“An exceptional restaurant, unquestionably. An extraordinary experience, absolutely” – a bold, and let’s be honest, a brave tagline for any new restaurant. However Glovers Alley by Andy McFadden isn’t “any” restaurant it is undoubtably one of the highest profile openings Dublin has seen in quite some time.
Housed next to the fiver star Fitzwilliam hotel overlooking St.Stephen’s Green, in what was once home to Michelin starred Thornton’s, Glover’s Alley has been designed to wow in every aspect. If you were fortunate enough to have sampled Kevin Thorton’s culinary wizardry you will recognise nothing of the previous owners.
A massive investment has gone into Glover’s Alley by the Fitzwilliam Group. They are on a mission, a Michelin mission. One of London’s finest chefs, Andy McFadden who had a Michelin star since the age of 25 with Pied á Terre, has been lured back to his Dublin roots with a share in the restaurant and an Executive Chef role.
Many a chef had expressed how hard they believed the space would be to make profitable or successful, but McFadden saw the vision. A vision to create a luxurious dining space like this city had never seen.
€1.3 million is a serious amount of investment to plough into any venue, when you walk through the doors you can see why. This is a dining room with a mega wow factor, London based designers Project Orange have done an incredible job on the glamorous design. Moss-green leather and blush-pink velvet upholstery, seductive mirrored ceilings and brass light fittings all add to the “bling” factor.
Walking through the doors we instantly thought this room could easily be hosting an episode of “Made in Chelsea”, with one distinct difference – the cast in Glovers are first rate from the kitchen to the front of house.
McFadden’s right hand man and Head Chef is Philip Roe, a Dundrum native, who ironically has worked with both Andy McFadden and Kevin Thornton in the past and has top class pedigree in his experience in Michelin starred kitchens.
Ed Joliffe is the General Manager and was very much front and centre on the Friday evening we dined, having come from Chapter One, where he was the Head Sommelier we knew we could expect warm service and an interesting wine list.
Wine will be a big feature we expect, in addition to Joliffe, Glovers have managed to poach James Brooke from Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud as their Head Sommelier, with Scott White as his assistant sommelier. White is also ex Patrick Guilbaud and has worked in some of the world’s top Michelin venues, starting to see a theme?
The last piece of the puzzle comes in the female form, out front the charming Laura Becker who many will know from her previous role in Restaurant Forty One, whilst in the kitchen Pastry queen extraordinaire Aoife Noonan will be cooking up some exceptional desserts.
With a team as experienced as this and prices that may bring a tear to some eyes, expectation was very, very high, even for the first night of service.
Consistency for McFadden is everything so he decided not to take full capacity bookings for the first week and instead let the team bed in and ensure each dish is perfectly executed.
On the night we dined we were disappointed to learn an á la carte menu wasn’t available until the following week, not ideal for a review but serves us right for coming in on opening night!
Instead we were presented with a seven course tasting menu (€80) and optional wine pairings (€170), given the fact Glovers have three of the top sommeliers in the country we threw caution to the wind and decided to opt for the wine pairings to get a good flavour of the offering.
The list created by the team will continue to grow but already there are some stunning examples, the house red, El Castro de Valtuille Mencia priced at €35 is deliciously drinkable. That said, if you are on a blowout there is no shortage of vintage wines to impress.
We kicked our evening off with Clogherhead Crab, Turnip, Ponzu and Sorrell paired with a Schloss Gobelsburg, Gruner Veltliner which worked beautifully to cut through the tartness of the ponzu.
Next up was an interesting dish of Smoked Cheddar Dumplings, Ham Hock & Pommery Mustard, beautifully plated. This cheese lover’s dream was absolutely sublime, a tricky one to pair well, and the jury is still out if the Emrich Schönleber Riesling Trocken 2016 was the right choice.
One thing we predict that will be a staple on the menu at Glovers Alley is the foie gras. McFadden’s course of Violet Artichoke, Hazelnuts, Grapes and a mouth-wateringly good foie gras was a real highlight, as was the generous shavings of truffle that graced it. A Mengoba Blanco ‘Godello Viejo Sobre Lias’ 2016 was a match made in heaven and certainly a drop we will seek out on our next visit.
So far so good, what we liked about the menu was that it was unique, McFadden has done his research in the months leading up to the opening he spent his time dining around Ireland’s best restaurants (yes we stalk chef social feeds, don’t judge) scoping out the competition and of course sourcing quality suppliers and local producers.
This was evident in our next dish of Pollock, Seaweed, Brassicas & Avruga, seaweed seems to be the ingredient du jour at present, however oddly enough pollock is not something we would often see on this side of the water, but in the UK it’s one of the most popular fish people buy. Cooked like this and we can understand why. The fact it was paired with the house red we previously mentioned may also have something to do with the fact we loved this dish so much.
Escargot (snails to you and us) can be a hard sell in Ireland, so seeing Gaelic Escargot listed on our next course was a pleasant although adventurous addition. Much of McFadden’s style is classically French insprired so escargot should be right at home here, however on this occasion we felt they just didn’t work with the Kid Goat, Anchovy and Gremolata. Separately the goat and escargot were beautiful but they seemed to fight against each other together.
The wine pairing however was simply stunning, a Muhr-Van der Niepoort Blaufränkisch Carnuntum 2011, one of the finest from this region, subtle and elegant much like our surroundings.
After several glasses of wine and six courses we were beginning to feel full, but nothing was standing in the way of Aoife Noonan’s Itakuja Chocolate, Passionfruit & Blood Orange creation. Noonan has spoken before of her love for classical French patisserie and what appeared would not have looked out of place in the most decadent of Parisian patisseries.
Paired with a 2007 Oremus Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos, which was a match made in heaven, we both agreed that the wine pairings were well worth the money given the quality of wines we sampled.
Glovers Alley by Andy McFadden is a bit of a seductress, with soft tones, beguiling dishes and a tantalising wine list, it is pretty hard not to fall in love at first bite. Judging by the rest of the room we were not the only ones falling for Glovers charms.
Seven Course dinner for two with wine pairings excluding service came to €340 and was worth every last cent!
Glovers Alley by Andy McFadden
128 St. Stephen’s Green,
T: +353 1 244 0733
REVIEW BY JULES MAHON