Salon Des Saveurs is Conrad Gallagher’s new restaurant on Dublin’s Aungier St, that has something of a novel concept (at least for Dublin) behind it. It offers a range of ‘tasting menus’, which change every month and cost from €29 up to €79, and which allow you to sample a really rich selection of dishes.
I was invited to a food bloggers event there during the last week in November. Yes, the last week in November – the same week that the IMF came in and the economy crumbled around our ears. It felt extremely Marie Antoinettish to be going to eat delicate helpings of foie gras and whatnot, and Conrad Gallagher is well known as one of the poster boys for ‘Celtic Tiger’ excess. However, I thought I could justify it in the spirit of inquiry – just because a place is superfancy, it doesn’t necessarily follow that its bad value. And of course, as we all know, good food and good company is one of the great pleasures in life, and after the event in Salon Des Saveurs I felt my spirits lift more than they had all week.
Salon Des Saveurs is definitely not a place for the picky eater or the food-intolerant: the entire table must order the same tasting menu. No problem for the lovely group of extreme foodies that were present when I was there, but I would recommend not bringing that pesky friend who won’t try anything new.
We were served a special menu for the evening:
Parsnip and Vanilla Soup – Langoustine
Oxtail & Foie Gras – Apricot, Grape, Fried Baby Spinach, Hazelnut Aioli
Risotto of Asparagus – Confit of Duck and Arbafura Broth
Daube of Beef – Celeriac Mousseline, Salsfy Chips, Pearl Onions, Butternut, Parsley Hollandaise
Tasting of Desserts – Chocolate Brulee, Lemon Ice-Cream, Strawberry and Rhubard Crumble, Ice Lemon Soufflé, Spiced Lemon Cake
Tragically, I had to leave to get back for my babysitter before the dessert, but everything up to that point was wonderful. Beautifully presented, with top-quality ingredients and magically new and fascinating flavour combinations. The Asparagus Risotto with Duck Confit was spectacular and I intend to try a homemade version of it soon. The portions were also extremely ample for a tasting menu; the Daube of Beef, in particular, was not far off a main course size and its richness left me stuffed silly. This is not cheap food, but if what we got is representative of what you get on the €29 menu, for example, it’s absolutely fantastic value indeed.
You can also opt to get wines paired with each course, neatly doubling the price of the menu. Depending on how wine-literate you are, this may be worth the investment; or bottles start at €29.
I will go back again some time as a regular paying customer to see how the service, food and portion sizes hold up. It’s hard to imagine it becoming a regular haunt for us, or for any other normal people at the moment. But our friends and readers are still asking us about where to go for their one fancy Christmas meal, so I get the impression many people still want to eat out – they just want it to be very special this year. For those of you who can still afford a rare treat, this place is definitely worth checking out.