Aoife Kelly jumped at the opportunity to be wined and dined with the new Shelbourne Hotel 190 Tasting Menu. But was the food up to the hotel’s historic standards?
It isn’t too often that you get an opportunity to be wined and dined in the room in which the Irish Constitution was signed, so when the opportunity knocked I gleefully made my way to The Shelbourne Hotel on St Stephen’s Green. After ascending the sweeping staircase and entering the room where Michael Collins signed the historical document, I was met by some wonderfully attentive staff who were dressed in early 19th century costume to mark the evening’s occasion; the launch of The Shelbourne Hotel’s 190 Tasting Menu.
The Shelbourne, that magnificent stalwart of Irish hospitality, has been open for 190 years and to commemorate this, Executive chef Garry Hughes has created a six-course tasting menu consisting of some of the hotel’s most infamous dishes throughout the decades.
To begin a palate-cleanse, champagne was served from Marie Antoinette crystal glasses, the bubbles and the beautiful setting went hand in hand to set the tone for a very memorable evening ahead.
The menu has a very elevated feel to it, yet it’s completely accessible – classic dishes given a five-star treatment.
A Chilled Tomato Consommé was the welcoming dish and I have to say my adversity to cold soup was soon won over. I sipped and then found myself swigging the delicious potage.
Next up was an omelette steeped in rugby history – the Omelette Arnold Bennett. Although made of ingredients that combined are quite filling, smoked haddock, cream and parmesan, the portion was just the right, leaving adequate room for the three more courses to follow. The Shelbourne’s rugby connection, for those among you not in the know, is that the hotel always holds a reception for the Irish rugby team after their at home international matches. This dish was served after the Ireland v England encounter, on March 10, 1956.
Both of the opening dishes were chaperoned by a beautiful white wine, a 2012 Touraine Domaine Jacky Marteau from the Loire region, selected by The Shelbourne’s super-sommelier, Nisea Doddy.
A Lobster Thermidor came next, served in a mini serving saucepan, decorated with part of the crustacean for dramatic effect. Again Chef Hughes did not disappoint. The dish was delicate and the beautiful flavor of the lobster shone through.
The penultimate dish, the heavyweight of the six, was a delectable Wellington D’Aghneau Petits Pois (lamb Wellington, in other words), an absolute must for any carnivores. The combination of the meat and the light pastry marry so well together, it’s no wonder patrons of the Dublin Society Horse Shows of 1925 and 1949 were delighted to have it served on both occasions. Nisea selected a light Côtes du Rhône red for the latter two dishes, Saint-Esprit Delas, again from 2012.
Garry Hughes deserves many, many awards for the final dish of the 190 Tasting Menu, his take on the Chocolate Gâteau, which also originates again from the menu of the 1956 Ireland versus England rugby international reception. It is by far the most wickedly wonderful chocolate cake that I have ever had the honor of tasting. Sponge, caramel, ganache, biscuit, chocolate, golf leaf, sugar tuille, you name it this cake has got it. A masterpiece in confectionary.
Finally teas and coffees, accompanied with delightful Petit Fours, were served in beautiful fine china – the perfect finish to an evening drenched in Irish history and culinary expertise.
The 190 Tasting Menu is available in The Saddle Room restaurant at €65.00 per person or €89.00 with their sommelier’s wine pairings.
The Constitution Room is available for Private Dining events and you can choose the 190 Tasting Menu for your party.
For bookings and enquires call +353 1 6634500 or book online at www.TheShelbourne.ie
© 2014 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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