Took my fiance here for her birthday dinner as she had mentioned she'd like to go here at least a hundred times. Booked online through Top Table and phoned the day before to confirm my booking. Mentioned that it was a birthday treat if they could do anything special.
The restaurant is located about 15 paces from the entrance to Stephens Green shopping centre, no walk at all. The main room is quite well lit, not too bright, not too dark and has a nice ambience. We were seated at a window table and were given our menus.
We wanted the tasting menu but you have a choice of two, you can the 8 course menu as printed or you can have the 8 course "surprise" menu. We chose that. They asked us a couple of questions about what we liked / disliked and we waited...
One thing i'd like to say straight away is the service was excellent and the staff were all very friendly. I'd never been to a Michelin Star restaurant before and the only thing that put me off was the snooty reputation that staff can sometimes have, especially the sommelier. I was driving and my partnet doesnt drink much, so she had a gin and I had a JD and we were quite happy with that. I told the sommelier that we wouldn't be having any wine that night and we was perfectly nice and cheery. I did have a look at the wine menu and there is an extensive list to suit all pockets, they're not all very expensive wines, so another myth removed.
Each dish ir brought to the table and laid before you at the same time, that is, all guests receive their plate at the exact same time and a ny time you get up from your table or sit back down, their is a member of staff to tuck in your chair. Michelin stars are all about the theatrics as well as the taste and it's worth it,
So, the 8 course tasting menu. I don't like seafood but i didn't say that as I wanted to try things. I figured that if I'm going to try certain fishes I should do them in a Michelin star rerstaurant!
First course- smoke mackerel that was served in a glass filled with smoke! and on top was a cocktail glass filled with a greeny clear liquid that was actually a tomato gazpacho. The fish was absolutely gorgeous! And i don't like fish!
Second course- John Dory (fish) served with pea shoots and a pea crisp and a hot an cold pea soup served in a shot glass. The fish was delicate and absolutely delicious!
Third Course - breast of quail served with a quail consomme. This was ok, lacking in any flavour.
Fourth Course - Sea urchins! These were wheeled in on a large silver bowl on a trolley to the table. Liquid nitrogen was poured over which roard and bubbled, serving smoke and smell of the sea all over the table ( and the surrounding tables too ). This was the big wow moment of the meal. It's not every day you get to try sea urchins. They were served in their shell? which was very impressive and unusual to look at . Sort of a hollowed out porcupine. Filled with a fishy creamy sauce with a bit of slmiy urchin on the bottom. I've read that these are known as the fois gras of the sea. They tasted quite nice , you'd only want one, very fishy.
Fifth course - I had nettle and thyme ( I love thyme ) sorbet with Absolout Citron poured over it and my companion had grape and something sorbet with Bombay Sapphire pored over it. palate cleansers and did their job, very refreshing.
Sixth course - Milk fed veal served pomme puree and a large flake looking thing that was presumably something related to the veal but tasted horrible. just a burnt taste. The veal was disappointing and very bland.
Seventh course - A pre-dessert of mango creme brulee and passion fruit desert. Served on a spoon so it's only a little bit but was very tasty.
Eighth course - The dessert was a king of small pastry finger with creme patisserie and raspberries and dark chocolate. it was the most disappointing part of the meal. Wasn't very good and i was surprised that in a tasting menu, the dessert was so poor. Very poor and instantly forgetable.
Tea ( which cost extra ( about 12 euro each I think ) was served next with a line of petit fours. We're not dark chocolate fans,a little bit is fine but each and every petit four was dark chocolate which was annoying. There was also a small slab of dark chocolate which had Happy Birthday piped on it. As it was again more bloody dark chocolate, it went untouched.
Yes, the more I think about it, the more I think the whole wonderful emal was seriously let down by the dessert and sweet items.
The tea was the fancist tea I've ever had. I had Earl Grey and this was brought on a wooden board with two tea pots. One was filled with hot water which was then poured over ( yes over!) the other one, but the first one remained dry. How'd they do that? Wonderful theatricality!
Oh, i forgot one of the courses was Fois Gras done thrr different ways. Delicious but you wouldn't want to eat a lot. Whilst it is flavourful, it is soooo rich! It's really like eating fat, it reminds me of the fat off a steak. I ate mine but my companion left hers, too rich.
The rolls served with the meal from a bread basket were quite nice but didn't wow me and they were cold. Would have been much better if they could have been served warm.
The Sea Urchinsmpressed so much that I asked could the shells be washed out so we could take them home as they'd be such a talking point and so I did and they are.
I would thoroughly recommend Thorntons. The bill for 2 tasting menus, a gin & tonic, a JD & diet coke and 2 teas came to just shy of 300 euros. Pricey yes but it wasn't that badly priced. It's a michelin star restauarnt and you are paying for the high quality food and the theatre and the ambience. I'm glad we went there and we tried it.. If you want to go, go...you'll enjoy it. The staff are wonderful and very welcoming. There is no snootiness and it was a wonderful evening. The booking was for 8pm but we arrived early at 730 on a Wednesday evening and were seated right away. I think we left at around 1130 so we had a great full evening of great food, great service, wonderful theatrics and overall a great experience.
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