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Delahunt review: This Dublin restaurant has raised its game spectacularly

This place serves a generous multi-course tasting menu in one of the capital’s loveliest diningrooms

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Address: 39 Camden Street Lower, Dublin, IE D02 K277
Telephone: 01 598 4880
Cuisine: Modern International
Cost: €€€

Unwittingly, I have turned up too early for my booking and there is a bit of a kerfuffle as the Tock reservation system whirrs through its list. Would it be booked under another name, the gatekeeper inquires. Rick Street perhaps? Rick Street! Who wouldn’t want to be Rick Street? But my anodyne pseudonym pops up faster than I can snap up the rebrand, and yes, they can seat us now, at a very comfortable booth it transpires. Although, a few cocktails in the bar upstairs would have been a far from unpleasant way to fritter away the time.

Delahunt has one of the loveliest diningrooms in Dublin. Its Edwardian DNA was retained as it evolved from its former life as Carvill’s off-licence to the restaurant that Harry and Meghan popped into for a bit of nosh in 2018. It has always had a set menu, but more recently, has moved to an €80 multi-course tasting menu in the evening (like the city craves yet another one).

At least it’s not the Fátima secret approach – I’m not sure I can face another “surprise” menu – although the cryptic list of a few words per course reveals little beyond visions of a preponderance of fish. So a bottle of Antech Chardonnay (€44) is called upon to do the libatory honours.

Snacks, it transpires, are very much in the plural sense of the word – a fish tostada; house-made mozzarella with translucent slices of candy-striped beetroot; beef tartare drizzled with burnt apple, a hint of horseradish poking through; and ham hock, delightfully piggy, on a decidedly good quinoa cracker. Chicken liver mousseline, foamy and light textured, hovers on top of a far more pensive pâté; it’s in a gelée, yes, classic French stuff, and there’s focaccia and sourdough to scoop it all up. It’s only at this stage that we get to the first course.


Menu revelation number one: seabream, cucumber, buttermilk. I’m expecting something from the ceviche canon, but no, this is hot, the skin crisped from the grill with a scattering of salt and vinegar crumb. It’s fish and chips. And it’s joyful, oh does it eat well, the divine buttermilk sauce flanked by cubes of pressed cucumber and pickled apple, and a side dish of impossibly light potato and seabream croquettes.

A gold encrusted queen scallop follows, tender and fresh, its sweetness echoed in the grilled baby gem lettuce, all acting as top-notes for the more savoury grilled bacon, electrified with a swirl of chimichurri.

Abstruse descriptor number three: lamb, artichoke, courgette, anchovies. This is what you get when you buy a whole animal, butcher it in-house and cook it over charcoal using a robata grill. The lamb leg is a delicate pink, and the belly, such an underappreciated cut, has been slow-cooked and finished to a crisp, presented simply in a jus intensified with anchovies.

If you want to be French about things, you’ll have cheese before your dessert, keeping the savoury courses together, which they do here with a bowl of warm molten Gorgonzola, ready to be scooped up with slices of pear and oat flapjacks. It has me thinking that they could be flogging the hell out of a wine pairing, a Sauternes perhaps, that would also work with the dessert, but it’s just not that vibe here and all the better for it.

Dessert – peach, hay, pine – the fifth course for the number obsessed, is a light dish of peach and milk sorbet and a textural crumb that is scented with hay and perhaps some meadow sweet; followed by a small brownie topped with cream. Restrained and delicious.

There is something intuitive, spontaneous even, about the food in Delahunt. This may be because they now have a farm where most of the kitchen team spend one day a week, planting, harvesting and maintaining the space. There’s no sense that it’s a tasting menu designed to control costs, make the chef’s life easier or ensure dogged consistency on the off chance of a visit from a Michelin inspector. For once, it seems to be all about the diner with food that is utterly delicious, cooked with joy and an innate level of generosity.

Dinner for two with a bottle of wine, plus 12 per cent inclusive service charge, was €228.48.

The verdict: This goes straight on to my favourite restaurants list.

Music: Discreet – Belle and Sebastian, Feist and Ben Gibbard.

Food provenance: Glenmar Seafood, meat from Pat McLoughlin, some vegetables from the restaurant farm.

Vegetarian options: Full vegetarian and vegan tasting menu with advance notice. Vegan and veg options for lunch.

Wheelchair access: Accessible room with accessible toilet.

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly restaurant column