Eamonn O’Reilly’s new venture, The Greenhouse, is a tricky enough place to find out about. Its name confounds the notion of SEO, and even the website is still hosted through the name of its predecessor, Bleu. This shows a level of confidence in word of mouth that a lot of businesses would not risk in this day and age. However, after a meal there, I see exactly why. The Greenhouse is providing a calibre of cooking which Dublin has not yet seen, and word of mouth and the inevitable accolades (I think a Michelin star would not be overreaching and judging by the influx of top Dublin chefs visiting, I’m not the only one) which will be seen in coming months should see them set.
The space is good, small enough to feel intimate but with enough tables to have a buzz, and the staff are professional and welcoming. There is a choice of a seven course menu for 78 euro, or two or three courses from the above for 45/56, with choice of two starters, two mains, and two desserts.
Chef Mickael Viljanen, previously of Gregan’s Castle, has devised a menu few chefs would risk with the generally slightly squeamish Irish market. Hearts, sweet meats, tongue and eel all feature, in addition to flavours and ingredients never heard of before on Dawson Street. I’m still not entirely clear on what Sea Buckthorn is or where it came from, but I like it.
Through a dining party of four, we managed to try each of the options for the three course menu. Portions are well sized providing a comfortably filling experience, especially when accompanied by incredible miniature rye bread loaves, and a fantastic amuse bouche of parmesan custard and mushroom sabayon. The foie gras starter was a nice twist on the more classic parfait, a rich, creamy mousse with a nice hint of apple to cut through the rich flavour a bit accompanied by a fantastic truffle brioche. The mackerel eel and tongue cannelloni was also an unusual and well paired combination. The 36 hour veal however was the standout, especially with an incredible roasted aubergine accompaniment and one of my personal favourites, pan fried sweetbreads (I know, the idea of them is awful, but they taste absolutely beautiful). The cod was beautifully executed, but perhaps the least innovative of the dishes. The one off note was the clumsy suggestion of a cheese course, followed by a failure to explain the cheeses then presented, which was a pity as there was not one obvious choice and plenty I would have liked to know more about, but this is presumably just a teething issue.
I am usually not a huge fan of dessert, but both dishes were again fantastic and unusual, providing a wonderfully light and refreshing end. The aforementioned sea buckthorn appeared in a variety of guises (parfait, sorbet etc), and a rhubarb, rosewater and white chocolate combination formed the other. Rosewater is an ingredient I love in desserts, and definitely one that is underutilised outside of Middle Eastern restaurants.
The drinks pairings for the meal also consisted of unusual and well thought out choices, with several of the choices specially imported by the Greenhouse and not generally available in Ireland. I would never, in a million years, have thought of pairing cider with foie gras, but the combination was incredible and accentuated the apple accents of the dish. Throughout the pairings, the sommelier, Lorraine, was on hand to discuss the wines and drinks, and explain her more unusual suggestions and ideas, none of which put a foot wrong. The Ciu Ciu Pecorino was a particular favourite I am now trying to track down at home in London.
I did not take any pictures, although several diners were avidly snapping throughout their meals (and the website has some lovely ones here), because I was too busy diving into each course to delay with such activities. If you go to one restaurant this year, it has to be this one.
The Greenhouse, Dawson Street, Dublin 2 (01) 6767015