Sometimes you get a feeling about a place. With Hyde, for me, it’s four words: broom cupboard, celebrity, romp. A stairs may be preferable to a closet; it hardly matters, but this four-storey colossus, with glass-fronted lifts and numerous stairwells, leading to what may soon be the city’s most phenomenal terrace, smoulders with brief-encounter potential.
There is no velvet rope, but Jamie Belton and Reagan Gomes, both formerly of the Ivy, are running the show. Gekko, the restaurant space on the second floor, has sweeps of velvet booths wrapping around the room; perfect for sipping from a wine list that ranges from Whispering Angel rosé to a €16,970 methuselah of Chateau Laffite Rothchild 1986 – and, yes, it is actually in the building. Our waiter carts out the six-litre bottle for a doubter’s show-and-tell. I get the sense that this is not the first time he’s done this in the few days since they’ve been open.
The spicier dishes are the standouts, particularly the bone marrow with peanut chilli crunch, an intoxicating combination of warm, silky marrow and punches of heat, all piled on to sourdough toast
Even though the bars are likely to be a big thing – there is a long drinks menu with 14 cocktails – it is, as far as I’m concerned, all about the food, and my expectations are high. Karl Whelan, the executive chef here, has serious form, having headed the kitchens at Luna, Hang Dai and Saltwater Grocery, where he is chef-patron. He honed the classics at Chapter One.
The menu at Hyde is Asian-inspired. It follows the small-plates-and-larger-dishes-to-share format, which is my sort of thing. The kombu-cured salmon with radish, wasabi and soy gel, €12, has a familiar ring to it; it’s a riff on a dish Whelan has been serving at Saltwater since it opened. He’s not exactly giving away all his trade secrets on the Hyde dish – this is a more pedestrian version, but the combination of the firm, cured salmon with pickled radish and dots of soy gel is clean and fresh. A crisp Rueda Verdejo, €38, works nicely.
The hamachi with lime and burnt kombu, €15.50, is sashimi-style, three pieces of fish with some micro-sized oxalis and a drizzle of sauce that is like a chimichurri. It is restrained, but I’m not quite sure the quality of the fish justifies the price.
The spicier dishes are the standouts, particularly the bone marrow with peanut chilli crunch, €12, which is an intoxicating combination of warm, silky marrow and punches of heat that manage to sit on top of the savoury flavours, all piled on to sourdough toast that has been properly introduced to butter. Caramelised and pickled onions add further complexity. This is the dish you simply must order.
The squid bun with chilli crisp, €11, is not quite what I had been expecting. Rather than a bao bun it is quite cakey, sitting over a jet-black ragout of squid. The squid ink, which can sometimes overwhelm, is kept in balance, with a heat that builds from the chilli.
Our final savoury dish is steamed cod, €22, a warm bowl of white foaming sauce that hovers over a white mound. It is both intriguing and slightly unnerving. Topping the mound are opaque sheets of daikon, covering flakes of cod and tiny sweet cockles. It’s a miso sauce that is grounded in the classics, mounted with a hefty level of butter and possibly some white wine, making it quite rich. It would perhaps work better as a smaller dish for one.
We have ordered a side of hand-cut kimchi fries, €5, which are very good but probably not the greatest match with this dish, and the warm emulsion dipping sauce could do with more of a kimchi edge.
For dessert we finish with matcha set custard, €9.50, with nashi pear. It is fresh and restrained, but I feel there should just be a bit more clarity to the dish. Somehow, it doesn’t quite lead with the custard, and the rubbly bits of caramelised white chocolate are extraneous.
Hyde is a sceney restaurant, and no doubt it has plans to lure the Ivy crowd to its shiny new terraces, bars and restaurants with a more interesting take on food. While it lacks the visceral excitement of Saltwater, and some of Whelan’s dishes could be pushed a bit further here, there are some very tasty bites, and it will have broad appeal. It’s not cheap. You could well find yourself running up quite the bill. But it is likely to be fun.
Dinner for two with a bottle of wine was €125.
THE VERDICT: Tasty sharing plates with Asian influences
Music: Synth and chill lounge music
Food provenance: Sustainable Seafood, McLoughlin’s meat, La Rousse Iberico pork, McNally Farm
Vegetarian options: Very limited, on request; a vegetarian menu is planned
Wheelchair access: Accessible, with accessible toilet