Delahunt- The Essence Of Contemporary Irish Cooking
Entrepreneurs are being lauded at the moment as Ireland looks to the knowledge economy and large multinationals like Google and Facebook to help us rebound from the recession. I personally think that growth of the restaurant scene has a lot to do with this city bouncing back to become even more exciting and edgy than it was 5-6 years ago. Restauranteurs are by their very nature entrepreneurs, and none more so than the two lads behind Delahunt on Camden Street. They've taken what was a run down off-license, which you can see in the photos below, and restored it into one of the most elegant and distinguished rooms in Dublin. This place has been meticulously designed down to the very last detail. It took a year of work to get it looking this good.
The decor is all about the wooden interiors, and the feel of the space is 70% restaurant and 30% bar (no photo will ever do it justice). They have a great craft beer selection and you can eat at the bar- just don't stop in here for a quick pint in your GAA jersey. What I loved most was the lack of branding. Unlike most pubs which have 6 foot high bar taps that completely hide the staff, Delahunt has a slick bar top with a gorgeous, iconic vintage Guinness tap. This place just kept ticking all the boxes- including the menu which was the next thing to impress. I fucking hate those huge, poster size menus that bamboozle you into ordering something you didn't really want. Delahunt kept it simple with four starters and four mains. These eight simple dishes all sounded tasty and I found two courses that I wanted to try within 30 seconds of looking at the menu. I was licking my lips in anticipation.
I started with the smoked salmon; it was light, sweet and insanely good. They smoke the salmon themselves using tea leaves. Their Guinness bread was the best I've ever tasted and was smeared with horseradish butter. It was the perfect starter. I sat there thinking that this is what contemporary Irish cooking is all about. While we may be known around the world for our good food, most people are not aware of what Irish cuisine really is. Well, this is it. Every hotel in Dublin and tourist guide should be sending guests here as an authentic Irish experience. The real fucking deal with no bullshit.
My fish main course was light, tasty and left me licking the plate and wanting more. I ordered champ to go with it and if I hadn't ordered that as a side I'd probably still have been hungry. With the champ, it was the perfect portion size but without it you might be left looking for more bread or something to fill you up. I didn't bother with a dessert (it being January and all), but I left feeling perfectly satisfied and vowing to return on a regular basis. I've not seen Irish cooking executed this well in years and I love that the guys behind it have stuck to their principles and created an incredible restaurant with outstanding food and service. Restaurants come and go as often as Irish rain in this city, but Delahunt is different. This isn't a chain or somewhere that has had a few ripped couches and some granny wallpaper thrown in to attract the hip crowd for six months- this place will be packed for years and years to come and will become known as one of the best Irish eateries. A new standard for contemporary Irish cooking has just been set. Delahunt is simply outstanding.