Deterred by the Instagram overload from the rooftop bar in the Marker, we avoided the hotel until yesterday. With the parents visiting from out of town, we needed a public location to diffuse a potentially stressful lunch date. I booked The Brasserie for 1pm.
We arrived late, much to the annoyance of Mother. Grand Canal Dock was buzzy enough, with people queuing to get into Herb Street. We scurried in the door of the Marker to find a ghost town. All staff, no customers.
The lobby is open plan, all polished concrete floor and geometric ceilings with a bar to the right and brasserie to the left. It claims to be urban and sleek but feels like a not very good Philippe Starck rip-off, and it all looks rather dated.
I approached the concierge and said we had a booking for 1pm. He was unsure if The Brasserie was open for lunch. We seated ourselves in the bar area, but were then told they had our booking and brasserie was actually open for lunch after all. We decided to stay where we were – the spattering of other diners in the bar would keep our lunch date civil.
The bar menu was more than ample with a range of starters, specials and mains to suit all palates. The parents ordered battered cod and chips, I had the Soup of the Day and the lamb koftas, and the promoter went for the special fish pie. Dad asked for O’Hara’s Pale ale. “Bottle or pint, sir?” our server asked. “Pint, please,” said Dad. A bottle arrived.
A smattering of guests checked in and out of the hotel but no other diners arrived. The food took an age to arrive. The parents Tom Crean’s Irish Craft Beer-battered Cod with mint crushed peas, chips and tartar sauce came first with the rest of the food not following for almost ten minutes, at which point the Ma and Da had almost finished their mains. The fish was good – crispy light batter with succulent chunky cod and great home-cut fries. The lemon was wrapped in muslin so the pips didn’t squeeze onto the fish, which my Dad was well impressed with.
My Connemara Koftas came next – a rectangular plate with two tomato tortilla wraps heated and folded into pretty triangles in the middle with a salad of tomato, red onion and mint dressing to one side, and two lamb koftas on sticks to the other, complete with a little glass jar of Tzatziki. Deconstructing a folded tortilla triangle on a skinny plate to fill it with the contents of that plate isn’t really my idea of a Sunday lunch, even if we were in the bar. Surely, if one was sipping cocktails at The Marker and decided to have something to nibble on, a dish that came fully formed with the least possibility of a mess down the front of their new handwash-only shirt would be preferable to a DIY lamb kofta wrap? Messy construction aside, the lamb was lush and the accompaniments gelled well.
The Soup of the Day, which arrived shortly after the lamb, was carrot, sweet potato and coriander cream. It lacked flavour and was too dense, even for sweet potato soup.
The fish pie was the last to arrive. It was massive! Served with a plate of salad, it was oval bowl of fishy goodness topped with crispy mash. The promoter was quick to point out the dish was shallower than a normal fish pie dish, so it just looked like a giant portion. My fork only made it past his once, but I had food envy. He said it could have had more smoked fish to lift the flavour, but as fish pies go it was pretty great.
The desert menu looked enticing so we shared the Apple and coconut Crumble with Cinnamon Ice-cream from the main menu and the selection of ice cream and cookies from the kids menu. The crumble didn’t taste of coconut and was served lukewarm. Neither did the ice cream of taste cinnamon. The kids selection was divine. The strawberry ice cream was the best I have ever tasted ever, anywhere, and should have a staring role on the main menu.
The overall experience was pleasant, if a mixed bag, and we will return and check The Brasserie out for dinner soon. The bill came to €122 including tip. No mothers were harmed in the making of this review.
The Marker Hotel, Grand Canal Square, Docklands, Dublin 2, (01) 687 5100, http://www.themarkerhoteldublin.com
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