Aside from one very notable exception, Dublin 1 isn’t exactly a thriving fine dining destination. The Hot Stove Restaurant aims to buck that trend offering another bastion of civilised dining on Parnell Square, this time on the Georgian square’s west side.
A cosy basement affair beneath two townhouses, The Hot Stove is a smart and welcoming restaurant boasting two bright dining rooms, a lovely bar and impressive outdoor courtyard where lunch tables will be hotly contested in fine weather.
Traditional tiling, exposed brickwork, elegant toffee-coloured seats and the eponymous stove create a tasteful and comfortable space that’s as conducive to a business lunch as a group celebration or romantic date. (If we could change one thing, it would be the cold, office-like light bulbs that are a little too corporate for our liking; candles work hard to offset their pallor at night, but it’s an uphill struggle.)
Ex-Four Seasons sommelier Simon Keegan and chef Joy Beattie make an impressive team and their take on modern Irish hospitality is both refreshing and welcome. They’ve put together a short but crowd-pleasing menu that’s remarkably good value.
And the vegetarian dishes – perhaps the picture-perfect beetroot and butternut squash tasting with honey mascarpone and sorrel – have been conceived with exceptional imagination and flair.
Mains might comprise roast pork fillet and belly, with immaculate crackling, feisty choucroute, pickled apple puree and boulangère potatoes, or a pristine piece of ray off the bone with beautiful red chard, brown butter, crispy capers and lime mash.
Desserts, like a wonderfully moist walnut cake, or warm pear parcel with salted caramel and cinnamon ice cream demonstrate the imaginative approach to cooking. Every dish looks superb and delivers on flavour although The Guide would love to see the provenance of such good ingredients listed on the menu.
Simon’s wine list reflects his expertise and passion, yet there’s plenty of choice for the budget-conscious. The wine list is notably devoid of tasting notes, so diners are encouraged to chat to Simon and take advantage of his encyclopaedic knowledge.
Service is well paced, friendly and attentive, with some waiting staff more confident and knowledgeable than others. Close to The Gate, this is set to become a hot spot for savvy pre-theatregoers, and as news gets out about the quality and value we expect this to be destination restaurant another for Parnell Square - we just hope they may decide to open on Mondays, when food-loving theatre fans have nowhere to go...