herb oil or the delicious slow cooked feather blade with soft parmesan polenta, spinach and a confit tomato puree. I tried the Duck Breast main, which he served with baby beets, young carrots, shallots, sarladaise potato and port syrup. The beets just melted in your mouth, thanks to a combination of sauteed perfection and just enough port syrup to make it pop in your mouth without being too sweet.
While I really wanted to try their traditional and infamous Lamb Shank which they serve with mash, curly kale, grilled baby leeks and smoked bacon (YUM!!), my second try was on the lighter side — I opted for the Roast Rainbow Trout with baby potatoes (perfectly done I might add), balsamic beets (so so tender), horseradish yoghurt and a red chard.
Desserts were equally tasty, my favorite being the Coconut Panna Cotta with passion fruit jelly and passion fruit sorbet (The Merchant in Boston — eat your heart out! We loved your elderberry Panna Cotta but I have to say this one surpassed it). Other worthwhile mentions include the Chocolate Mousse with raspberry compote and creme chantilly and the orange tarte with raisin cream, white chocolate crumb and vanilla ice cream.
Eden Bar & Grill
7 South William Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
On my second night in Dublin, I went to Ely Restaurant, which has a few locations in the city and it should be no surprise that I ended up in their very central location which in addition to its fine cuisine, touts a wide variety of international wines. Ely’s wine bar is along Ely Place and is a sustainable organic farm-to-table style restaurant, whose owners are clearly proud of their heritage.
All the beef and pork is sourced through their family farm in Burren County, Clare. Their ‘Craggy Island’ lamb (which I tried), comes from their neighboring organic farmer. Before I dove into the delicious Irish meat dishes, I kicked off the evening with fresh oysters on the half shell from Carlingford (below), which I paired with a 2012 French Sancerre and the Austrian Sepp Moser von den Terrassen Gruner Veltliner Krem Stal. While it was biodynamic, I wasn’t a fan of it compared to the crisper sancerre, which was 100% sauvignon blanc and a better choice with the oysters.
Also worth mentioning is the Dingle Bay Irish brown crab and smoked Irish salmon, which they serve with apple, coriander and a lemon gel. The salmon comes from a family run organic farm — Birgitte Curtin and her husband Peter — who the restaurant staff praised over and over again. She’s apparently fairly well known for her smokehouse in Burren, which is a region in the southwest of Ireland.
Their organic Burren beef carpaccio with pinenuts, rocket and parmesan was to die-for….at this point, I had moved onto the 2012 Domaine Decelle Villa Pinot Boutgognue at their recommendation — Yum!
For mains, as mentioned above, we went for the organic Burren ‘Craggy Island’ rump of lamb, which was served with sweet potato, beetroot (the Irish really know how to cook beets), fromage blanc, almonds and basil, as well as the Co. Cavan Thornill duck breast, which was sliced and served with roast cauliflower, prune puree, pumpkin and coriander. (both pictured below). We paired these dishes with a Kanonkop Kadette Pinotage/Cab/Merlot from Stellenbosch (I was thrilled to see a South African wine on the menu) and a 2010 Chateaux Fongaban Puisseguin St. Emilion, which was delicious for a biodynamic wine.
Also very special on the menu is their chargrilled Augrim wild partridge in a homemade truffle linguine, Irish black Kale and smoked Gubbeen, which is a cheese from Cork. It tasted a bit like pigeon, so had a gamey flavor to it, yet it had a lot more punch when combined with the richness of the truffle. The blend of ingredients was just “perfect.”
There were plenty of gluten and dairy free options to choose from as well as lighter desserts. That said, if you did want to pour it on and don’t care about the calories or fat, they offer a number of scrumptious cream-rich choices which were also beautifully displayed. (below). Two thumbs up! The service and attention to detail and top notch service floored us.
Ely Restaurant / Ely Wine Bar
22 Ely Place
Dublin 2, Ireland
Note: I was hosted however all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.