We have always had a good meal in Restaurant FortyOne, in Dublin's Residence club. The cookery was good, the food was light, fresh and seasonal and it slowly but surely improved over the years. But our last meal, a 4 course tasting lunch, wasn't up to this standard. The first course of scallop, apple and tomato was boring, but still better than a second course of a courgette flower stuffed with prawns, which was so over seasoned all we could taste was salt - actually there was large pieces of salt to bite on. The other two courses were an improvement, the best being a perfectly nice serving of duck, cherries and foie gras. The meal did not feel generous, instead feeling just a little bit meagre. Restaurant FortyOne has a lot going for it; an elegant dining room in an old Georgian building overlooking Stephens Green and a talented chef in Graham Neville. But on this occasion the service did not live up to the dining room and the food was well below what Neville is capable of and we left disappointed and a just a little bit hungry.
Mulberry Garden, Dublin
We championed, over the last year or so, the food in Mulberry Garden and the progression it made under then head chef Tom Doyle. Doyle moved on near the start of this year and with him some of the momentum that the restaurant had gained over the previous year. Having a menu that changes weekly means the food will be very individual to the chef, so bringing in a new kitchen leader will mean a new take and a period of transition might be inevitable. Mulberry Garden is still cooking some good food and the occasional dish, such as poached Irish lobster, balanced well with an aromatic almond & garlic soup, still delivers a delightful treat. But others, such as hake with artichoke, fennel and potatoes, lack cohesion and feel more like individual components on a plate with nothing bringing them together. The food has lost its a bit of it's edge and its uniqueness and therefore it is not the great value it once was, especially now that the tasting menu has gone up to €70. The restaurant feels like it has taken a step back to where it was a couple of years ago, which in fairness, was probably to be expected, at least in the short term. Nevertheless, Mulberry Garden is still a very charming neighbourhood restaurant, cooking some very good dishes with seasonal Irish produce, supported by a warm and hospitable front of house team.