Can you believe I went to Dublin and found a bar with locals in it? Quite an achievement when the city gets more than seven million visitors a year! The Palace Bar is a wee gem just a five minute walk from the tourist throng at Temple Bar. The traditional Victorian pub, located on Fleet Street, has an excellent range of Irish whiskeys which reflect the recent resurgence in the industry which had all but died out. Walking into the pub, I got the feeling that the world had been put to rights here many a time. This was a talking pub. Where generations have met and tall tales have been told.
We were served by Willie Ahern, whose father owns the bar. Willie’s grandfather bought the bar in 1946 and it has stayed in the family since then. One of the things that makes The Palace Bar stand out is that it boasts its very own whiskey. In years gone by, it was common place for bars to distil their own spirits. My husband is a whisky fan, so between pints of Guinness, he tried out Palace Bar Whiskey. The 14 year old single malt (which contains malt of up to 21 years in age) got a big thumbs up and compared favourably to some of his favourite Scotch. In fact, it was so good he had to have a second nip to be sure he really liked it. There are only 1,000 bottles being produced in this run and you can pick it up online here.
After checking out a few of the city’s bars, it was time to cross the river for dinner at Chapter One restaurant. The restaurant is one of five Michelin star eateries in Dublin and I chose it based on a recommendation from a friend. The restaurant is very popular, so booking is essential.
Upon ringing the bell, we received a warm Irish welcome from co-owner and maître d’, Martin Corbett. The basement level restaurant is still surprisingly bright with a minimalist feel and some beautiful pieces of art.
From the Wicklow lamb to the Kilkenny veal, it was clear from looking at the menu that the restaurant had put a great deal of thought in to using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. The pre-theatre menu is fantastic value at £27 (€37.50) for three courses. At our request, the wine sommelier chose some excellent wines to accompany each dish for us.
To start, I opted for Parmesan ravioli with asparagus and a lemon emulsion. My husband went for the carpaccio of rose veal which was served with black beluga lentils. Both dishes were beautifully presented. I was pleased to see the chef had taken advantage of the relatively short asparagus season; my pasta dish tasted like summer on a plate.
For our mains, Mr GvF chose the loin of pork with cabbage and smoked buttermilk mash, while I went for the short rib of beef. The beef was slow-cooked to perfection and came with a side of the best cheesy gnocchi I’ve ever tasted. I literally could eat that gnocchi every day; the best comfort food ever!
To finish we went for the organic ice cream with honeycomb and the chocolate mousse. The desserts were indulgent but not overly heavy and there was a lovely variation in texture and flavour.
From start to finish, the Chapter One experience was a delight. The personal, knowledgeable service and the wonderful food mean that the restaurant is definitely in my 2015 dining highlights. It is also, without doubt, the best value Michelin star restaurant I’ve visited!