Opened in early 2012 by Eamon O’Reilly (One Pico) with Finnish chef, Mickael Viljanen in charge of the kitchen, The Greenhouse, located on Dawson Street near St Stephen’s Green, showcases the very best of Irish cuisine. Sumptuous tastes, wonderful flavour combinations and innovative presentation led to plaudits galore for The Greenhouse since opening but does it still have it?
Relatively unassuming from the outside, small frontage, downstairs of an office block, inside it’s greys, taupes and bluey greens, velvet chairs and banquettes, voile and metallics, dark woods – an elegant and refined space.
When The Greenhouse first opened we visited a few times in that year or so, however we hadn’t been back in a while so were delighted to receive a voucher from my sister for Christmas. We had fond memories of the fantastic food, presentation and flavours…delights such as mini meringues filled with creamy herring roe with powdered bacon fat, Foie gras royale with frozen apple sorbet and truffle brioche, Celeriac baked in rye with duck hearts and truffle, hazelnut and sorrel, rhubarb and rose water dessert…
We decided to go for lunch and have a loungy easy Saturday afternoon in town. At lunch the menu is a 2 course (€29) or 3 course (€32) offering and there’s also a 5 course tasting menu (€55) with matching wines (€40). If you go in the evening, there’s a 6 course tasting menu (€85) with paired wines (€48), a 5 Course surprise tasting menu (€75) with paired wines (€40) or the set dinner menu (€65).
We chose the 3 course lunch menu for this visit, along with a bottle of Riesling trocken, Emrich-Schönleber, Nahe 2012 (€48). A very pleasing white wine, ideal for lunchtime as its light and refreshing, we were more than happy with our wine choice.
Far better than any words I can write here, here is the food we enjoyed at The Greenhouse, prepare to drool…
The amuse bouche were little bites of loveliness, amazing flavours bursting in your mouth and a sign of what was to come. Of the starters, the celeriac veloute was a wonder… the hint of truffle, crunch of hazelnuts, it just worked so well. The salmon less so, while beautiful on the plate, it was so cold, that it was hard to discern the individual flavours.
It would be difficult to find a plate of food prettier than the pork one… the colours, oranges and yellows jumping off the plate was simply stunning to look at. The souffle tasted just as good (probably better) than the picture suggests and for me easily the best thing I ate (this is unusual for me as I’m normally much more savoury than sweet!).
The cheese was a generous portion, decent chunks of 3 cheese varieties but the cheeses were somewhat bland to taste and while all eaten, he declared next time he would probably go for the souffle! With our cheese and dessert we ordered 2 glasses of red wine. There’s only 3 options by the glass in wine, so we chose a French red, Coteaux du Languedoc (€11). It wouldn’t be a wine I’d choose but out of the 3 seemed the best for us. It would be great to see more wines by the glass. Particularly in light of the tasting menus with matching wines which means there are wines open that could be offered by the glass too.
We ordered espressos to finish off then which came with a chocolate truffle served from a magnificent box full of these gorgeous truffles!
Our total bill including the 3 course lunch, a bottle of white wine, 2 glasses of red wine and 2 espressos came to €141.90 (not including service). To my mind this represents good value for what we had, for the quality of the food and cooking, the beautiful Riesling, efficient service and a nice ambience.
Back to the question I asked myself at the start, does The Greenhouse still have it? It has something special, of that there is no question so the answer is yes, it does have it. Probably not quite as innovative as when it first opened, is that our perception though as food and restaurants in general have upped their game or a reflection directly on The Greenhouse… For sure, The Greenhouse is a bastion of great cooking, wonderful presentation and the kitchen is the star of the show here.
It’s a small restaurant that can tend towards feeling ever so slightly cramped and this takes away (in a small part) from the food and work of the kitchen. A little more space between the tables so you’re not quite as close to neighbours, it would be hard to find fault.
For a fine dining experience in Dublin it’s hard to look past The Greenhouse (michelin star or not) – just look at the pictures of the food to see that shine through…
The Greenhouse | off St.Stephens Green, Dawson St, Dublin 2 | Ph: (01) 6767015 | firstname.lastname@example.org