And as it has become a blur in the corner of our eye, it has also come to be something of a salutary lesson.
People with long memories would know that there was once another, different Eden Restaurant in Dublin; it was, in fact, a Celtic Tiger success story for its owner Jay Bourke, and the original eatery lay splendidly positioned in Temple Bar’s Meeting House Square up until a few years ago.
It had become something of a totem for the spend-spend-spend ethos enveloping the country, and was visited by varying shades of the great, the good and the celebrity-oriented. But then, as happened elsewhere, numbers dwindled and the money ran out.
Bourke, however, has an eye for a cool-looking property, and a few years ago he spotted that Number 7 South William Street — once the home of ‘beauty parlour’, Nue Blue Eriu — was both pretty and vacant.
Cue the start of new Eden (with a Bar & Grill attached to its name), now relocated bang in the centre of what the tastemakers are calling ‘Dublin’s Creative Quarter’.
Certainly, Eden Bar & Grill is in a fabulous spot — minutes away from Grafton Street and sandwiched between the rear of Powerscourt Town Centre and the back entrance of George’s Street Arcade, parallel to Drury and North Great George’s Streets, and adjacent to Wicklow Street.
In short, it couldn’t be better placed, yet as we noted at the very beginning — looks can be deceptive, and as we approach the entrance (a smallish window emblazoned with the venue name, making it difficult to see inside) we think we may have made a mistake.
There are three of us, and we don’t want to spend a packet, so (having previously checked out the website) we roll up in time to take advantage of its Early Bird menu.
Available from Thursday-Saturday (5.30pm-6.45pm) and Sunday-Wednesday (all evening), the price is right: two courses for €20, three for €24.50.
The entrance is compact, but as soon as we walk forward several paces, the room broadens out into a very stylish bar area, with a row of stools by the counter — clearly the ‘Bar’ part of the venue’s name is not just for show, so if you want to pop in here for a quiet drink (from cocktails to a range of draught beer/lager) before your evening really kicks off, then it’s as good if not better a place than any.
From the bar section, the rooms broadens out even further into a remarkable open space that is festooned with large plants and brightened via high atrium stained-glass skylights; there is also an open kitchen by which to see the chefs whip up a culinary storm.
Over one large, big-get-together table is a wood-turned sculpture of a pig apparently diving down. The effect is impressive — Belle Époque and rock’n’roll wrapped up in one very appealing package.
Service is sharp, too — no sooner had we sat down than a plate of fresh brown bread and soft butter (instant brownie points — butter direct from the fridge is a total no-no) and a jug of water (enhanced by lemon and orange slices) lands on our table.
From the Early Bird menu we choose Duck Liver parfait (with mixed berry jelly, cherry compote, crispy bacon and toasted brioche); grilled asparagus (with crispy duck egg, Parma ham, hollandaise and herb oil); and goat’s cheese beignet (with baby spinach, beetroot and apple remoulade). All three are superb.
With a comfortable time passing between courses, the mains arrive: roast rainbow trout (with baby potato, balsamic beets, horseradish yoghurt, and red chard; risotto (with porcini mushroom, shaved Parmesan, and truffle oil); and duck leg confit (with potato/parsnip mash, green cabbage, and pancetta jus).
We share one dessert (chocolate mousse, with raspberry compote and crème chantilly) and a bottle of Il Papavero Pinot Grigio 2013 — the wine is so crisp it almost cracks as you sip it.
We conclude that, aside from overuse of watercress as a garnish across too many dishes, this is a brilliant value meal in a really cool (but not achingly hip) restaurant. The service is up to speed, the food fresh, and the entire enterprise is full of wit, panache and gumption — ingredients not always in full supply in the industry.
Dinner (Early Bird) for three, with a bottle of wine, came to €94.50, plus €10 tip.
Mon-Thurs/Sun, 12-4pm; 5.30-10pm; Fri-Sat, 12-4pm; 5.30-10.30pm
A cool, non-trendy, and atmospheric restaurant in a city centre location that ticks all of the boxes.
Eden Bar & Grill,
7 South William Street,