The Greenhouse: Dublin's crowing glory makes a phenomenal lunch
As we cross the Luas tracks to enter The Greenhouse, on Dawson Street, we see a member of the kitchen brigade snipping out to get a ray of the incredible sun shining over Dublin on a gorgeous Saturday. Later, we learn that this tall shaved-head man is none other than Mickael Viljanen, the chef of the Michelin star restaurant. Good news, even on such a lovely day, the master is at work, sleeves rolled up.
When we come in, the room is only occupied by a couple, and two people eating on their own. We are seated at the round corner table dressed in pristine white clothes, ready to enjoy the space and the overview of the action taking place in the restaurant.
For lunch, the chef offers two courses for €35, three courses for €42, as well as a tasting menu for €75. We opt for the second and after our orders are sent in, we start the meal with a mise en bouche of pig's head enclosed in a crispy fried batter, with a touch of apple to make it zing. A pure treat.
We also indulge unapologetically on the fresh homemade baguette served with a generous knob of butter. You can find some world-class bread in Dublin, but I am yet to find a baguette worthy of the name - if you have any suggestion, please leave a comment.
My entree, a foie gras royale topped with a Granny Smith apple jelly, candied walnuts and smoked eel, has been on the menu since the place opened in 2012. It is easy to understand why. It is a proper masterpiece.
The royale, which is like a foie gras crème brûlée, feels incredibly airy and subtle on the palate, yet the little pockets of flavours that are the walnuts and eel turn it into an explosion in the mouth.
Damien's mackerel tartare with oyster cream, cucumber diced so small it looks like pixels and elderflower, comes with a fluffy crumpet and cream. Mackerel and cucumber make a perfect combination, the strong salty flavour of the former well-balanced with the crunch and the freshness of the latter.
When the mains arrived, I can't stop admiring how perfectly my Donegal cod, served with violon courgette and whipped roe, was cooked. The flesh has been steamed just enough so it isn't raw, but still slightly translucent, keeping it incredibly moist and tasty. No doubt the best cod I have ever had. A courgette flower stuffed with carb meat and a few leaves of lemon verbena add even more dimension to this fabulously skilful dish.
The suckling pig with peas and Loire Valley asparagus is another gorgeous seasonal plate, with the vin jaune jus giving it some hearty depth. Again, we have to admire the precision of cooking, showing a talent probably worthy of a second star.
Our dessert, an elegant swirl of chocolate with hazelnut, coffee, yuzu and a marvelous salted milk sorbet, is gracefully adorned by a couple of gold leaves for a little touch of lavishness. Finally, coffee comes with an exuberant choux pastry stuffed abundantly with a rich hazelnut cream.
With two glasses of wine, water and coffee, the bill comes to €130, definitely more than your average Saturday brunch but utterly worth it for such an unbeatable tasting experience.