So it’s here, it’s open for lunch and dinner and you simply must go darling! Glover’s Alley (GA) is a self declared ‘Luxury Restaurant’ and has been rather hyped, but for once it’s understandable.
Head chef Andy McFadden is a graduate of Tallaght IT and has been wowing London for years (in l’Autre Pied and Pied à Terre) — and add in GA poaching some of the best staff in the city including Ed Joliffe (formerly Chapter One) as GM, and James Brooke as head sommelier (formerly Guilbauds).
GA occupies the space that was once Thorntons, a restaurant that had wonderful cooking but where everyone seemed to hate the room.
Personally I never minded it but the revamp is an emphatic improvement — 1930s Deco with mirrors on the ceiling to open out the room and a more convivial dining experience in general.
I visited GA for both lunch and dinner and in daylight the pastel pinks almost overwhelmed (they work better at night), but I must admit the decor did sync rather beautifully with Aoife Noonan’s sublime rhubarb and grapefruit desserts.
The lunch menu is €35 for two courses and €45 for three, and for our lunch we received three amuse bouche, a pre-dessert and petit-fours making it an eight course meal for two for €123(including a bottle of house wine). For dinner you will struggle to get out for less than €200 per couple but this is similar to Chapter One and you can double that for Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.
So let’s be clear, GA is fine dining, a kind of food theatre experience, you are paying for all those extra staff, their knowledge and professionalism and also for expensive ingredients (treated simply) and simple ingredients treated expensively — there is no point complaining about fussiness or fripperies, they are part of the deal — bottom line, does it taste good?
Jerusalem Artichokes appeared on both the lunch and dinner menu — both versions were stunningly good and gave full expression to this most underrated of vegetables.
Roasted, pickled, dehydrated and formed into a smoked consommé bringing out a dozen textures and flavours — a kind of genius masterclass on what you can do with a humble root vegetable — throw in an ethereal jus and judicious use of winter truffle and you are in two Michelin Star territory.
But back to earth — I was underwhelmed by the stodgy Parmesan Gougère which was my first taste for lunch and dinner, the breads could be lighter and some of the saucing was clumsy.
Case in point — the joy of my guest’s artichokes starter was contrasted by my Veal Sweetbread which were deep-fried a few seconds too long and served with XO sauce, hazelnuts and Hollandaise — the nuts and light hollandaise were a good foil for the subtle flavours of the sweetbread but sadly these delicate flavours were first dulled by the deep-frying and ultimately obliterated by the XO (an intense umami asian sauce with no connection to brandy).
So negativity over — back to the sublime with my main of Comeragh Mountain Lamb — the loins pink and delicate and rolled in a herb crumb (also used on the rabbit loin at lunch), plus a hockey puck of sweet slow-cooked shoulder and best of all a little copper pot of the purest most perfect ‘Irish Stew’ I’ve ever tasted.
Sika Deer, Bone Marrow, Beetroot, Radish, Watercress was also beautifully cooked and matched and both dishes worked wonderfully well with our Castro de Valtuille Mencía from NW Spain — a bargain at €33.
The wine list is comprehensive and interesting as you would expect from this team, advice is informed and intelligent and pricing is fair — eg, Charles Heidsieck NV at €18 per glass is a bargain.
Silky exuberant Coconut Rice with Cream Cheese wafer, Sake and Yoghurt Ice-cream was extraordinarily good and outshone an otherwise excellent Chocolatedessert with Passionfruit sorbet.
So GA is not perfect but there are touches of perfection in McFadden’s cooking and in the desserts from Noonan — the aniseed kick of the fried tarragon spears with my lunchtime rabbit — the beautifully cooked rare liver and kidneys and in the balance of the pre-dessert granitas — GA is almost there, they’ll get there very soon.
Thursday to Saturday: 12.30pm to 2.15pm;
Tuesday to Saturday: 6pm to 9.30pm
- Food: 8/10
- Drink: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value: 7/10
- Ambiance: 8/10
Dublin’s newest fine dining experience clearly has big ambitions and oodles of talent — there is perfection (and some minor imperfections) but overall I don’t think you will regret a visit.