At the beginning of the year we wrote that Mulberry Garden was our favourite restaurant of 2013 and commented on the progression that the restaurant had made the previous year. Thankfully, the times we have visited this year have shown that this progression has continued.
We have seen Mulberry Garden evolve over the last couple of years into one of the the best restaurants in the country. We love the philosophy: opening just three nights a week with a new menu devised from seasonal and local produce with just two options on each course. There are very few restaurants we know of that completely change their menu each week and it is great for a diner to go back several times and get different dishes each time.
The food is based around the best local produce available and complemented well with the occasional international ingredient. Not opening until Thursday allows Chef Tom Doyle time to source this produce and concoct a menu to showcase it in it's best light. He demonstrates perfectly cooked produce (he seems particularly a depth at cooking fish), modern cooking techniques, and creativity, but at same time showing restraint, clarity and balance with each item on the plate serving a purpose. His harmonious use of vinegar and lemon, particularly with fish, is evidence of a refined palate.
Over the last year the food has improved again and part of the reason for this is that it has become more innovative and the menu has shown more invention - gels and powdered fat being just two examples of this. Snacks, amuse bouches and pre desserts are now regulars and Doyle uses these to experiment - they are quite often excellent. Also, the desserts are a noticeable improvement this year.
To develop a new menu each week and maintain consistency is maybe what needs to be applauded most -there are goods restaurants who change their dishes a few times a year and struggle with this. However, whilst many dishes have been excellent (hay baked wood pigeon; cured mackerel; langoustines in stuffed courgette flower; glazed turbot to name a few), the odd dish does not invoke the best memories (a chewy hoggit dish with spiced sheep's curd springs to mind).
Mulberry Garden is tucked away in Donnybrook and it seems to be in a balancing act between adding innovation and evolving the food whilst remaining a neighbourhood restaurant and not scaring off the loyal locals. Because of this the menu can sometimes feel a little bit restrained, which is a pity seeing as Doyle's food is at its best when he is experimenting and exploring new flavour combinations. But the restaurant's reputation is growing and seems to be constantly winning more admirers.
The service is friendly, professional, personal and knowledgeable, if not a bit frenetic when the restaurant is full. Considering the improved food, good service, along with great value (42 euro for 3 courses or 60 for all 6) means the restaurant must score highly. Hopefully there is more to come and the restaurant can continue it's rise - it certainly gives us the impression that it can still take it to another level.