A Guil­baud meal will cost you but don’t moan – it’s worth ev­ery cent

Irish Daily Mail - - Food And Wine - RESTAU­RANT PA­TRICK GUIL­BAUD 21 Up­per Mer­rion Street Dublin 2 Phone: 01 676 4192 restau­rant­patrick­guil­baud.ie

IT’S as con­stant as the North Star, as pre­dictable as Oc­to­ber fol­low­ing Septem­ber. When­ever I write about Pa­trick Guil­baud’s, some­one will claim that spend­ing this kind of money on a meal is morally in­de­fen­si­ble when there are home­less on the streets and refugees try­ing to cross the Med.

They never raise this when I’m writ­ing about any­where else, so I’m a lit­tle puz­zled – while fully ac­cept­ing that the plight of the home­less and the refugees are shock­ing scan­dals.

The bill for our lunch – and it was vir­tu­ally flaw­less, a con­cen­trated form of plea­sure that can never be done cheaply – by the time we had added an ap­pro­pri­ate tip came to a lit­tle less than the price of three tick­ets to see Neil Di­a­mond later this month. In the con­text of the pub, it amounted to be­tween 40 and 50 pints of beer. It was about the same as four rea­son­ably po­si­tioned seats for Ire­land v Ar­gentina at what I still call Lans­downe Road. The best seats cost more.

So, like ev­ery­thing else, it’s all rel­a­tive. But be­cause it in­volves food, it can be an emo­tive is­sue. I’m not at all sure that this coun­try has fully re­cov­ered from the Great Famine. Any­way, to ta­ble! The stan­dard was set with an amuse bouche of star­tling in­ten­sity com­bined with ethe­real light­ness: a foam of bril­liantly green gar­den peas with tiny nuggets of ham and equally minute crou­tons for crunch. It wak­ened the palate.

Then came tataki of Ir­ish blue fin tuna, in other words the fish had been seared on the out­side for mere sec­onds and then sliced to re­veal per­fectly raw flesh in squares, each framed by its barely cooked out­side. Ir­ish tuna has more tex­ture than tuna from warmer waters and this de­gree of chew made a pleas­ant change.

Amalfi lemon oil cut the rich­ness while a tart purée of av­o­cado, which at first I took to be a mas­sive pay­load of wasabi, along with toko cros­tini, fin­ished this del­i­cate, flavour-packed starter.

By Guil­baud’s stan­dards our other starter was very sim­ple: just wafer thin slices of barely cooked pink beet­root dressed with can­died wal­nuts and coun­ter­pointed by sharp, salty Ard­sal­lagh goat’s cheese. Pretty as a pic­ture, we felt it would have been even bet­ter with a slightly higher pro­por­tion of cheese.

In the mains, we knew what to ex­pect in ‘fil­let of wild hal­ibut’ with cit­rus but what was ‘car­rot and tan­doori’? The an­swer was a vel­vet smooth, but­tery purée of car­rot with a haunt­ing, sub­tle, al­most dis­tant sug­ges­tion of curry spices. With fish cooked to the nano-sec­ond and the tart bal­ance of pink grape­fruit, this was an un­ex­pected de­light.

Veal wrapped in pro­sciutto and cooked to the light­est of pinks was topped with sliced ceps and a ravi­olo (or pasta par­cel) of more wild mush­rooms. A fab­u­lously con­cen­trated jus and toasted hazel­nuts em­pha­sised the sea­son­al­ity and earth­i­ness of the dish.

At pud­ding, a pear and chest­nut cro­quant (a per­fect lit­tle cylin­der of pa­perthin crisp caramel filled with the purée) was so light it threat­ened to fly away, de­spite its deep taste which was fur­ther en­hanced by a Poire Wil­liams sor­bet.

Im­pres­sive and lovely as this was, it was sur­passed by the sim­pler hot Gua­naja choco­late fon­dant with a stout ice cream: rich, bit­ter, sweet, malty, amaz­ing.

We asked the new som­me­lier, Joey Scan­lon, to pick a glass of wine to match each course and we were stunned by his unerring judge­ment and also by his youth. He in­tro­duced us to wines which were new to us and, sim­ply, fas­ci­nat­ing.

So not only does RPG pro­duce stun­ning food, but it de­liv­ers an­other hemi­sphere of plea­sure from the cel­lar to cre­ate the per­fect whole. Its re­cent re­fur­bish­ment in­tro­duces sub­tle el­e­ments of art deco and a gold leaf ceil­ing. It’s a tem­ple of gas­tron­omy.

Our lunch was stel­lar, as was the ser­vice which de­liv­ered it. The cost, if you have been un­able to work it out from my ear­lier com­par­isons, was €300, or a lit­tle over twice what reg­u­lar read­ers will re­call I paid for a to­tally in­dif­fer­ent meal in one of Dublin’s newer, and more fashionable, places in re­cent months.

Tom Door­ley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.