After my first Michelin experience in L’Ecrivian I was dying to check out Chapter One. I called to reserve a table for dinner at the last minute (on a Wednesday). The only seating time available was for 5.45pm and they needed the table back by 7pm. Seeing as I was soon off to work in Scotland and wanted to add another Michelin restaurant onto my done list, we decided to take it. We arrived a bit early as we thought we might have got caught in traffic. Greeted at the front door, we were the first people in. The hostess took our coats and we were brought to our table. The restaurant’s décor is both contemporary and simplistic; green carpet, a mix of bricks and white colour walls decorated by a few pieces of art. There is also a sense of elegance with dark black colour chairs paired with freshly pressed white linen covered tables. There is an excellent selection of dishes on the pre-theatre menu and 3 courses only costs €37.50. Excellent value considering it has a Michelin star and voted Ireland’s best restaurant 2011. Dining with Dad and my brother we all decided to order different dishes so we could sample from each other.
Parfait of Ardsallagh goats cheese, with spring vegetables and olive oil, apple balsamic vinegar (ME) Black pudding and veal sweet bread boudin, with smoked bacon and organic egg poached in red wine, parsnip puree and horseradish glaze (J) Cured organic seatrout, leek and mandarin vinaigrette, hazelnuts and cold pressed rapeseed oil (DAD) ***** Spiced daube of beef, cevenne onion and thyme, sarawak pepper cream, cauliflower and potato gratin (DAD) Hake,cooked with seaweed and Japanese salt, broccoli puree and lemon emulsion, crab beignet (ME) Slow cooked shoulder of spring lamb, carrots cooked in honey and black pepper with roast grelotte onions and caper sprout puree (J) ***** Warm chocolate mousse, caramel jelly, espresso mousse, lime ice cream and honeycomb Chilled fermented plum consommé with lemon shortbread and crème fraiche ice cream, apple balsamic vinegar meringue Selection of cheese
The food was amazing, beautifully presented and most importantly tasted great. All the dishes came out quite fast and we weren’t waiting long between courses. The portion sizes were very good and every plate was sent back to the kitchen licked clean! Jason had picked the best dishes of the evening, both the pudding and lamb were exceptional. We shared all the desserts, although I mainly devoured the cheese. The only fault I have about Chapter One is that personally I felt the service here was very impersonal and a bit rushed. There were plenty of waiting staff, supervisors and managers around but none of them seemed to be bothered to spark up a conversation. Maybe it’s because they wanted our table back as soon as possible. (When we were leaving there were plenty of other tables vacant). On the way out, the manager brought me into the kitchen to have a look at their operation. It is an impressive kitchen, very clean modern and cleverly ergonomically designed. As a chef, I was a strong believer that people dined out for the quality of food, but now I realise that service is equally as important and combine the two together for an unforgettable dining experience. We still had an enjoyable dinner and will visit again. Hopefully the staff will pluck up a bit of courage and be a bit more chatty and more welcoming the next time around.