Sunday, 10 April 2016

Restaurant Review: Wilde - The Restaurant at the Westbury Hotel

Although I have lived abroad and in a number of different places here in Ireland, I will always consider myself a Dubliner at heart. As such, I try to visit as often as I can to meet up with old friends or spend time with my family enjoying the city’s special atmosphere.

One of my favourite places to pop into for a relaxing afternoon tea treat or a cocktail is the iconic Westbury Hotel, located just off Grafton Street. Knowing that I would be ravenous after my morning shopping, I arranged to meet a friend and had booked a table for us to lunch in Wilde – The Restaurant in The Westbury.

Arriving a little early, we decided to order cocktails in the hotel’s Marble Bar – An Old Fashioned for yours truly and a rather impressive looking Mojito for Patrick. As I sipped on my drink I could feel myself relaxing and all the stresses of the morning ebbing away. We then moved into the restaurant which, in my opinion, is one of the most stunning dining rooms in Dublin. Spacious and beautifully decorated in a 1920s art nouveau style, it has large expansive windows which look out onto Harry Street and Grafton Street, offering a unique viewpoint of the city. Although quite a few tables were taken, we were lucky to get seated beside the window.

Bread Selection
The menu in Wilde has a nice selection of dishes with something on it to suit most tastes. I loved the slightly retro feel of it and was delighted to see the inclusion of dishes such as Duck Liver Parfait, Prawn Cocktail and Sole Meunière. It is too easy to be a little snooty about these dishes but when they are made well they can be heavenly and are classics for good reason.

Feeling in celebratory mood, we decided to kick off our meal with a glass each of Dom Perignon Champagne and the Westbury Bread Selection (€5) while we considered the menu and made our choices. The breads were well made and came with a generous serving of butter. Too many restaurants skimp on the amount of butter  that they serve with their breads and for someone who is a great lover of Irish butter, I have to admit I feel cheated when this happens. This was not the case in Wilde and I happily spread the butter thickly on the delicious breads that we were served which included Herb Soda Bread, Brown Treacle Bread and a Sourdough.

Prawn Cocktail
For his starter, Patrick decided on the Dublin Bay Prawn & Shrimp Cocktail (€21) which came served with a classic Marie Rose sauce, avocado and lime. There are a few basic rules which should be observed when making a seafood cocktail - firstly, the freshest of ingredients should be used; secondly, the dish should be assembled at the last moment and lastly the Marie Rose sauce should not swamp the other ingredients. Here, the langoustines and prawns had been perfectly cooked and were juicy with a lovely fresh taste of the sea. By way of contrast, the Marie Rose sauce possessed a slight spiciness which highlighted the sweetness of the seafood whilst a thin wafer of toasted sourdough bread provided textural contrast.

My Castletownbere Scallops with Cauliflower Purée & Nut Crumble (€19) was a beautiful looking dish which contained four seductively plump scallops which had been flawlessly cooked so that their caramelised exteriors gave way to milky tender flesh. Paired with a velvety cauliflower purée, some crisp fennel shavings and a scattering of hazelnut crumb, this was a wonderfully balanced dish which managed to be comforting yet also refreshing to eat. This was one of the best scallop dishes that I have eaten recently and I loved every mouthful.

For our main courses both Patrick and I decided to eschew the salads offered on the menu and instead we chose a meat and fish dish respectively. Patrick’s 8oz Fillet of Dry Aged Irish Beef with Chunky Chips (€34) came cooked medium-rare as requested and had a lovely slightly smoky chargrilled taste. Fillet beef can often be flavourless unless seasoned correctly and cooked with care and attention. Thankfully a lot of love had gone into cooking the meat which was delightfully tender. The accompanying chips were also very good and had been attractively presented in a Jenga-like fashion beside the beef. A rich and unctuous beef gravy finished off the dish.

Steak & Chips
My Sole Meunière (€40) was another outstanding dish comprising a piece of sole, pan-fried on the bone which was then removed before being served.  As with many seemingly simple dishes containing few ingredients, it is one that requires great skill to get right. Here, the fish had been lightly dredged in flour before being pan-fried in butter. The fish was then served with some of the browned butter it had been cooked in. Sole has a light, moist texture which can quickly dry out if even slightly overcooked but my fish was delicious.  Lemon juice, parsley and capers had been added to the butter before serving and all worked together to cut through the richness of the dish whilst complimenting the mild flavour of the sole. The sole was served with Steamed Baby Potatoes which were lovely to mop up some of the buttery juices.

We also ordered sides of Shoestring Chips, Sprouting Broccoli with Soy and Onion Rings (€5 each) to accompany our main courses but in retrospect, we should probably only have ordered one of the three as we had underestimated the portion size. Having said that all were extremely tasty and both of us felt that the Onion Rings in particular, were beautifully seasoned and full of flavour. We also decided to have a couple of glasses of wine with our main courses  - a 2014 Les Fumées Blanches Sauvignon Blanc was wonderful with my sole whilst the 2014 Punto Final Malbec  was an ideal match for Patrick’s beef.

Despite feeling a little full after the food we had already eaten, we both decided to order desserts. My Crème Brûlée with Honey Madeleine (€9) was served with fresh berries on the side and was an extremely well-made and a perfect example of this dessert stalwart.

Crème Brulee
Baked Alaska is a dessert that deserves a revival yet is one that restaurants seem reticent to include on their menus so when we saw it on the menu in Wilde, Patrick insisted on ordering it. This was not just any old Baked Alaska but was a 21st Century version made with Pistachio Sponge, Raspberry Sorbet and a fabulous toasted Italian Meringue. It was divine and the perfect end to a most enjoyable and memorable meal.

Service throughout our meal was exemplary and attentive without feeling stifling. Staff are friendly and extremely knowledgeable about the food and ingredients used and were able to answer all my questions. I was really impressed by the food in Wilde – The Restaurant and look forward to visiting again soon.

Wilde – The Restaurant
The Westbury Hotel
Grafton Street
Dublin 2
Tel: 01-6791122

Opening Times
7am - 10.30am, Monday - Friday
7am - 11am, Saturday/Sunday
All Day Menu:
12pm - 10pm, Monday - Sunday
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