December can be a funny old month in the restaurant business, many are bursting at the seams with punters meaning long hours for staff which can often lead to service, food and atmosphere being affected.
With that in mind we tend to steer away from reviews until the quiet end of the month when all have a chance to catch a breath and return to a bit more normality. Only one problem, as we found out – many restaurants were closed until after the New Year.
Thankfully a venue we have overlooked for far too long Mulberry Garden was not, which considering that they only open three nights a week – Thursday to Saturday – was a pleasant surprise.
Tucked away in a secluded little spot in Donnybrook, Mulberry Gardens is quite a unique location and certainly not one that relies on passing trade. Instead they rely on word of mouth and the excellent reputation they have for somewhere to go for a special dining experience.
The building itself dates back to 1911 and the original cottage has been renovated to a contemporary space that still manages to maintain an air of charm about it.
Mulberry like to champion everything Irish, not just the produce but also the artwork, linen, cutlery, even the hand soaps are Irish. A nice little touch of keeping it local and one Irish business supporting another, more of this please!
The menu is seasonal and consists of a three course set for €49 per person, so reasonable enough especially given the location and quality of the dishes. This may not appeal to everyone but the options are fairly varied and they should have something for everyone.
We arrived to a buzzy room just before New Year’s Eve so, no surprise, parts of the menu were quite festive. After a mountain of turkey and ham we had a craving for some seafood and began with a delightful starter of Seared Scallop which sat proudly in a sea of cauliflower soup, with a drizzle of chive oil and tiny nuggets of Goatsbridge trout caviar hidden beneath like buried treasure.
With a choice of only three mains you’ll not have any difficulty making a swift decision and a veggie option had no appeal for us so it was straight onto the good stuff – Wild Halibut, cooked beautifully, perhaps sous vide, as a tempting moist rectangle sat before us – dedicate flakes combined with cannellini beans, mushrooms, tiny cubes of Gubbeen chorizo and a swirling of dill sauce.
Maybe it was all the poultry over Christmas but this was a very welcome, light and flavoursome plate of food.
Dessert consisted of a small Irish cheese board with some Gubbeen, Durrus and Cashel Blue making an appearance, what better way to finish off the last few sips of our Banfi with some apple and homemade wafer thin crackers.
Mulberry is the type of restaurant where no one is rushed from their table and the relaxed vibe and friendly service from all the staff, particularly duty manager Ryan, was refreshing to see given how busy the last few weeks had been for them. We finished our evening with some Earl Grey tea and Petit Fours, sat back and reflected on why the hell we hadn’t been here sooner.
Mulberry Garden is an absolute gem, the type of place you don’t want to tell anyone about for fear of not getting a booking next time, but this place is too good not to share. It has managed to combine all the elements that leave diners happy on departure, great food , great staff who love what they do and a wonderful atmosphere.
Dinner for two including wine and a bottle of sparkling water came to €181.95
Mulberry is closed until January 11th so get booking !
REVIEW BY JULES MAHON