We didn’t have a “formal” family holiday in 2005 - a week in Rosslare
with the extended family was it for us. As year-end approached,
weariness grew. So we threw caution to the wind, threw the children to
their granny and headed down from Cavan to Capital City for some
pampering and unashamed luxury.
Stop reading now if you are offended by the profligate spending by people
of their own money when there are still starving babbies in Biafra
who don’t have a hand knitted scarf yet.
Yes, we stayed and had dinner at the Four Seasons in Ballsbridge. I’d
been there once before for a business meeting (Pot of Tea for 3 = €17
if memory serves) and my main recollections were that it was a
butt-ugly building with tons of money spent on fittings and furnishings
to make up for the fact that it looks like an office block. They also
seemed to have an enormous number of staff who didn’t appear to do much
apart from smile and say hello.
This time we arrived up in the filthy Zafira and decided not to go for
valet parking beside the Bentleys. To be fair, they did park some
people-carriers (mini-vans/MPVs for my US readers) beside the Porsche
Cayennes. Hard to tell which were more ugly. The Porsche Cayenne - the
SUV for rich people who spell Classy with a K.
Very friendly staff everywhere and if they had any direct dealings with
you, they always knew your name. Actually I found that a bit spooky. No
nose-picking in the lounge or farting in the pool for me then.
A short pause for a moment. To save the numb fingers on my left hand
from RSI, please automatically insert the phrase “as well it should at
this price” after every sentence from now on.
The room was lovely but not the gold-leaf toilet-paper experience I
thought it might be. Rose petals scattered around the place and a nice
bottle of fizz welcomed us in. Excellent bed and I loved the bathroom
with the all-glass shower. The balcony was cool but the weather meant
it was ununsed.
I had expected the place to be filled with emaciated super-models and
their sugar-daddies with maybe a pack of surgically enhanced peroxided
ladies-who-lunch hunting in the lounge for prey. But actually it mainly
seemed to be perfectly normal looking families with screaming children
which I really liked. They gave the place a comfortable feel which is
missing on first look because of all the Donald Trump style opulence.
Catherine raved about the pool, jacuzzi and whole “health centre” bit.
I couldn’t even tell you what floor it was on.
We ate there that night and it was an interesting mix of experiences.
Georgina Campbell’s guide damned it with faint praise but supposedly
Gerry Ryan is always raving about it. Hmm, now who’s judgement would I
trust more? The meal started really badly. A nice greeter person
brought us to our table in the very large almost empty restaurant. And
where did she put us? Beside a table of 15 people including 4 children!
Ahhh, romantic. Dozey bint, surely this is “seating 101” in Maitre d’
school? So we asked to be moved. The poor waiter dropped a very funny
clunker when he whispers “nah, I don’t like children either”. We
replied that we actually had 4 children but we just didn’t want to have
to listen to kids bickering tonight. Poor lad was very embarrased.
The food was really really excellent. A pleasant surprise for me as I
wasn’t expecting much. Started with three little amuse bouches which
were all simple but bursting with flavour. Starters were fois gras for
Catherine and for me, a likkle wikkle partridge. Fantastic wee bird.
There was a small white thing on the edge of the plate. Was it what I
thought it was? Ok, now that’s funny. A moulded piece of pear. And
before you post a comment about the fois gras, stop, find something
interesting to say about something important (e.g. Darfur) and post it
on another blog instead.
Mains were a very nice steak for me but I can’t bloody remember the
details. Three weeks later and I’m blank and neither of us can remember
what Catherine had. Desserts were the first ever restaurant souffle for
me and presumably something chocolate for Catherine. The souffle was a
fabulous fruity thing. A nice bottle of some Italian white (no idea
what it was) rounded it all off. I remember the food being superb but
there is something amiss when I cannot remember the details of what the
main courses were. I still remember what I had in Otto’s months ago.
Top class food but actually the pricing is totally out of whack. It was
a great meal (one of the best for us in 2005) but it was the most
expensive meal we have ever eaten. For similar money, you could fly to
Cork, get a taxi to Otto’s Creative Catering, get the best meal you’ll
eat all year, stay there overnight and fly back. Or repeat the exercise
to the Tannery in Dungarvan. Yeah I know it is D4 and I know it is The
Four Seasons but it simply does not add up. Just pick one of at least
ten better places to eat in Dublin for a lot less and get a limo to
Just at the end of the meal Catherine nudged me and said “that’s that
guy from ‘The Restaurant’“. For those of you outside Ireland, “The
Restaurant” is a TV programme where allegedly famous people act as head
chef for a night and reviewers give them scores. A likable programme
and the Maitre d’ is a complete scream. Totally over the top camp. And
that was him doing the formal table schmooze in The Four Seasons. He
arrived at our table, asked how everything was and then moved on. We
were disappointed he was so subdued but I guess there is a time and
place for everything.
The following night we ate in O’Connells in Bewleys Hotel across the
road. Really simple, excellent food with top quality ingredients. Great
charcuterie platter to start (let me guess, Gubbeen, right?) and
fantastic roast pork loin for main. Remembered that, didn’t I? Three
people, two courses each and a bottle of wine. €85! Is there any better
value in Dublin? Highly recommended. I’d also recommend the hotel at
€99 per family room. The building both inside and outside is fabulous.
A “discount” hotel outclassing the high-end hotel next door. Genius!
But screw it, for a bit of pure pampering, as a one-off never to be
repeated treat, go spend a night or two at the Four Seasons. It’ll cost
ya a bomb but probably less than flying to Majorca on a crappy plane,
staying in a hell hole, eating rubbish, getting sloshed for a fortnight
and getting treatment for skin cancer.
Massive thanks to Granny Mary for minding the childer for our little
post-christmas escape. Hell, I wouldn’t offer to mind our kids if they
weren’t mine .
[tags]Four Seasons, Ballsbridge, O’Connells, Bewleys, The Restaurant, RTE, The Tannery[/tags]