Garden of earthly delights
The new Eden offers a tempting combination of cheffy touches, solid cooking and value in a suitably jazzed-up venue, writes CATHERINE CLEARY
HERE’S A BEETROOT designed by Willy Wonka. It’s white and sliced paper thin with raspberry pink swirls through each slice. You could put them on sticks and call them lollipops. It’s the sexiest root vegetable I’ve ever seen.
The white and pink beet slices are sitting on top of a starter in Eden Bar and Grill on South William Street in Dublin city centre. Having “bar and grill” in the name is very now. Someone has decided “restaurant” is a throwback to crème de menthe and peach-coloured napkins. This new offshoot of Eden Restaurant in Temple Bar is in the former Nue Blue Eriu premises. That was a make-up and unguents shop where the prices alone could scorch off a layer of epidermis and ensure you left with a suitably youthful shocked look.
It looks small from the outside but past the long new marble and painted timber bar there’s a high glass roof giving it all an airy feel. The hanging baskets of greenery (à la Mother Eden) are here and the round white tables. There’s a Cathedral-scale biblical image on the end wall and splashes of colour in parrot prints elsewhere. Two African spears hang over a stage above a piano and jazz singer combo who are doing a fine job of Gershwin’s But not for Me. I like it.
It’s the kind of restaurant (sorry bar and grill) where everyone can see everyone else. So you can treat your trip to the bathrooms as a catwalk stroll. It makes it all the more of a fashion fail when I realise I’ve walked in wearing a high-vis cycling jacket.
Beside us there’s an enormous table with a group of European diners who have the tired look of people who have spent a day in a room with a whiteboard. I’m impressed that they have made the effort to get out of the hotel to eat. And by the look of the starter that Ali’s just ordered, their energy is being rewarded.
It’s described as “dressed crab” on the menu, which is a bit like saying Lady Gaga is a popstar who wears clothes. What arrives is a slate of food where every ingredient has been cheffed to within an inch of its life. There’s the candy cane beetroot, a paintbrush swish of carroty vinaigrette on which some pickled mussels sit. There are crumbles of things, shards of something that could be yellow carrot, a perfect mix of crab and mango and a yellow oil that slides off the slate on to the table (because slates are designed to let liquids, like rain for example, slide off them). It’s ambitious and dramatic stuff – and for €9 it’s hard to see room for an enormous profit margin.