The Seasons of my mind

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

bring you!

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]

Conor O'Neill

Tech guy who likes running slowly

Bandon, Cork, Ireland