This hotel restaurant proves itself as a must visit in its own right.
Last month we got the opportunity to try the new menu from Mapas restaurant, based within Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel in Killiney. Mapas is a contemporary Irish restaurant that strives to create an exceptional dining experience in a relaxed casual environment. They focus on provenance and sustainability, and believe that hyper seasonal, local ingredients treated simply with care and respect are the key to delicious cooking.
Hence their new autumn menu focuses on seasonality and minimal ingredients used in tandem to produce the most flavoursome combinations possible.
To get a feel for the new menu on offer, we were served a tasting version, complete with four appetisers, two starters, two mains, and two desserts.
Mapas restaurant has a totally different vibe from the hotel it is attached to. Where the Fitzpatrick Castle hotel is quaint and old school, with a royal quality befitting of its name, Mapas appears to have been carved into the basement and somehow manages to be both modern and rustic at the same time.
With a mixture of walls in both jagged stone and a painted deep sea blue, paired with the dark wood of the furniture and brassy golds of the hardware, the restaurant has a cosy cave-like quality, with soft low lighting emanating from a single white lamp on the table - the exact opposite of the bright white wallpaper and ornate furniture of the rest of the hotel.
Perhaps the downfall of many hotel restaurants, depending on how you look at it, is you don't feel like you're getting that fancy dining experience. Getting dressed up for a hotel dinner possibly feels as silly as putting on shoes for a meal in your own home depending on the vibe of the space, but Mapas transports you somewhere completely new.
The appetisers available aren't ground-breaking necessarily, but they were the perfect "picky" bits to get your stomach warmed up ahead of your meal.
We were served a thick hunk of beautifully fresh sourdough which was accompanied by olive oil and tangy pine vinegar, as well as a morsel of beef tartare (which is as much beef tartare as I ever really want) - these dishes would cost €5 and €6 respectively.
The olives (€3.50) and smoked almonds (€4.50) were delicious, presented with flowers on top, and would be ideal if you were looking for a few snacks to pair with some wine rather than a full meal.
The dishes were simple enough, using very few ingredients, but ones that matched together to really maximise the flavours; in this case, the two starter dishes we tried were the stars of the show.
The sea trout, which was almost sashimi-like in consistency, was paired with carrot and clementine to make it juicy and rich. Admittedly when I read it was being paired with clementine I was unsure, but look, I'm happy to have been wrong in this case. The fish and citrus pairing made for a light and fresh beginning to the meal.
The beef, onion, and truffle starter however - this wins the top prize for flavour. This combination has never tasted so good as when put together in this succulent short rib dish, and not to use an overused foodie description, but the meat absolutely fell apart in your mouth - in the best way.
The sea trout costs €15 while the short rib costs €14, and if you're deciding whether to order a few appetisers, or order a starter each, may I suggest the starters for their innovative flavour combinations.
Onto the mains - the halibut was beautifully cooked, with a hazelnut cream; again, not a flavour I'd be a massive fan of, particularly in a savoury dish, but one that massively elevated what would otherwise have been a plain enough combination. The nuttiness of the cream offset the saltiness of the fish, and paired with the broccoli, this came in close second place for my favourite dish of the evening.
The full main course dish on their menu will set you back €31, which is a middle of the road price compared to the other dishes on this section of the menu, but if you love fish it's a go-to.
The second main course, the chicken, leek, mushroom, and egg was tasty but in comparison to some of the other items on this new menu, it didn't quite live up to the standard when it came to innovative flavours.
For the full version of this dish it will cost you €25, the most inexpensive meat main course on the menu, and if you're someone who always orders the chicken you certainly won't be disappointed, but truthfully it was probably the least interesting part of the meal.
Below is the vegan blueberry cheesecake, which tasted as delicious as it looked adorned with pink flower petals. It was the perfect size, decadent without being sickly, and for once I was able to finish a whole dessert to myself without setting my spoon down midway through in defeat.
Whether you're vegan or not, we recommend ordering this.
The forest fruits pavlova, photographed below, does not appear on the regular menu, but was provided for us as an alternative to suit dietary requirements, and is available for diners to order upon request.
Much like the cheesecake, it was fruity and light, the perfect finisher on a beautiful meal, although of the two, I'm going to have to say my preference was the cheesecake, and that comes from someone who can normally take or leave cheesecake as a dessert.
Both desserts cost €10 each.
Something I always look for in a restaurant is if they are able to make adjustments based on dietary requirements. While I understand some places simply aren't built for this, it truly is a credit to a restaurant when they can respond to your needs in this way, and as someone who doesn't eat pork, dining with someone who is dairy free, we were not made to feel like a nuisance for needing things swapped out.
Not as many Dublin places cater for this as you would think, so Mapas gets huge points for being so accommodating, and I have no doubt as long as you contact them in advance with your dietary requirements, they will be more than able to assist you.
Hotel restaurants can be very hit or miss, even in the most luxurious of hotels, but Mapas lives up to its Killiney-based reputation. Even if you weren't staying at the hotel, the new autumn menu is one I would venture out to Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel to have again, particularly given the deal they have which is €40 for two courses or €50 for three (although the steak dishes do come with a significant supplement charge if chosen as part of the set menu).
The fish dishes were definitely the stand out - I've never tasted sea trout like that before and weeks later I am still dreaming about the jelly-like texture - and if the short rib dish was anything to go off, their other beef dishes are equally excellent.
Even the more typical dishes were enjoyable if not ground-breaking, so overall if you're looking to dine in the area, whether you're staying at the hotel or not, it's worth a trek out there.
You can check out the rest of their autumn menu here.
Mapas Restaurant is open from 5:30pm-9:30pm Monday - Sunday. For reservations please call us on 01 230 5400