Like many of you other Dublin blow-ins, I'd passed by The Westbury hotel on Grafton Street heaps of times, without ever actually popping in.
My first experience with one of the city's swankiest hotels was when the Dead Rabbit bar from New York did a temporary takeover of their cocktail bar, The Sidecar Bar, and I couldn't get over how such a beautiful little nook had never made it onto my radar before.
And so, on to their restaurant Balfes. A much-needed catch up with my gal pals before Christmas led to four of us heading into Balfes at The Westbury, and it didn't disappoint.
An all-day dining restaurant, it does healthy breakfasts, leisurely lunches and dinner using the best of Irish seafood and quality meat.
The outdoor terrace has cosy blankets and heaters, while inside is Parisian bistro chic
The vibe here is elegant French style mixed with the edginess of a New York eatery that wouldn't look out of place in Chelsea in NY.
A snuggly terrace is ideal for gabbing away with the bonus of having a beautiful herringbone wool blanket by Donegal Woolen Mills draped over your knee.
Their sharing plates are ideal if you're peckish but don't want a full on meal
While they offer larger options such as steak, prawns and whole fish roasted on a charcoal grill, or fresh oysters, we went for the sharing plates, which were a charcuterie board, a seafood platter, and gooey fresh Buratta cheese.
The Charcuterie Plate (€16) comes with a selection of cured meats, pâté, olives, pickles & crusty sourdough and it's HUGE. A bitta cheese wouldn't go amiss, but the meats are delicious and I'm not ashamed to say I ate almost all of the pâté.
The Seafood Platter (€23.50) has grilled sambas, warm and shell on and juicy, cured organic salmon and Castletownbere crab that was nice and zesty.
A Burrata (€18) with roast cherry vine tomatoes, semi sundried tomato crème, olive oil & country loaf was a plump parcel of cheese that oozed out with its Mozzarella cream and was scooped up with the bread crusts. YUM.
And the only way to finish off the meal in this freezing weather is with a hot boozy drink
Balfes has recently added new Hot Toddies to their menu for winter, which include Hot Whiskeys, a Balfes Café Brulot with a renewing double shot of espresso infused with rum, orange and cinnamon topped with smooth cream, and a Hot Port with star anise.
We went for the Café Brulot, which was oddly bitter and was soon changed to a smoother Hot Chocolate with orange zest (which was divine), a Bailey's Coffee, and two Hot Ports.
Perfect for warming up frozen hands and ending the meal with something sweet that's lighter than dessert.
While you might think that dinner in a five-star hotel's restaurant would be only for special occasions, Balfes has a much buzzier and more relaxed vibe than I had imagined.
I can easily see myself swinging by here again for a quick bite to eat or some cocktails with friends - and after sampling just a taster of what's on the menu it's on my list of spots to go for a full blowout dinner v soon.