Years ago, I ate my first “fancy” meal alone while vacationing in Cape Cod. I felt a bit awkward and self-conscious, though I did enjoy the food and the pretty view of the ocean.
Fast forward to the present. I’m older and wiser and have eaten many great meals. Eating alone no longer intimidates me, and that’s a good thing since there were no mental barriers when I decided to check out Chapter One on my recent trip to Dublin. My first great meal in Dublin killed all of my prior misconceptions about bland Irish food.
Chapter One sports an eclectic, locally sourced menu and a Michelin star. It’s tough to get a table, which was an issue since my trip was so last-minute. Dinners weren’t available, so I settled on a late lunch reservation for the Thursday of my trip. Based on the restaurant’s reputation, I knew that I was in for a good meal. However, I had no idea that it would be an amazing meal filled with surprising, sophisticated flavors.
Due to limited time, I taxied through the rainy Dublin streets and then descended the steps to the restaurant beneath the Dublin Writer’s Museum in the building that was previously owned by the Jameson whiskey family.
After ringing the bell, I was graciously welcomed into the spacious yet cosy restaurant with no awkwardness about being a solo diner. I was just in time to order the tasting menu and decided to go for it. The tasting menu offered me an opportunity to get a good sampling of Chef Ross Lewis‘ cuisine, and it seemed relatively reasonable at 45 Euros. The restaurant requires the entire table to do the tasting menu if the option is selected, but that was no issue for my table of one.
After choosing a glass of 2008 Fatalone Primitivo, a red wine with a good nose and an even better taste (organic and earthy with cherry and white pepper flavors), I dug into the house made bread. My table had a great view of the restaurant’s art, and I especially liked a stained glass piece that caught my eye.
Tasting Menu Lunch at Chapter One
I love soup and I love corn, so the first course was a perfect start to the meal. The sweet corn soup, featuring end-of-season sweet corn sourced from a farmer in North Dublin, was delicious in a way that made me want to lick the bowl. The dish was elevated by the parmesan ravioli made with 36 month aged cheese. The basil flavor was subtle yet prominent, which turned the simple soup into a complex dish.
Next up was a dish made with local beets and a beet juice. The feta mousse provided a pungent counterpoint with a creaminess that prevented the cheese from overwhelming the flavor of dish. I wanted to scrape the plate, though I refrained out of a sense of decorum.
I love a good terrine, so I was curious to try the next course. Served with a colorful array of garnishes, the terrine was visually appealing. The flavors of the garnishes melded well with the sophisticated yet homey slab of meat. Plus, I got to try greengage for the first time. It turns out that greengage is a type of plumb.
Unlike terrine, I don’t always love flaky, white fish. (I’m more of a tuna/salmon/arctic char fish eater.) So, I wasn’t as excited about the next course until it arrived. The plaice was beautifully plated atop beets, potatoes, celery, carrots and tiny mushrooms. I would have even liked this fish even without the sauce.
At this point, I was hitting a wall. The courses were each more than a taste, and I was feeling full. I figured that the food would start to slow down. But, no, next up was the biggest course yet. The course included lamb loin, braised lamb shoulder, sweetbreads and a roasted carrot served with carrot puree. The flavors were incredible, but I could only taste this course. Somehow, though, I found room for several bites of the delicious roasted potato puree with yummy crispies on top.
Dessert at Chapter One
The staff sensed that I was slowing down. After a nice break, the final course was served. Not surprisingly, the dessert featured local blackberries that were bursting with flavor. The custard was expertly made with gingerbread crumbs on the outside and pure creaminess on the inside, and the white chocolate was an unnecessary but delicious topper.
As I relaxed with a nice pot of tea, I got a chance to chat with manager Declan Maxwell. He had greeted me at the beginning of the meal, but, now that things were slowing down, he had time to spend a little more time with me. We talked about food, Ireland and blogging, and I completely enjoyed the interchange. I also enjoyed my final tastes of the meal – the tasty tidbits made by the restaurant’s talented pastry chef.
Two and half hours after my arrival, I finally left Chapter One. I was so satisfied from the meal that I didn’t mind that it was still raining. Though a nap or a hang at a pub would have been appropriate after-lunch activities, I had important shopping to do – a snow globe for my niece Olivia and a sweater for my fellow foodtripper/ husband Daryl.
Thomas Jefferson once said that honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. As for me, I can honestly say that my meal at Chapter One was delicious from beginning to end.
Chapter One is located at 18-19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, Ireland.
Check out Mindi’s other dining experiences in Dublin.
Check out our other Michelin dining experiences.