Very few Irish restaurants would – to employ the kind of phrase that is part of the celebrity chef’s argot – have the balls to offer a menu like this.
In how many places can you get a perfectly cooked rib-eye steak with immaculate flavour, crisp shoestring frites and proper Béarnaise? Note the words “perfectly” and “immaculate”. Do you see what I’m getting at? And equally proper and equally old-fashioned rice pudding, served rather incongruously in a cocktail glass, with real raspberry jam. Pure comfort. And a considerable degree of joy.
No, there are not many restaurants with the courage to deliver a menu based on the very sound theory that less is more; that a good kitchen is much better off cooking that steak of mine rather than mucking about with all manner of fashionable, cheffy malarkey. So, I take my hat off to the Smouldering One, for bringing something like this to Dawson Street.
The level of service is well above average. There’s a very professional front of house team, in which everyone knows what they’re doing. It’s a pleasure to find a restaurant where the waiting staff can explain the menu when asked and who know the wine list as well.
Any list that includes Manzanilla by the glass instantly endears itself to me. We both had a good meal here: I liked both starters and the main courses were well done. We finished up with a nostalgia-inducing rice pudding.
Even if you’d stumbled into this restaurant without seeing the name Marco Pierre White on the canopy, you’d know soon enough whose restaurant this is. What Marco Pierre White has done here is set up a good steakhouse with nothing overly complex on the menu, but what’s there is well done. It manages to create a feel of casual chic, which I’m sure is intended, and it reminds me more than a little of the sort of smart brasseries you find in London.
The decor is reminiscent of Fifties’ or Sixties’ nightclubs, an illusion enhanced by black and white photos of old movie stars. Banquette seating and wood flooring in dark shades contrast with cream-painted wooden tables topped with tiny lamps, the effect reminiscent of a Soho nightclub of the Fifties.
The concept struck us as being on the nose of what people want, no matter whose name is on the menu. It’s buzzy, not too pricey, with classically simple, retro-style food. I could almost visualise a young Diana Dors and John Profumo in different corners, with one of the Rat Pack crooning in the corner.
Eschewing the Michelin palaver of his past, the Marco Pierre White steakhouse serves top quality steak and fish, executed simply but to perfection.
The space has had a bit of a makeover and at night there is more than a touch of glamour about the place. On a chilly Thursday evening, the restaurant was hopping inside and out – every table on the heated exterior terrace was taken – and there was a fine buzz about the place.
It was great – spanking fresh crab, good mayo. An impeccable Cocktail of Fresh Prawns with Marie Rose Sauce, served in a martini glass, was delightfully retro, the prawns sweet and meaty. Terrific meat, cooked rare as ordered, accompanied by excellent fries. Next time I will try one of the signature halibut steaks – they look fabulous.
This is the kind of simple, well-executed food that is universally popular and a welcome addition to the city centre.