This restaurant has caused quite a stir since it first opened. I had heard about head chef Mickael Viljanen from when he was in Gregan’s Castle. The words “Exciting food” were bandied about. When the greenhouse opened to very strong reviews- I waited to hear what the grapevine would say. Without fail, nothing but positive things came back about the work in the kitchen. These reports came from friends who are very hard to please. All I needed was an excuse to go. When one arose, I leapt at the opportunity.
We were seated at banquette seating at the back of the restaurant. The soft furnishing and colours make the diners feel very cosy in what is effectively a glass block. As it was a bit of an occasion we decided the prudent thing to do would be to order the 7 course tasting menu. We told the maître d this. Upon which he did some thing rather peculiar. He asked would we not be interested in the chef’s surprise 5 course? Eh no. Why would a restaurant try to sell a cheaper menu? In reality perhaps the kitchen were in trouble/short-staffed and they wanted to limit the courses going out. Anyways it wasn’t a great start. Just odd and we declined his suggestion. In addition to this the service throughout the meal was a little haphazard. I have the feeling our waiter may have been new(ish) and often his explanation of the various elements on the plate lacked any sort of detail.
The amuse-bouche were a pleasure to look at. Fennel meringues with an anchovy cream were a burst of flavour. Beetroot marshmallows were a big hit visually but lacked any depth of beetroot flavour. Little tartlets with a blue cheese filling were all sorts of salty goodness. In addition there were slightly larger chicken liver parfait tartlets too served with vanilla gel and gingerbread. Again there was no taste of gingerbread-but it was still delicious. I had major issues with the bread. It is far too delicious. It was a struggle not to fill up on it before the courses started arriving.
The first course of foie gras royale was a special bit of cooking. I don’t like foie gras. I loved this though. Served with various incarnations of apple coming in the shape of batons and gel. Add in a sliver of smoked eel, it made for an absolutely stunning flavour combination.
The langoustine with Brussels sprout and hazelnut was a bit of a hit and miss for me. I felt overall the dish was a little bitter and lacked balance. Saying that, it was still perfectly edible and I ate every bit.
Potato risotto was up next. Potato risotto is a dish I’m not sure about. If you want to feed me risotto, give me risotto. Potato risotto is either mash or cooked a little under. It is very hard to make the little shards retain their shape without it being undercooked. This was a very flavoursome dish but again I wasn’t wowed by its texture.
The fish course of glazed cod was stunning. It was served with an artichoke skin, and a scallop. Everything was cooked wonderfully and the flavours all worked together.
Up next was Bambi. Some delightfully rare venison was served with smoked milk, chanterelle, celeriac and elderberry. It was a glorious bit of meat cooked quite rare. It was full of savoury autumnal flavours and for me was probably the best course.
The first dessert was a sea buckthorn cream, gel and a caramel shard. I had never heard of this berry before let alone tasted it. I liked how light a plate of food it was after the heavier flavours of the preceding courses.
Dessert two was probably my least favourite course of the evening. It was a particularly nice chocolate disk in the center, imagine a dense mousse style creature. Then around it were dots of bergamot gel, prune and there was an accompanying hazelnut oil ice cream. Admittedly prune and bergamot are not my favourite flavours but I just felt this dish was a collection of random elements.
The petit fours were excellent with the exception of the smoked fudge. It was just too strong a taste at that stage in proceedings. The mini rum babas were a triumph. I would have eaten 7 courses of them, with their accompanying cream. The macaroons were also very pleasant creatures and the passionfruit chocolates were a zingy finish.
Some people talk about the Greenhouse as if it’s a religious experience. That it will change your life etc. It didn’t. Is it talented cooking? Without doubt. How other venues in Dublin have a star and this place doesn’t is beyond me. This truly is some of the most exciting cooking in Dublin. We all agreed though that the kitchen was let down slightly by the slightly skittish service front of house.
Would I go back? Definitely.
(I do better in soft lighting, but my photos don’t. I would be doing a disservice to the food to republish them here.)