For months Shelbourne Social has been the talk of the town, with food lovers eagerly awaiting the new venue from chef Dylan McGrath. Located in the leafy area of Ballsbridge, the venue matches the affluent of the surrounding neighbourhood. The stylish new eatery is the sixth restaurant from McGrath and his business partner Vincent Melinn, with McGrath’s brother Billy Creaney and Gerard Melinn also playing vital roles in the business. Together with the owners, Shelbourne Social was designed, detailed and project managed by award-winning practice, Harcourt Architects. Interiors were designed in collaboration with Harcourt and London based designers 20.20 who also designed Hospitality Suites at Arsenal.
Shelbourne Social has had a whopping €3 million investment and is evident in the sleek interiors, leather-topped tables and marble-covered first floor bar.
Already a busy venue, I managed to get a booking one evening in the lead up to Christmas, and my dining companion was all too eager to join me. We arrived a little earlier than necessary for our booking but used the time wisely to enjoy a cocktail in the upstairs bar.
The first cocktail to whet our whistle was the Soul Train (€13.00). A strong mixture of pisco, passion berry pepper, vanilla, sxollie pink cider, and elderberry. It was an instant hit with my dining companion and came served over an ice cube engraved with Shelbourne Social’s signature spiral logo.
For me, the Lady Day (€13.00) was a tempting option. A sweet concoction of xanté pear cognac, giffard vanilla, anise, lemon, cacao, pear, and egg white. A fruity cocktail with a hint of chocolate, that was almost like a dessert and a little too easy to drink.
Heading downstairs we took our seats for dinner. Deciding to share a selection of starters we couldn’t pass up the Hot Curd Bread (€7.00) that we had heard so much about. Served with black sesame seeds, hummus, fried garlic, and sesame oil, this flat almost pancake textured bread was completely irresistible. Warm bread slathered with hummus made our taste buds stand to attention.
A polished dish of Scallops (€14.00) was served with almond cream and grated lime. Slim slices of scallop sat in a luscious almond cream, that was scooped up enthusiastically, the lime giving the shellfish a zesty kick.
Up next a refreshing dish of Pressed Cumcumber (€8.50) made us feel completely guilt-free. Mixed with spiced avocado and toasted almonds it was a delicious dish. The creaminess of the avocado mixed with the crunch of nuts felt like an indulgent treat.
The stand out dish of our starters was undoubtedly the Torched Dexter Beef Tartare (€18.00). A skillet made up of garlic, confit egg, parmesan and slices of kohlrabi so thinly sliced they were gorgeously translucent.
Our waitress mixed the dish at our table, allowing the egg yolk to pull all the ingredients together with a lush and silky coating. The beef was just cooked enough to give it a charred taste, with a bright pink centre.
Large meat-centric sharing dishes feature heavily on the menu at Shelbourne Social. Hearty dishes that are without fuss and full of flavour. For the main event, we chose the Double Pork Tomahawk (€75.00). Aged for 35 days and thickly sliced with crisp skin. The meat was more than delicious retaining all of its flavour during its roasting.
Served in a large pan it has a family style feel to it, where guests can serve themselves. In keeping with the season, the pork was served with roast pumpkin, rosemary and pine nut. Juices from the pork lending flavour to the pumpkin, and pine nuts adding a bite to the dish.
We also opted for the Charred Tenderstem Broccoli (€14.00). A large plate of bright green broccoli was served with umami sauce, herbs and burrata. For the most part, sides are often an afterthought, a space to fill beside the main dish, but this was a stand-alone dish and surprisingly one of my favourites of the night. Creamy and satisfying mounds of burrata oozed onto al dente broccoli. The savory umami sauce made returning for repeated forkfuls an unbeatable task.
Almost reaching our capacity of food we decided to split a dessert. Soft Serve Smoked Banana Ice-Cream (€8.00) was the order of the evening, an apetitising option that didn’t sound too heavy. Smooth and smokey banana ice-cream was flecked with vanilla and served with caramelised rice crispies and miso caramel. The caramel being far too delectable and vanished all too quickly.
The location of Shelbourne Social will, of course, see many business people grace its doors, and its proximity to the RDS will draw concert goers who want to fill up before hitting the town. McGrath is well versed in the restaurant business, and no doubt this new restaurant will be another winner. Here style is backed with substance and Dublin gains another delicious haunt.
T: +353 01 9639777
REVIEW BY SINÉAD SMYTH