Rewarding Times, GrabOne, Pigsback, The Dining Room, Living Social, Menupages…. Every solitary deal website in Ireland you can name, I’d say I’m signed up for it – I love a bargain. I also love a nice restaurant and / or hotel and over the past few years I’d heard great reports on The Dylan Hotel in Ballsbridge. From what I’d heard, it was a modern, funky hotel with a lovely outdoor cocktail area and a nice restaurant…. So when I spotted a deal for it on Pigsback, I was in there like swimwear! The deal was €80 worth of food (food only, no booze to be included) for €40 – so a half price meal effectively … I mean what’s not to like about that deal!? 🙂
So last weekend we booked in for the Sunday evening. Being a school night we made the reservation for 6pm – plenty of time for a few drinks after dinner then home to bed nice and early to avoid a hangover! It was a pretty rare occasion in Dublin last Sunday – a really warm and sunny day…. Doesn’t happen all that often so you gotta make the most of it. As there was a festival on in the docklands we went in there for a bit first, had a mosey around then a couple of cocktails in the H CafeBar at Grand Canal.
Now I’m sure we could have POSSIBLY walked to the hotel from there but being atrocious with directions and not being a regular around Ballsbridge it was way easier to jump in a cab. The hotel is in a kinda strange location, off the main road in Ballsbridge and beside a housing estate. It might be a bit of an odd place to have a hotel but it’s a lovely area, nice and quiet, lovely trees and in general a very well kept area.
We got there about 5.30 so said we’d have a drink before dinner. I have to point out I haven’t got my usual amount of pics on this review… I was on a date and was too busy drinking wine and cocktails and having the chats to be honest – you know how it is 🙂
Plus I realise it can be VERY annoying when someone is getting snap happy all night with the camera so I’ve no pics of the nice beer garden or the bar or anything but you’ll get the general impression of the place from the few photos I do have! (Hmmmmm, I will have to let him know that if this is to go anywhere I will be taking photos of food pretty much all the time!)
In we went and walked through to the beer garden / smoking section. It’s a pretty small square area to the back of the restaurant. The sun was still shining and it was a total sun trap here, no breeze or anything. There were no tables left so we just sat on a couple of low stools and had a drink there. The clientele were pretty much what you’d expect around here, looked like they had a few quid! I really liked that outdoor area – if I’m honest it was my favourite area in the hotel…. Not looking good for the rest of this review is it?!
After about 45 minutes there, and almost getting peed on by a little pug dog, we realised we were late for dinner and made a move inside. We needn’t have rushed as our table was going nowhere – we were the only people in the place! Given the day of the week and the time, I thought maybe that’s the reason for it being so quiet and that it would possibly pick up a bit later.
The restaurant interior is nice, as I expected it’s modern and shiny and I do like that style of décor, but it did lack… I’m not sure… just something! I guess there wasn’t really any cosiness to it. I know it can be hard to get that modern feel without it being a bit clinical sometimes and with this place I think maybe that was the case. I adore the feel of places like the G Hotel in Galway, it has lots of modern twists but is still really warm and cosy.
Anyway – onto the food and drinks! We ordered another glass of wine (my usual Malbec) and a beer then our lovely waiter gave us some bread to eat while we had a look at the menu. The starter choices were soup of the day (tomato and basil) @ €6.50, goats cheese croquettes @ €11.50, leek and parmesan risotto, ham hock and chicken terrine or organic salmon. I absolutely LOVE goats cheese so we went for that and the soup. I have to say the presentation all the way through the meal was fab and we both really enjoyed the starters. The bowl of soup was pretty generous and my goats cheese was just the right amount.
For mains some of the choices were lamb, supreme of chicken, fillet of Irish beef, fillet of cod, pan fried halibut or veggie options of shallot and mushroom tartlet or butternut squash and sage risotto. We went for the halibut (I almost always go for fish lately!) @ €28 which came with savoy cabbage and pan fried micro vegetables (micro veg is right, tiny!) and the beef with fondant potato and caramelised shallots @ €32 and got a side of chips too @ €4.
As you can see from the pics below the presentation of the dishes was amazing, I loved the little details on the plate. But – and this may be just me being so used to large portions – I thought the size of the dishes was underwhelming considering the prices. We definitely needed the extra portion of chips. The food was pretty good. I’ve never had halibut before and if I’m honest I probably wouldn’t rush to get it again but it was all well cooked and I finished it off 🙂
To me this is like steak with a chunk of onion and one chip!!
Looking around now, another couple had come in and were seated not far from us – that was still it for the whole restaurant. I’m not sure if it was the restaurant itself or just the fact that it was empty, but there just wasn’t a great feel to it.
We ordered another drink and being cursed with a sweet tooth, I gave in to dessert. Choices were crème brulee, vanilla cream cheese mousse, or chocolate cremeux – and as you’d expect we went for the chocolate option to share. It was passionfruit sorbet with chocolate and a passionfruit macaroon and was really yum… VERY passion fruit-y, but really nice and again, faultless presentation.
We were totally stuffed then so we took our time over our drinks then got the bill. It totalled at €118 for 2 starters, 2 mains, 1 side of chips, 1 desert, 2 glasses of wine and 2 bottles of beer – pretty average I guess for this side of the city. Taking off the €80 for the food we just had to pay €38 and leave a tip.
Why is it always on a Sunday evening that the drinks go down so well?! Not wanting to head home just yet, we went into the bar for a few. It’s a small modern bar with a great cocktail list and a crazy amount of different whiskeys and wines and champagnes. We had a couple of cocktails there until we’d well overstayed our welcome and the bar staff were throwing us dirty looks to get out!
All in all I really didn’t have a problem with the actual food or drinks but more so the atmosphere – or lack of it! It was missing that “something” that makes you really enjoy a restaurant or bar and makes you want to return. I honestly wouldn’t go back there to eat in the restaurant but I would most definitely enjoy a boozy summer’s day in the beer garden – if, of course we get even ONE summer day this year!
The Dylan Hotel
Ph: 01-660 3000
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