When you think of an ideal location for a fine dining restaurant Parnell Square isn’t necessarily the first place that might spring to mind. Steeped in history, some more chequered than others, one thing the square is not steeped in is eateries. With the exception of the much loved and revered Chapter One, you may be hard pressed to think of an alternative. Many people believed opening here was beyond a big risk. How wrong were they, almost two years on and The Hot Stove is still going from strength to strength.
Located to the rear of the Gardens of remembrance on the western side of the square and set in the basement of a stunning Georgian building, you would easily pass by The Hot Stove and never even know it was there. Much like its Owner/Head Chef Joy Beattie it is a low key venue, unassuming on the outside but beneath the surface is something truly special. From the moment we set foot inside on a freezing cold Wednesday we knew this was one lunch we wouldn’t be rushing.
The space itself is deceptively spacious, with a generous sized bar to the left and the main dining room to the right. No expense had been spared in the decor, the design has paid a gracious homage to the buildings original features, with a reclaimed stove taking centre stage almost making you feel like you’re in an episode of Downton Abbey. Meticulously exposed brick and Edwardian styled tiles give the room a luxurious yet homely feel and we think this is what makes this subterranean oasis unique, nothing feels contrived and this is reflected beautifully in the food. Being Northsiders we are more than happy to shout about something of this calibre on the other side of the Liffey for a change.
On the day we dined there, we had the option of two courses for €24 or three for €28 the lunch menu is short and sweet with a choice between three starters and threes mains. Not that that made any difference as all three choices were equally as appealing and more importantly not the usual suspects mimicked by so many city centre hotspots at present.
Beattie likes to do things her own way, and that was clear from our starters. We began with Smoked Haddock, not just any old haddock, a haddock who would have been proud he went out with such a cracking plate of ingredients. Hearty chunks of this gently smoked fish, disguised a Beattie Farm poached egg which oozed fittingly over each bite, but it was the curry oil which just blew us away and demonstrated that all is not what it seems in more ways than one at The Hot Stove.
Our second starter was a less cheffy affair of Cashel Blue Arancini, accompanied by an unusual “salad” of apple, walnut and celery. Don’t let the simple appearance fool you, this had the perfect combination of good taste and crowd pleasing all rolled into one.
So far so good, the main event began with a Pan Seared Hake, scorched to perfection leaving a crunchy bite atop the flaky fish. Nothing special about that right? What happens when you combine a stunning piece of hake with a creamy pumpkin risotto and expertly blanched samphire, suddenly it becomes special. We loved the way Beattie plays with ingredients and seems to have an inherent understanding of how to bring out the best in each and every one. Having worked in an array of top kitchens in London, France and even a stint in her neighbour Ross Lewis’s legendary venue it seems she has picked up some serious tricks along the way.
Hearty food with a winter comfort factor was exactly what we needed, after a quick toss up between the braised corned beef and the Black Faced Achill Lamb Shoulder the little lamb won out. What actually arrived was a unique take on this award winning lamb. A decadent piece of glazed meat arrived which fell apart with a mere tickle of the fork, neighboured with a chargrilled fennel, heirloom tomato purée and delicate grains of orzo. This was one seriously satisfying plate of food.
It may have been lunch but there was no way we were passing on dessert or that we were sharing. Being the huge Miley Cyrus fans that we are (not!) we couldn’t resist the temptation of the Passion Fruit Wrecking Ball. Out popped a deconstructed cheesecake layered with cream, shortbread, vanilla ice cream and some fresh passion fruit, nothing too fancy a bit like Miley herself but packing a mean punch.
Our second dessert was a far more elegant encounter, think Audrey Hepburn, perfectly put together and immaculately turned out. A refined Macroom Blackberry Cheesecake with a deliciously bitter sorbet, blackberry jelly and crushed walnuts. Simply put – a real class act.
The Hot Stove is doing something different, something special and we feel it is only a matter of time before the quality of the cooking here wins the accolades it truly deserves. This is a restaurant flying way below the radar in a striking setting and is well worth seeking out.
Our bill including two fine glasses of Macon Villages Burgundy and a large sparkling water came to €74.75