I spend a lot of time giving out about restaurants from the bygone Celtic Tiger era that were overpriced, had starched lines and boring, classical food. There was a time in Dublin, around 2007 when every menu seemed to feature a €30 fillet steak with mash, caramelised onions and a jus of some sort. Before the country went bust the capital was a pretty shitty place to eat out and it is only the recession that has brought about so much change by releasing creative foodie entrepreneurs from their shackles and restricting them with tiny start-up budgets. Some of Dublin's most popular spots like Crackbird, Bunsen and 3FE are recession babies and testament to the creative thinking that comes when times are tough.
While a burrito, cheeseburger or matcha latte are always welcome- that sort of food doesn't suit all occasions. There are times when you want something a little fancy. I'm talking about impressing an important client, a graduation or retiring after years of service. Sometimes we all like and need to push the boat out a little bit and spend way more than we can afford on a meal out. Brookwood is a classic steak house on Baggot Street that reminds me of a restaurant you'd find in London. It is sandwiched between the Dail and the high-end offices on Merrion Square, St Stephens Green and the Leeson Street area. Unlike the hipster areas like Drury Street or Talbot Street, the clientele here is more likely to be lawyers, ministers or the visiting IMF.
I started with a smoked salmon which was average at best and just felt like a couple of slices of fish, 2 bits of bread and a lemon. Just like something you'd fuck onto a plate yourself at home. My mate's Caesar salad did look whopper in fairness. I went all out on the main and had black sole on the bone. The fish was absolutely wonderfully cooked as well as being plump and meaty. This wouldn't have been a cheap piece of fish to buy and although it cost me the guts of 40 yo-yos I wasn't annoyed. I ordered sides of colcannon and steamed greens and the whole thing was perfection. I couldn't help but feel healthy and smug as I looked across the table at my mates burger which in fairness also look delicious.
The service was super attentive and polished. Everybody working here was a true professional from the moment you walk in the door, to the waiting staff right through to the chefs in the open kitchen. Staff this good, rent in a location this expensive and produce this fresh don't come cheap. This is a high end joint that you won't be eating in every week but it is worth the spend for a special treat. Nothing pisses me off more than paying for food when it is bad. It could be a €4 sandwich or a €10 takeaway that has been poorly done but shelling out that money annoys me more than anything. On the flip side- if something is top quality I'll pay whatever they think it is worth and do so happily. Brookwood falls into the expensive but absolutely worth every penny category. If you want a slightly cheaper version of it try out the Sunday roast lunch which is like heaven on earth. The Celtic Tiger isn't back (nor will it ever get that bad again) but we shouldn't forget about the joy of having a more expensive meal out that is top class.