If you’re a bit of a brunch fiend like us then at some stage you have probably had the pleasure of leaving Temple Garner’s San Lorenzos in a food coma induced state. Having made his popular venue the go to brunch destination in the city, Temple has now decide to expand and go back to his classical French roots and take a punt in the suburbs.
You don’t get much more suburban than Monkstown, and we were surprised to learn he and Conor Kavanagh (ex-The Old Spot) were embarking on a new adventure together in what was once home to Seapoint Restaurant.
We tried, unsuccessfully, to get a Saturday booking, as with most locations the new kid in town will always be popular. The fact that Garner has decided to go the white linen, fine dining route raised a few eyebrows when so many chefs are doing the opposite.
Garner knows how to run a successful, casual restaurant but felt it there was a gap in Monkstown for a “proper French restaurant” and so Bresson, named after a famous French photographer, was born.
Not a lot has changed aesthetically, the room remains the same with the addition of some smart photography adorning the walls and of course the crisp white linens.
Garner spent many of his formative years as a chef creating more classical dishes and Bresson’s menu certainly reflects that. Retro sounding, hearty dishes such as Bouillabaisse, Fondue et Légumes and Rabbit Fricassée give you a good flavour of what to expect.
Monkstown is very well serviced when it comes to restaurants and we hoped to add Bresson to the list of others we enjoy such as Lobstar, Avoca and Le Plancha. However is can be hard to lure the locals away from the established favourites.
We arrived on a Sunday evening which is considered a quiet night in most venues but we were delighted to finally get a booking. Regular readers will know we have a soft spot for old school cuts so up first was Sauteed Duck Livers (€12). Refined presentation and hearty dishes generally do not go hand in hand. Garner however excels in this art, Puy lentils, charred onion, apple, Bayonne ham & frisée salad, with a rich date chutney made quite the opening act.
Across the table a Salmon Tartare (€9.50) sat forming a perfect disc of Clare Island organic salmon, packed with tiny nuggets of avocado and shallot, lime, dill and cream fraiche. Garner is known for his value for money plates and this is a substantial starter, however you may not want to share !
Bresson is very much about indulgence and we were more than happy to support that. We have yet to taste a scallop quite like Garner’s Coquille St-Jacques (€23), to us this dish embodies everything the restaurant is claiming to be.
Three gratinated Kilkeel specimens arrived in a half shell, oozing Gruyére cheesy delight, in a creamy white wine sauce, with some leek, pomme purée and parsley. Tucked beneath was a chaudrée of brown shrimp and smoked haddock, in a word “scallop-porn”. A beautiful match for our bottle of Demorganzen DMZ Chenin Blanc 2016 from Stellenbosch (€39).
Bresson’s wine list was compiled by wine consultant Phil Green, who has done a stellar job creating a diverse, and interesting offering. With over 22 options by the glass and several half bottles it is clear the team are mindful of their location and have a desire for Bresson not to be just a local gem but a destination for Northside “blow ins” like us also.
Our second main was equally as impressive, you can’t get more classic than Duck á L’Orange (€28), there are several fine dining French inspired menus around Dublin but rarely do we see this making an appearance nowadays. Our last time having it was a less favourable hotel dining experience where the menu was more stuck in a time warp rather than giving a nod to retro dishes.
A picture speaks a thousand words and see above for proof of an exquisite, perfectly cooked Skeaghanore duck breast. A simple blood orange and basil salad, with some greedy little duck fat roasties was all this perfectly rendered bird required.
For dessert the quintessential French go-to of Creme Brûlée (€8.50) made a welcome appearance. You either love it or hate it, we veer more on the former, and Garner’s had a wonderful cracking to the sugar which revealed a tasty, satin and silk vanilla custard below.
We are serious desserts fans and never shy away from a good pud and Bresson’s Prune & Armagnac Trifle (€8.50) is quite simply a triumph of trifles, boozy as hell and enough cream to instantly raise your blood pressure, in other words we bloody loved it.
Bresson is certainly standing out from the crowd, just like the new kid in school who’s a little bit cooler than everyone else but is understated about it. It is retro yet feels refreshing, Temple Garner has a long established history of cooking top quality dishes and on the night we dined there he exceeded all expectation.
We really enjoyed Bresson and wish the team the very best of luck in this competitive little corner of the world, if the struggle to secure a booking was anything to go on they won’t be needing it anytime soon.
Dinner for two with a bottle of wine came to a very reasonable €128.50.
REVIEW BY JULES MAHON