“Good evening Madam.”
“Good morning. Sorry,” I replied, like an idiot.
I’d only been to the Shelbourne once in my life and that was nearly ten years ago for a big family event. I can barely remember it at this stage.
I wasn’t used to being treated like royalty. Once inside the revolving doors, people were rushing over me to help me find where I was going to, to take my coat, and ask me if I needed anything.
I was there to try out the hotel’s special five-course tasting menu (€96 inc. champagne) and it’s fair to say that, as a 25-year-old journalist, it would be a little bit different to my usual night out.
If a five-course meal in one of Dublin’s fanciest hotels wasn’t impressive enough, each course is also accompanied by a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne so it was the ultimate luxury dining experience.
Tasting menus can often seem intimidating as rather than having full control over your order, you’re putting your fate in the hands of the chef.
The thing is, they know best – especially somewhere like The Shelbourne – and everything was perfect. Even things I didn’t normally like, like beetroot, tasted amazing.
I had the vegetarian tasting menu. To start, we all had a cappuccino of Jerusalem artichoke, which was easily the best soup I have ever tasted. My mouth is watering just remembering it.
This was matched with the Laurent Perrier Brut.
For the second course, the vegetarians had the pickled winter salad. Non-vegetarians had seared scallop. Unfortunately, the salad looked so colourful and refreshing that I started eating it without remembering to take a picture first.
It was perfectly paired with Ultra Brut, the no sugar champagne, which was light and almost too easy to drink.
The third course for vegetarians was seared artichoke with aubergine caviar, while non-veggies had turbot with chilled oyster cream and caviar. We were given glasses of the Rosé to accompany it and the artichoke was flavoured with lemon and pepper. Sublime.
For the fourth course, there was celeriac ravioli for the vegetarians and roast guinea fowl with Alsace bacon and champagne foam for everyone else. The ravioli itself was made of thinly cut slices of celeriac, right to the bite, with a mild cheese filling. This was paired with Brut Millésimé from 2006.
It’s during times like this that you start to understand the difference between a functional meal and a dining experience, as everything worked seamlessly together and was so memorable.
For dessert, we had the vanilla panna cotta and poached rhubarb with a caramel crisp – along with a glass of the best champagne that Laurent-Perrier has to offer, the Grand Siécle.
Out of curiosity, I took out my wine app, Vivino, to find out how much it would cost to buy the bottle, and was humbled to learn that it would set you back €217.
Despite the five courses of food and the petit fours, little chocolates and pastries, I felt full but not uncomfortable.
Despite the numerous glasses of champagne,I felt merry but not drunk and I didn’t have a hangover the next day.
In the end, I had to leave to get the last (Dart) carriage home before the clock struck midnight, and so the fantasy ended.
I’d love if I could do this kind of thing more often, enjoying a night of fine food and champagne, but then I guess it wouldn’t have been as special.
You can find out more about the tasting menu at The Shelbourne here.