I didn’t have my reviewer’s hat on when I dined here recently with my in-laws. However, I remembered later that Eden is listed in The Dubliner – 100 Best Restaurants so I had to rethink my decision. So here goes…
Mr W and I were the first to arrive. We decided to wait in the reception area for the rest of our group and I ordered a Gin and Tonic to sip while we perused the menu. It took a bit too long for for my drink to arrive. When it finally appeared it was lifeless and dull without a bubble in sight.
Once the full group arrived we were shown to our table and a friendly waiter described the specials of the day. The soup was tomato and fennel and there were two special main courses -one venison and the other being stone bass. Not being familiar with stone bass I asked for more information. I was told it was a deep water fish and that it was wild, not farmed. I wasn’t too convinced. I know all about sea bass, which is a lovely fish, but I worried that stone bass might be to sea bass as rock salmon is to salmon. So I decided against it.
There were six of us dining. The orders for starters included eden smokies, crab salad, chicken liver mousse and my own order for pumpkin risotto. Three of us opted for the venison as main course, two ordered hake and there was one order for steak. We ordered a couple of bottles of Crozes-Hermitage as well. We nibbled on bread from the complimentary basket of bread while we waited for the starters to be prepared. I’m still wondering why the bread was so described on the menu. The Eden is pitching to a market that expects the bread basket to be included and there is no need to make a feature of it being free. That said, I had a slice of delicious, fresh tomato bread.
The starters arrived and the Eden smokies were served in square gratin dishes. Nobody had bothered to wipe away the melted cheese that dripped down the edge of the dish so marks are lost for presentation . The pate looked delicious and the crab salad was pretty on the plate too. My risotto was very good and I really enjoyed it. The rice was creamy with a bite to it, the pumkin was cooked perfectly and I really liked the sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds that was added to finish the dish.
The mains arrived. The venison came rare – and at this point I remembered that we had not been asked how we would like it to be cooked. In my experience to date I have almost always been asked how I’d like it done or I’ve been told that how ‘chef’ likes to serve it. It didn’t bother me, I am happy enough to eat rare venison. It was a pleasant dish, not outstanding. The meat was tender enough and it was served with a kind of potato cake which had a large, whole carrot on top of it. Very rustic looking. The hake eaters really enjoyed their dish. In fact one of them had eaten hake very recently at Fishy-Fishy in Kinsale and he deemed Eden’s dish to be the superior one. That is quite a commendation.
I couldn’t manage dessert but some of the others ordered raspberry parfait and the cheeseboard and we all had coffees.
In summary I would have to say that The Eden has seen better days. It doesn’t help matters that there is a building site right beside it but the restaurant interior is drab and in need of a refurb. The formica topped table that I sat at had a chip gone out of it and the underlying timber was exposed. It wasn’t pretty (or hygienic, I’d imagine). We also sat very close to the kitchen area and we could see, and smell, what was going on. Every now and then some deep fat fryer steam wafted in our direction and I was worried that I would come home stinking of chips. It can be interesting to see ‘the theatre’ of a kitchen but nobody reeally wants the ‘backstage’ experience which is what I experienced on the night. Perhaps, when Meeting House Square is returned to the City of Dublin, Eden will invest in an upgrade.