A new Michelin star experience popped up in Dublin recently when Martjin Kajuiter of the Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore decided to showcase his tasting menu in The Cliff Town House on Stephen’s Green. The moment I heard about it I had himself and myself booked in. This was an opportunity not to be missed.
We arrived early and we were warmly welcomed at reception. We were shown to our table and given the menu. It was to be an impressively, extensive spread. Merely reading it had my salivary glands working on full throttle.
Clearly a serious dining experience awaited us. I couldn’t attempt to do justice to the occasion by words alone. Suffice to say that it was superb. Everything that we were served was a work of art and I will only highlight a few things. Firstly the incredible amuse bouche was served, explained and we were advised on what order in which to eat it. The macaroon first, then the panna cotta and, finally, the pastry. The colours were magnificent – the purple macaroons held together by the creamy cheese, the pale green of the apple jelly and the orange of the pumpkin. All the beautiful seasonal colours were reflected in the food. Everything was delicious but, for me, the shallot panna cotta hit the highest notes. I could have eaten a bucket of it.
The ‘snacks’ followed and the table almost heaved under the amount of food provided and this was only starters! Once again I am doing a disservice to all this fantastic food by focussing on one item but I would end up writing a novella if I didn’t. Although I adored the scallop dish I found the ‘Quail Egg “-20 C” Cured, Squash, Veal & Hazelnut’ to be most interesting and innovative. The textures and flavours worked really well together. It was sublime.
The Bantry Bay Organic Salmon was served from under a smoke filled clear dome. The fish was really tasty although I don’t think that it was wild salmon as it wasn’t flagged as such. There was also a salmon ice-cream as part of the ensemble. I was very pleased with this dish because it showed how wonderful smoked salmon can be. There is so much of the awful processed stuff on offer these days.
For me the Helvick Cod was the dish of the day. Martijn himself brought it to our table and explained it to us. The cod was brined in sea water and cooked at 50 C (if I remember correctly). Whatever magic was done to it it was beautiful. The flesh was tender and succulent and the accompanying textures of abalone, crab canneloni and crispy leek further enhanced it.
To refresh our palates we had a cucumber sorbet with salt foam. It was an amusing little dish and it did it’s job too!
A wonderful beef dish followed and was brilliantly matched with an Italian red wine. Indeed all the courses had excellent wine selections to match and they were served and well described by the sommelier.
The first dessert arrived in a pizza box! The ‘discovery apple’ looked just like a little pizza. In fact it was a cookie topped with lots of interesting flavours as described in the menu. There was also a portion of ice-cream (cranberry, I think) which had melted quite a bit before it reached us. At this stage I was getting very full and I knew a second, rich chocolate dessert was due. The chocolate plate was delayed in arriving – by about half an hour at least! Our water glasses were topped up, the tealight on the table was refreshed, crumbs were swept off the table. But still no chocolate. Eventually we were brought two mini magnums from the ‘sweet snack’ selection. When I pointed out that we hadn’t had the ‘actual’ dessert yet and our server probably should have said that there was an unexpected delay in the kitchen.
The chocolate platter eventually arrived. I’m not going to judge it because I actually don’t care for chocolate and I would never order it when out for a meal. But looking at the diners around me it was well received and scoffed. I tried some of it and I really liked the white chocolate semifreddo and the coffee ice-cream.
Finally the petit fours, teas and coffees arrived. I struggled to eat the delicious little snacks but, somehow, I managed. The little carrot cake was delightful – even more so when the cucumber gin was injected into it. And the triple mint marshmallow was scrumptious.
In summary I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The kerfuffle over the chocolate dessert meant that we were quite late finishing up which, on a Monday night, wasn’t great. But this was the first Cliff House ‘pop-up’ and teething problems happen. Be on the lookout Martijn’s next ‘pop up’ in Dublin as it is definitely an experience not to be missed.