This Basement Restaurant On Parnell Square Is A Real Hidden Treasure
AND they serve Walnut Whips
The far end of O'Connell Street is a bit of a black spot when it comes to good dining experiences.
You have some amazing Asian restaurants and the new Clery's promises to bring more good food to the area but in general the culinary delights are sparse at best.
Set against that backdrop there is of course one huge exception and arguably the very best restaurant in Ireland: Chapter One. Although it's set in a basement (always hard for a restaurant) Chapter One has shone, is incredibly profitable and has a huge, loyal fan base.
A couple of hundred yards from Ross Lewis' Michelin starred delight is a new offering that is very much cut from the same cloth. Mr Fox is also in a basement, also on the unfashionable (for restaurants) Parnell Square and also pitches itself as a fine dining restaurant.
They've been open since November but there has been very little fanfare about this place unless you read newspaper restaurant reviews, which the vast majority of the world don't these days.
This used to be the home of the wonderful Hot Stone restaurant but as with so many foodie offerings in this city it was time for change. A new hand tossing the pans by the stove.
The room is as big, bright and welcoming as you could imagine for a basement restaurant with sunlight pouring in from all angles and good lighting. We were one of only three tables here for a lunch though, which should be a time when a restaurant is packed to the gills, especially for the new kid on the block.
I started with devilled eggs which were an absolute delight and a dish that should be making a comeback. Unfashionable to the extreme after being overdone in the '80s but fundamentally sound as something tasty to eat. They came with wonderful home made bread and dips.
Mains were some wonderful gnocchi which was the perfect portion size and beautifully executed unlike some of the heavy mush you get served in other places. A cod dish was light, tasty and exactly what I was craving.
Some baby carrots with spicy oil were a perfect side dish.
The whole meal for me though was all about the desserts. The pastry chef clearly had a hankering for a bygone era with a wonderful iceberger served simply wrapped in parchment paper and wonderfully branded. My chocolate dessert was a delight with all sorts of flavours and textures but half way through eating that dish a surprise appeared... two Walnut Whips.
They tasted exactly like the snack that I used to enjoy in my younger days and trying them brought me a sense of wonder and magic.
Mr Fox is good. Very good. I just hope enough people visit to make it a success. I really do.