We waved farewell to our English chums as they headed home to Germany. We caught the DART to Tara St Station and began the O’Connell St walk north of the River Liffey. Custom House was glanced at briefly before heading to the GPO – such an important site in the history of the republic. It was out the front of this building that the Proclamation of Irish Independence was read, and the stone walls and plinths still bear the pock marks of the shrapnel of the Easter Rising – the GPO housed the rebel headquarters.
On our walk further up O’Connell St we passed the Gate Theatre where Orson Welles and James Mason made their professional acting debuts. The Garden of Remembrance was our final stop on this excursion and was a particularly pretty memorial honouring the 1916 uprising – the pool of remembrance was tiled with a mosaic of Celtic weapons, symbolising peace by having been thrown in the water.
The taxi dropped us at the Shelbourne’s Horseshoe bar for champagne. It was so packed that we asked to share a table with 3 people (2 of whom were teachers celebrating graduating with masters) and proceeded to have a delightful and energetic chat that rambled in many directions and was enjoyable for all involved. Almost a shame we had to duck off, really . . . Oh, who am I kidding?! We were going to Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud for dinner, so it wasn’t THAT much of a hardship to dump our new friends of 30 minutes for probably the finest restaurant in Ireland (with 2 Michelin Stars, no less!).
Patrick Guilbaud’s was absolute perfection!!! When we arrived through the discrete front door to the townhouse – a classy plaque the only indication that we had come to the right place – our coats were whisked into cupboards secreted in the wall and we were shown to the lounge for a pre-dinner aperitif – choosing between 3 famous French champagnes was very difficult, but we went with the Laurent Perrier. Our table was at the end of the dining room with our backs to the wall – the spectacular view before us of the ballet of waiters, sommeliers and various ranks of maître d’s gracefully gliding through the intricate choreography that is fine dining service. All staff was French, and it was a particular highlight when Monsieur Guilbaud himself came to our table, shook our hands and enquired if all was satisfactory. Surreal and sublime, M’sieur, merci beaucoup! Go to Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
For the meal itself, we shared our courses so that we got to savour 4 dishes instead of 2 – a most satisfactory plan! (Actually more than 4 if you count the amuse bouche the kicked off the meal!) Starters were: roast Castletownbere scallops, light garlic emulsion, parsley Pedro Ximenez reduction; fine tart with fennel, pollen, raw and marinated vegetables, Saint Tola goat’s cheese. We followed with: poached Annagassan blue lobster, butter radish, green apple and lime jus; braised Atlantic turbot, fregola sarda, heritage carrot, truffle and citrus vinaigrette. We entrusted our wine choices to our sommelier, whose selections complimented our culinary delights beautifully.
After the meal, we were shown back to the lounge where our whiskey and calvados awaited with some dessert versions of amuse bouche – various tiny delectable chocolate mouthfuls! This restaurant and the meal were completely perfect and unforgettable. What wasn’t perfection, however, was walking back to our digs only to discover one amber earring missing. Nic had put her coat collar up to ward off the cold, actually felt that both earrings were there, and strode off into the night (ignoring the instinct to remove the earrings for safe keeping). The coat collar must have dislodged it somehow during the energetic walk. Spent 2 hours retracing our steps back into Dublin centre and then home again, but bollocky shitity brickity – no earring!