This Stylish City Spot Always Hits the Mark – The Marker Hotel Restaurant Review

While I’ve always looked forward to getting out for dinner, having a delicious weekend treat to anticipate has become utterly essential for my wellbeing as a food lover since restaurants began to reopen after several months of lockdown.

Dinner deliveries and high end takeaways from some fantastic restaurants saw us through many long months, and many of my formerly dusty cookbooks are now well dog eared and stained. That said, nothing beats getting dressed (up, even) and actually leaving the house to enjoy great Irish hospitality and importantly, let someone else worry about the logistics of the perfect dinner experience. 

Although tempting to stay within walking distance and hit up neighbourhood eateries (and we certainly have since emerging in the last few weeks), we decided to head a little closer to town to an old favourite, one where every visit feels like a glamorous occasion – The Marker. Heels and masks on, we headed in a taxi for the bright lights of Grand Canal Dock.

At the moment, what is probably Dublin’s most stylish hotel is serving a hybrid menu in The Marker Bar as the Brasserie is yet to reopen, and their famous Rooftop Bar is welcoming diners for the city’s most scenic cocktails and bites. Alas, with a summery storm a-brewing, on this blustery evening we took a seat inside near the fire in the super chic bar and our Saturday night could officially begin with wine and nibbles.

The new menu is designed to suit all tastes, there are options on the a la carte for all day diners and ones which will make for a delectable dinner. Classics, well executed as you would expect from Head Chef Gareth Mullins, are supplemented with a special menu of more Brasserie-esque dishes which reads very temptingly indeed. We opted to mix and match from both.

For pushing the boat out, there is Bubbleclaws, a lobster and Ayala Champagne feast for €120 for two, and having watched it arrive at a neighbouring table, I shall be indulging on my next visit come rain or shine…

However, with peak 2020 gales howling outside, I thought to myself if I can’t be somewhere sunny, my starter of plump Baked Tiger Prawns in tomato, garlic and chilli sauce would be enough to make me feel like I had managed a little escape, with a perfectly chilled glass of Picpoul. Trust me, you will need that mound of sourdough and want to mop every last bite. 

Across the table, a delicate Smoked Haddock and Prawn Fishcake was all killer, no filler, packed with the good stuff, audibly crisp and finished with piquant caper berries and moreish tartare. Two stellar seafood starters, perfectly light to leave room for meaty mains.

The John Stone Butcher’s Secret, or hangar steak, is thick and generous like a fillet and crowned with peppercorns like a fillet, but the comparisons end there. The cut butchers apparently prefer to keep for themselves has far more flavour per bite, melting marbling throughout and a fantastic richness. The butcher’s secret shouldn’t be shrouded in mystery and deserves to be on more menus, we agree, as my dining companion swears himself a convert. 

Before me was a pretty in pink Duck Breast, fanned out and dotted with tart blackberry, vibrant orange coulis and the bitterness of tender braised chicory. An elegant dish which would definitely be at home on Mullins’ Brasserie menu, this was delicate, well pitched and thoroughly enjoyed.

Although tempted by the thought of lingering all night over every cocktail on the menu, we found ourself giving thanks for that all-American favourite dessert to end our dinner on a sweet note. Cue fighting over a perfect sticky and toasty Pecan Pie and milking every last one of our 105 minutes in the Marker.

We were sad to say goodnight to the Marker – there was laughter and there was life and crucially, I was having dinner and drinks somewhere far more chic than my own living room.

I’ve always loved this space for its contemporary high ceilings and airiness, but this is all the more appreciated now with room to swing a cat between our table and the next. Add to that staff who manage to exude warmth behind masks and Gareth Mullins’ reliably delicious dishes and you have all the hallmarks of a wonderful evening out. 

Nowadays, we need to love our favourite places like we’re going to lose them. The Marker is one of the many spots doing their very best and more to ensure we can return to our beloved dining out rituals and feel safe and oh so well looked after, before we even take our first bite. I only regret not checking in for the night…

WRITTEN BY DARINA COFFEY

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