Food Report: Bentley’s Dublin – Autumn 2008, Spring 2009

In summer 2008, I went to Browne’s on St Stephen’s Green to book dinner for a special occasion, only to discover that it was closed and due to reopen shortly as Bentley’s under the stewardship of Richard Corrigan. While slightly inconvenienced at having to look a little further for a dinner venue, I was nonetheless very excited about the prospects of a Richard Corrigan restaurant in Dublin. Needless to say the place was jammed for a few months, so we put off trying to get a table until later in the year.

Our first visit was late in 2008. I’m ashamed to say that I can’t remember everything we had that evening, as wasn’t even a glint in my eye at that stage and correspondingly I forgot to keep the receipt. However, I do know when we arrived a few minutes early, we we brought upstairs to the club-like Aviator’s Lounge for a cocktail until our table became free. My Martini with oyster liquor was very tasty. Starters were a mixed plate of oysters and stuffed baby squid, both of which were excellent. Mains were fish pie and Dover sole. The fish pie came with a small bottle of green Tabasco, without which it tasted of nothing at all. However, with a few splashes of said sauce, it tasted good, but surely that should be taken care in the kitchen. The Dover sole was tasty but overdone: quite unforgivable at nearly €50. I can’t remember what wine we had, but overall we were satisfied enough to give the restaurant a second try.

Our second visit came at the end of March this year. This time there were thee of us. It was a Sunday evening, but the place was buzzing. Looking at the menu, I got the impression that prices had gone up by a euro or so for many dishes, but I couldn’t be 100% sure, as I no longer have the receipt from the previous visit. However, one thing is certain: several prices have gone up again in intervening period. This seems very strange at a time when other restaurants are dropping prices. I found it particularly hard to find any reasonably priced wine and ended up paying €18.00 for 250ml Albariño and €18.50 for 250ml Cahor, with €13.75 for another glass. These wines were nothing special, which makes the prices all the more scandalous.

Starters were 9 Carlingford Oysters at €15.50, Stuffed Baby Squid at €11.95 and Chicken Liver Parfait at €12.00. The squid was easily the best of these; the oysters were good; and the parfait was deemed ‘alright’. Mains were Bourride of Fish at €25.50, and Salmon Fishcakes twice at €16.75, as well as sides of chips and mixed greens at €4.90 each. The Bourride was very disappointing and not at all like a bourride. It was also very small for the price. The fishcakes had the opposite problem: there was too much. It would have been much better to serve just one each and add some chips or other side. On top of that they were dry, bland and had a suspiciously crunchy breadcrumb coating. For dessert we had the Tart of the Day and some cheese. The cheese was quite good. Finishing off with some tea at €3.50 a cup and espresso at €3.20, the bill came to €220.95, which already included a 12.5% service charge.

We felt ripped off and that the restaurant was living off the repuation of Richard Corrigan. The food was nothing special and for some dishes quite overpriced. Wine prices were extortionate. We had a follow-up issue that was not handled well and I may describe this in a future post.

We will not be back, which is a shame given the restaurant’s location and potential.