Chapter One opened in February 1992, its executive chef Ross Lewis having worked in various restaurants in London and Switzerland before returning to Ireland in 1990. The restaurant is situated in the basement of the Dublin Writers Museum, and was awarded a Michelin star in 2007. The dining room can seat 80 people at capacity, with fifteen chefs working in the kitchen to cook for them. The dining room has a dark green carpet, charcoal grey upholstery and some modern art on the walls; tables are a decent size and reasonably spaced.
The extensive wine list has choices such as Max Ferdinand Richter Zeppelin Riesling 2011 at €34 for a wine that retails at around €11, Trimbach Cuvée Frederich Emile 1997 at €65 for a wine that you can find in the high street for €49, and Torres Mas la Plana 2007 at €100 for a wine that will set you back €39 in a shop. There were some relative bargains at the posh end of the list, with Penfolds Grange 1998 at €450 slightly below its current retail price. Some other markups at the smart end of the list were less kindly, with Antinori Solaia 2003 at €320 for a wine that you can find in a shop for €146. There were around 300 wines listed but the list rotates regularly, with the restaurant having over 700 different wines in its cellars. Bread was made from scratch and comprised brown rye, warm and delicate brioche and a decent sourdough (16/20).
Amuse-bouche was a raw tomato jelly, which had plenty of tomato flavour, with salted cherries, cherry mousse, cherry tomatoes, coriander and an onion crisp. The jelly had very good texture, and the flavor balance worked well (16/20). Lobster salad was served with green beans, fennel dressing, mint, salted peaches and fennel puree. The lobster had been pan-fried and was tender, the salted peaches an interesting contrast to the shellfish and the green beans, and the mint flavour was suitably restrained (16/20). Crab salad was served with clam juice, dill, cucumber jelly and seaweed in three styles: as “spaghetti, lettuce and dolce”. The cucumber had good flavor and the crab was fresh, but the seaweed flavour seemed to me too dominant for the delicate crab (14/20).
Next was tapioca with sheep cheese and broad beans, on a pea purée and garnished with Japanese black garlic. The pea puree had smooth texture and plenty of pea flavour, and the garnish was a nice idea, though tapioca has a very particular texture that will not be to everyone’s taste (15/20). I am curious as to whether this might work even better with a different grain?
John Dory was cooked over charcoal with Japanese spices, served with razor clams and basil and courgette puree, and deep fried courgette flower. The fish was cooked well and the razor clams were reasonably tender, but the courgette flower was a little on the soggy side, and I felt the dish could have had a little more seasoning (15/20). I enjoyed my rabbit loin wrapped in pancetta, with braised neck of rabbit on the side, rabbit liver parfait, the liver itself and a ball of deep-fried mash potato and Parmesan. Rabbit is a tricky meat to cook well as it dried out easily, but here it was exemplary, the rabbit moist and the liver carefully cooked (17/20).
Cheesecake of buffalo ricotta was served with yoghurt foam, lemon curd, strawberries and dehydrated lemonade on a base of oat biscuits. This modern take on the humble cheesecake worked nicely, the oat biscuit base good and the lemon curd providing just enough acidity (16/20). Cherry parfait was attractively presented, some cherries stuffed with white chocolate resting in a cherry coulis; the cherries were in season and had good flavour (16/20).
Coffee was served with some unusually fine petit fours: lemon macaroons were lovely, as were delicate raspberry macaroons with chocolate, and an excellent passion fruit chocolate (17/20). Service was accomplished and friendly; we had a tight time constraint, and the manager carefully timed the dishes to ensure that we were out on time. Our bill for lunch, with no alcohol, was a very fair €43 (£34) each, of which the food was €36.50. At dinner a full tasting menu was priced at €80 (£63).