Go Fork Yourself: The Morrison Grill
Standing proudly on the north quays, the Morrison hotel has long maintained a reputation of quality. Closed for a drastic refurbishment, the hotel returned with the promise of getting in on the fine dining scene in Dublin. The Morrison Grill, coupled with its boozier counterpart, the Quay 14 bar, sit at the coalface of the Morrison’s lounge. Decked out in some very stylish new threads, the mood is sophisticated and the ambiance is buzzy.
To start, I joined my fellow diners in sampling some tasty bar treats, including deep-fried stuffed olives – these things were little golden balls of heaven! – and cocktails with Irish music namesakes. ‘Whiskey In The Jar’, served literally in a jar, is a tasty start and the ‘Bloody Mary’, while traditional in name is very un-traditional in taste and presentation. You are presented with a silver tray of various elements in a ‘design your own’ style, allowing you to add or take away heat and seasoning. The finish is a smokey bacon ‘Bloody Mary’, which is a meal in itself when you include the fried olives, celery and carrot stick side.
Did we mention the deep-fried stuffed olives? Oh. Ok, cool.
Sat at an elevated long table we were talked skillfully through each course by maître d Reneé, who even brought us on a tour of the kitchen. More on that later.
Starters featured a selection of miniature delicacies, with two feature pieces either end of the table and treacle bread from a recipe belonging to the Head Chef’s grandmother. D’aw. What she definitely didn’t provide was the two bell jars of smoke administered by our hosts to smoke salmon at the table. Nice theatre indeed. The wooden boards before us featured mussels with bread, a chowder, rabbit and ham ballotine, and lightly smoked salmon. The salmon was tender and meaty, the mussels garlicky and seasoned perfectly. My favourite was the ballotine: a mixture of ham hock, rabbit, black pudding and various nuts which had all diners in agreement about the course highlight.
We were shown the famous Prosser oven before ordering, which had served only to make us hungrier. A specialist fire oven that reaches temperatures of over 500 degrees, its particular talent is crisping steak on the outside while allowing the innards to stay pink and tender. So, when selecting mains, it would have been plain rude to order anything else. Rump for me please.
Encrusted in porcini mushroom dust and accompanied with mushroom ketchup, Bearnaise and peppercorn sauce, the rump was by far the best steak I’ve ever had. Fries on the side were a little plain and lacked the pazazz of the steak. Breaking with tradition here might have been nice, just to up the wow factor in a similar vein to BEAR’s horseradish slaw or millionaire fries.
Stuffed as I was, the dessert selection dish was not to be sniffed at: six individual desserts, served on a vintage style floral plate. In truth, they were a little lost on such a big plate with a loud decor. Nonetheless, they were delicious treats that, due to their size, were more guilt-free than most desserts. A chocolate thing, a lemon and coconut crunchy thing, a standard pistachio cake, a lemon and rosewater thing. However, the absolute pinnacle of this had to be the smokey honeycomb pieces strewn randomly around the plate. Very unusual, and a great combination of traditionally savoury with sweet.
Overall the dining experience was first rate. Wonderfully prepared, premium food with a heavy focus on flavour experience, food theatre and an Irish twist on high end fayre. The Morrison Grill is tasty, classy and interesting. I’d recommend it for a place to impress or to celebrate a milestone event, but not a casual dinner with mates.