- Allta Winter House, Level 5, Trinity Car Park, Dublin 2.
- Tel: 01-6170988
- Mon-Wed: Closed; Thursday-Friday: 4pm - Midnight; Saturday-Sunday: 1pm - Midnight
- email@example.com; @alltawinterhouse on Instagram
Wow. Before you read further I suggest you log onto Allta Winter House’s website and try to get a booking or on the waitlist. There are extraordinary and joyful things happening on the 5th floor of a car park in central Dublin and you need to experience it.
Chefs Niall Davis and Hugh Higgins opened Allta on Setanta Place to rave reviews (including from myself) in 2019 — but that space is now in the very capable hands of Kevin Burke under the name Library Street (which I also loved). Allta had outgrown its original location and last summer they moved to a marquee in Slane Castle and created Allta Summer House, and now comes Allta Winter House which opened late last year.
The Trinity car-park entrance is far from salubrious but once we emerged on the 5th floor we were warmly greeted and given a quick tour of the Allta Glovebox Cocktail Bar and Art Gallery which had an excellent live jazz band on the night we visited (Thursday). Yes, the walls are concrete but there is a warmth about the space thanks to careful lighting and soft furnishings.
And the food, my goodness the food. We began with rich meaty Onion and Smoked Bone Marrow Broth followed by a sweet carrot crispy mouthful topped with sea-urchin foam followed by Cromane Oysters with smoked honey and seabuckthorn foam — and things just got better and better and better.
Allta has always done bold flavours (too bold for some), but there is a joyous, almost childish enthusiasm for flavour that is completely infectious. Texture is also a focus and everything I put in my mouth brought layers of pleasure. Several times during the meal we said ‘this is the star dish’ but they kept coming, each better than the last so we gave up and focused on eating.
Large plump scallops (cooked on coals) were beautifully caramelised and sitting in an intense roast chicken jus lifted by tarragon vinegar; Boyne Valley Bán goat cheese stuffed in a flatbread with rich black garlic (and useful for mopping up the leftover chicken jus) — Skeghanore Duck cooked rare with a fruity meaty sausage from the liver and legs, with contrasting red cabbage, artichokes, and sticky sourdough bread with shiitake miso butter.
All brilliantly executed, but the Jerusalem Artichokes simply floored us: roasted in the wood-burning oven with a sunflower seed miso dressing, Cáis na Tire foam and artichoke crisps for texture — these earthy, sweet, nutty, creamy, cheesy wonders tasted out of this world good.
We were full but then an enormous wild Sea Trout arrived with crispy skin in a goat milk whey sauce surrounded by mussels and tangy sea herbs — enough to feed six. Roast cabbage and McNally farm potatoes (purple violetta, red emmalie and others) on the side were so good they could have made separate courses on their own.
There is always room for dessert and the Artichoke white chocolate ice cream with a sweet coffee-sherry drizzle with puffed buckwheat for texture was a star, but the final triumph was a doughnut filled with crème brûlée lifted by blood orange juice — quite honestly one of the best taste experiences I’ve ever had.
The wine list is organic-focused and well-chosen. Prices start at €34.50 for Ciello Blanco, a creamy fresh Cattarato from Sicily — an easy choice. Switching to red, Eric Texier’s excellent Chat Fou from the Southern Rhone (€55) was so good a match we needed a second bottle (see also today’s wine column). We finished the meal with Milu Ribera del Duero (€42.70), the entry-level red and it too didn't disappoint.
Staff were unerringly charming and knowledgeable throughout and Allta Winter House is likely the most thrilling and enjoyable restaurant experience in the country right now. The scores here are the highest I’ve ever given: we left energised and completely in thrall.
A 12-course tasting menu costs €95 per person (plus service charge of 12.5%); dinner for 4 with four bottles of excellent wine cost €638 — not cheap, but worth every penny.
- Food: 9.75/10
- Wine: 9.5/10
- Service: 9.75/10
- Atmosphere: 10/10
- Value: 8/10
Allta Winter House needs to be experienced — 12 delicious courses cooked over fire by chefs at the top of their game. It was so good I’m in shock.