There are only a handful of iconic buildings along Dublin’s leafy Stephens Green that can evoke a real stirring of the soul, The Shelbourne, The Hibernian Club, The Cliff Townhouse and now the uber stylish addition of The Grayson, housed in the old Residence private members club building.
When news of the machine that is Press up Group swooping in and buying out the previous owners out in what seemed an over night deal, many an eyebrow was raised. This was quite a departure from the type of properties they have brought to Dublin City, elevating the nightlife culture to a new sophisticated levels with Sophies, Angelina’s and Roberta’s to name a few.
We had reviewed Residence as it was last year and were suitably impressed although not much aesthetically had changed the food could not be faulted. However sometimes good food simply isn’t enough.
The latter part of 2018 has seen a plethora of new venues pop up around Dublin, almost at an alarming rate. Is there really enough covers to fill these new hotspots, time will tell, however if trying to secure a booking in either The Ivy around the corner or The Grayson is anything to go by then is seems the answer is a resounding yes, if you can tick all the magic boxes of creating a stunning space, an electric atmosphere with good food and even better cocktails.
41 St.Stephen’s Green is a protected building built in 1745, so restructuring a big Georgian building like this can be tricky, however Paddy McKillen Jr & Co are seasoned pros are creating striking, spaces that utilise every inch available whilst respecting the original beauty of a venue – the Stella Theatre being a prime example.
As we walked through the now matt grey front door we were slightly surprised to see the same reception area since the old Residence days but given the burrow of rooms throughout the building the need for a meet and greet is in fairness warranted.
Just like Angelina’s the front of house team are experienced, warm and fun. The challenge here is to create a space where all will feel welcome but people can make all the difference and the old adage build it and they will come seemed to be ringing through on the busy Tuesday (yes Tuesday, which is now becoming my go to night out as Saturday bookings require the type of military planning I will never be capable of) we visited.
Winding our way up the impressive staircase it was hard not be impressed by the transformation from such a conservative space to a contemporary, fresh design at every turn. Dinner was oddly enough in the exact same room as when I reviewed it in its previous guise, gone are the crisp linen table cloths (hurrah for that) now replaced with sleek Italian marble tops, a perfect backdrop to the striking pop of colour from the vivid turquoise walls.
Head Chef Jacson Reboli who has relocated from Sophie’s at The Dean, has firmly put his stamp on the menu with some Brazilian nuances making a small appearance throughout some of the dishes.
We began with a starter of Roast Pork Belly (€11.50) which, to be fair portion wise could have easily passed for a main and was perhaps a little too generous for such a hearty dish. On the positive though can there ever be too much pork when its this delicious. Crispy rendered fat surrounded by melt in the mouth meat, pulled pork croquettes, puy lentils (kinda healthy right?) and an orange and watercress salad.
The carnivore in me was satisfied but would the pescatarian across the table feel the same… Thankfully yes, a well plated Pan Fried Scallops (€14.50) dish that will appeal to most didn’t disappoint, dressed with some pickled radish, a superb caramelised fennel puree and a sparkling of scallop roe dust first courses were a resounding success.
Mains are well spread; Rib Eye, seabream and Gnocchi all making an appearance, priced between €24-€32 putting them in line with most of their neighbours.
We opted for the Duck Breast (€28) with confit of leg, crushed sweet potato and some charred tender stem broccoli cooked medium to rare. A solid dish, well executed but it would be welcome to see a little more provenance listed on the menus.
Second main was an abundant plate of Pan Fried Halibut (€30) a little pricey but worth every cent, this is where Reboli’s Brazilian influence shone through with the addition of some crispy okra, heaps of ‘nduja ratte potatoes and a handful of samphire.
After two generous courses we decided to share an Artisan Irish Cheeseboard (€11) with some Ardsallagh goats cheese, Cashel Blue, Gubeen and quince jelly.
You cannot visit The Grayson and not pay a visit to their Glass-ceilinged atrium bar where expert mixologist Valentino whipped us up two perfectly balance “Old Fashioneds”, Thursday to Saturday this space transforms to a late night music venue, so perfect for those looking for a venue to while the whole night away.
The Grayson is another gilded feather in the Press Up Group’s cap, showcasing their apparent midas touch. Whether you are looking to impress a client over lunch, enjoy an intimate date night or dance the night away over cocktails, The Grayson has it all. We will definitely be returning only next time I’ll plan that Saturday night booking well in advance!
Dinner for two with two glasses of wine came to €114.00
41 St. Stephen’s Green,
T: 01 683 3680