The Greenery Café Restaurant, 3 Eirpage House, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, Tel: 01 219 5966.
Chef: Albert Broderick
I was recently asked if the economic downturn meant I struggled to find new restaurants to review. As it happens there was a slightly slower period in the first years but for the most part large numbers of people seemed willing to dive into the food business, even in a recession. Many have little knowledge of the sector, they are more interested in the theatre of owning their own restaurant than the actual food. The more hard-nosed see spreadsheets of profits while they salami slice away on quality.
The sector is also struggling to find good chefs, many have moved abroad while others who have graduated are taking different paths, overwhelmed by the idea of a life time of long hours and a heavy workload. However, there is a type of restaurant with a far greater chance of success – the rare breed of the chef-patron. Whether alone or as part of an investment the chef-patron has a commitment to success that goes beyond mere monetary gain. The Grande Dame lives around the corner from the Greenery Café Restaurant and told me this new eatery was just such a restaurant.
I trundled in mid-week and found myself in a charming, polished country kitchen sort of place, not over done and with a clean, fresh feel. The dinner menu is a classic bistro one with touches of flair that suggest restrained knowledge. Staff were informed and friendly and although they missed the vital first sale opportunity – would you like a drink while looking through the menu – all was flawless service after that.
We kicked off with seared scallops with cauliflower puree and chorizo butter (€12.50), this was prettily presented and the classic flavours were an ideal frame for the sweet tasting scallops.
I went for the goats cheese tart, and though this dish is to the tweens what prawn cocktail was to the seventies it has become something of a comfort dish for me. This version came with delicately cooked peaches and a honey dressing (€9), the pasty was just-so, the dryness working perfectly with the creamy cheese and sweeter accompaniments. A freshly-made and elegant start to the meal.
For the main course the Grande Dame insisted I order the classic beef burger. Being an American girl she knows her burgers and by gum was she right. Priced at (€12.50) this came with crispy onions, baby gem lettuce, plum tomatoes and skinny homemade fries.
It shows a certain style and knowledge for a chef to know when to add and when to take away. This ‘classic’ sounding burger in fact had a proportion of pork added to it as well as some spicing. All very subtly done but lifting this humble dish to something really special.
The Grande Dame ordered the pan seared hake (€22), though she’d have preferred the burger. It came with creamed potato, chorizo, clams and tender stem broccoli. I was allowed a taste and it was perfectly cooked, and given a slick of extra luxury from the clam flavours.
We shared an apple tarte Tatin with caramel syrup and ice cream (€5), which we were not in full agreement on. I felt the caramel had tipped over to being a bit on the bitter side, the Grande Dame disagreed but we cleared the plate nonetheless.
Towards the end of the meal we became aware that the chef-patron was also one of our servers – apparently this is how he spends his nights off from the kitchen. There are very few chefs who take the time out to work front of house yet it is the showroom for all their hard work. At the Greenery you will find a stylish bistro menu of freshly made classics delivered with panache by a chef who has invested as much in the whole dining experience as the food on the plate.
This first appeared in The Sunday Business Post, October 2013.