The Greenhouse opened on the 26th March 2012, located towards the end of Dawson street at the St Stephen's Green end, near the Mansion House and opposite the Thomas Pink shop. I give these unusually explicit directions since the restaurant seemingly has no street number, an Irish eccentricity (this is a country without postcodes other than a partial attempt in Dublin) that may seem mildly endearing until you actually try and find the place. It certainly defeated the taxi driver.
The Greenhouse's head chef is Mickael Viljanen, a Finn who has lived in Ireland since 1999, and has a charming accent that is a blend of the two countries. After catering college he became a head chef at the tender age of 23 at a restaurant called PK's in Finland, and in Ireland worked with Paul Flynn (ex head chef at Chez Nico in London) at The Tannery in 2007/2008. He was then head chef of Gregans Castle in County Clare for four years before opening The Greenhouse. He had a team of five chefs in the kitchen today.
The ground floor, 40 seat dining room, is a bright room plenty of natural light, with banquette seating, wooden floor and quite tightly packed tables set with good quality white linen. The restaurant has complimentary wifi for its guests, which was a nice touch. At lunch there was a three course set lunch menu priced at €30, while the five course tasting menu was €55. The wine list had just over a hundred bottles, ranging in price from €20 to €290, with an average price of €45, and an average mark-up level of exactly three times retail price. Examples wines include Saxenburg Private Collection Shiraz Stellenbosch 2006 at €48 for a wine that you can find in the high street for €20, Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir from Dundee Hills 2008 at €75 for a wine that you can buy in the shops for €29, and Château Léoville Barton St Julien 2006 at €250.00 for a wine that will set you back €70 to buy in a shop.
My second meal at The Greenhouse was a full dinner rather than the set lunch that I had eaten previously. It started with an array of nibbles: Parmesan tuiles, crispy cod skin, green apple meringue with smoked eel and beach mustard, beetroot meringue with chicken liver parfait. The best of these were the ultra-light tuiles and the beetroot meringue, the beetroot nicely balancing the richness of the excellent chicken liver parfait (7/10 on average, 8/10 for the tuile and beetroot meringue).
Beef tartare was wrapped in pickled celeriac, and was highly aged Dexter beef (115 days apparently), served with confit egg yolk, truffle puree and a caper and raisin dressing – this was a modern take on the traditional dish, deconstructing the tartare, and was lovely (7/10). Crab from County Clare was served with an emulsion of 36 month aged Parmesan, local radish, avocado mousse, horseradish snow with sea lettuce. The Irish crab tasted very fresh, the avocado ripe, and the hint of horseradish lifted the dish and balanced the emulsion (7/10).
I had the foie gras Royale once again, and it was everything that it was before (strong 7/10, pushing 8/10). Turbot with sea vegetables came with a Swedish anchovy emulsion, poached lobster and broccoli. The turbot itself was superb, coming from a large 5.5kg fish, and the lobster was perfectly tender, the emulsion working beautifully with the fish (8/10). Celeriac accompanied a dish of monkfish, while roast scallops came with girolles, black olives, Irish butter milk emulsion and cauliflower emulsion; again the cooking was accurate and the flavour balance good (7/10). Rump of lamb was served with sweetbread, liquorice stick, cavolo nero, lemon purée and anchovy emulsion. The lamb was gorgeous, cooked exactly right, the garnishes working well together (7/10).
Strawberries marinated with rose vinegar came with jasmine and milk mousse, milk crisp and goat milk ice cream; this was enjoyable, though the rose flavour was quite potent (6/10). Valrhona chocolate was served with whiskey ice cream, yeast tuile, candy olives, onion caramel and a passion fruit mousse, the mousse having good texture, and passion fruit and chocolate are a classic combination (6/10). Petit fours were excellent, including moist rum baba, chocolate truffles with lemon, blood orange jelly, salted caramel and a delicate Madeleine (7/10).
The dinner element was priced at €68, the entire meal including wine coming to €147 (£116) per head. Service was excellent throughout the evening. This was, once again, a superb meal; Mickael is without doubt one of the most talented chefs in Ireland.
My first meal here was a lunch in April 2012.
Three nibbles arrived. Green apple meringue with herring roe and bacon fat powder may sound odd but worked really well, the flavours surprisingly harmonious (7/10). Malt vinegar and Parmesan tuiles were delicate (6/10) while a roast onion gougere had roast onion powder on top giving a little bitterness to balance the sweetness of the onion, but for me this was a little too bitter (4/10). Bread was made from scratch in the kitchen, a choice of dark Finnish rye bread or sourdough. Both had good texture (6/10) and were served warm, with an Irish butter from County Cork, from Glenilen farm.
My starter was a pretty dish of foie gras royale, with apple and walnuts. The foie gras mousse had smooth texture and lovely flavour, its richness balanced by the acidity of the apple. An extra textural dimension to the dish was brought by the addition of foie gras powder, made with chicken stock and foie gras and turned into powder in a Thermomix, a final element to the dish being a shallot crisp. This was an example of modern technique being used in a constructive way rather than just showing off, since the powder nicely balanced the texture of the mousse. This was a terrific dish, precisely balanced with lovely complementary flavours (7/10 is probably too mean a score).
The main course was 42 day-aged daube of beef, served with pomme mousselline, roast onion, roast leek, truffle purée, pickled celeriac and a little carbonara cream. The daube was tender and avoided dryness, the pickled celeriac bringing a welcome astringent balance to the richness of the beef, while the subtle celeriac and truffle added a pleasing earthy flavour note. Again the balance of the dish was very skillful (easily 6/10).
Passion fruit soufflé showed that the pastry section of the kitchen could also deliver, the soufflé having excellent passion fruit flavour, light in texture and cooked evenly through, served with a good passion fruit ice cream and a little ginger and white chocolate sauce (7/10).
Coffee came with mini rum baba with creme fraiche. Rum baba is a treacherous dish, easily drying out, but here it was rich and moist (7/10). The bill, with no wine but mineral water, came to an almost embarrassingly low €38.85 before service. This for three amuse-bouches, three courses and petit fours, an absolute steal for food of this quality. Service was good throughout too. The Greenhouse has quickly caused a stir in the Dublin dining scene, and it is easy to see why. Book now while you can still get in.