Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lucky 13

A few weeks ago Bill told me he had made a reservation for our anniversary dinner, and that it was going to be a surprise. On the evening we hopped in a taxi and Bill asked the driver to take us to Stephen's Green. A large proportion of Dublin restaurants are concentrated around the green, so I still had no idea of our destination. After hopping out at the corner of the green we wandered about (Bill wasn't quite sure of the restaurant's location) but we finally wound up at the Fitzwilliam Hotel which houses Thornton's. Thornton's is a one Michelin star restaurant owned by Chef Kevin Thornton and his wife, Muriel.

Bill had reserved the chef's table, which meant we would have a window into the kitchen and would be served each course by the head chef. Thornton's prefers to seat parties of four at the chef's table because it is away from the other tables and misses some of the restaurant buzz. We really wanted to watch the kitchen, so they made an exception. The table was decorated with a stunning bouquet of red long-stemmed roses. We chose the eight-course Chef's choice menu and settled in for a lovely evening. The chef's table is near the bar, which was deserted on this Tuesday evening, so we treated it as our own private sitting area enjoying our pre-dinner Champagne.

Thornton is experimental, without losing sight of the fact that food is ultimately to be eaten. We had saffron infused mist (from dry ice) and tuna in a bowl of smoke, but it wasn't all experiential. We definitely ate.

Here is our menu:

Ballotin of Guinea Fowl with Celeriac
Gazpacho of Cucumber Jelly, Mussels and Consomme
Roast King Scallop with Truffle Mousse
'Mi-cuit' of Foie Gras rolled in new season truffle
Fillet of Red Mullet, Shellfish Consomme
Smoked Yellow Fun Tuna, Prawns wrapped in Tuna and Beluga Caviar
Nettle and Thyme Sorbet
Wicklow Venison with Juniper Sauce
Cashel Blue Cheese
Molten Valrhona Chocolate
Petit-fours and Cappuccino

The scallop was our favorite course from a pure taste experience. It was simply grilled and perfectly matched, but not overpowered by the truffle mousse. I could have eaten about fifteen. The truffle course was also great. It included a healthy portion of marinated and cured foie gras rolled in black truffle. The slices of black truffle were a great treat. The truffle powder takes three months to make and delivered a jolt of truffle power. This was Bill's favorite course intellectually and moved the meal to a higher level.

We enjoyed the autumn ingredients in the meal. The Guinea fowl with celeriac and venison were nicely seasonal, but light enough to fit into the overall meal. We enjoyed all the seafood as well. The Nettle and Thyme Sorbet was perfect! The herby sorbet worked great as a palate cleanser.

We moved back to the couch for the cheese and dessert courses. The dessert was a familiar, but perfectly prepared chocolate bombe. After all this, we were served a plate of lovely petit-fours.

We enjoyed the chef's table. Being separated from the other diners with our own seating area made it feel like we were dining in our own private restaurant. It was fascinating to watch the plates come together in the small and efficient kitchen. Chef Kevin primarily plated the meals, and yelled occasionally. At one point the server asked if we could speak French. We said No. Good, he said. We did hear a few gems like, "I asked for a opera, not a f*cking musical!" (One of the petit-fours was opera cake.)

A memorable and delicious meal. A great start to Year 14.

4 comments:

mom Gunter said...

TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! Boy! Do you two ever look GREAT. I love you two!!!!!!!!!!

 lisa said...

Happy Anniversary! What a fantastic meal. Foie gras rolled in black truffle, I need a moment to focus on that thought.

BillG said...

The foie gras was pretty awesome. The truffle powder is not something I really want to eat again, but it was interesting. Like inhaling the essence of a forest of truffles all at once. Very intense.

Trina said...

YEAH!!! 14 Years and counting, and what a lovely place to celebrate it in...sounds like a good suprise. COngratulations.