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Jean-Georges at The Leinster review: A swanky new restaurant already filled with the D4 and south Co Dublin set

The classic dishes with vibrant southeast Asian influences at this new city centre eatery come at a price

Jean-Georges at The Leinster
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Address: 7 Mount Street Lower, Dublin 2, D02 WK33
Telephone: 01 233 6000
Cuisine: Modern International
Cost: €€€

You might wonder why a hotshot chef who most people in Ireland had never heard of until a few weeks ago is all of a sudden popping up on our shores, or popping in more like it. Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the Alsatian chef with a two-Michelin star flagship restaurant in New York and restaurants across the US, Mexico, Qatar, China, Japan, Singapore, Morocco and London, jetted in for 10 days to ensure that the mechanics of his latest shiny new restaurant were fine-tuned. This is how it works when you’ve got an empire to run, but there was no pretense that it would be otherwise.

The name over the door may well be his but it is Ross Bryans who heads up the kitchen, a Scottish chef who has had a notable trajectory in Michelin-starred restaurants – Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road (under Clare Smyth), Pollen Street Social, and Corrigan’s Mayfair, before moving to Paris to head up Les 110 De Taillevent for four years.

I’ve eaten in all of these restaurants (except Les 110), but have not been to Jean-Georges in New York, where Vongerichten is renowned for his innate ability to weave southeast Asian influences into classic French dishes. It was groundbreaking when it opened in 1997, quickly landing a New York Times four-star rating (the top accolade) from restaurant critic Ruth Reichl, and this is the magic we are promised in the rooftop restaurant in The Leinster, a new hotel in Dublin 2.

A shiny brass lift transports us upstairs and the fresh paint vapours are still lingering as we head into the restaurant, which has been open a week.

The appetisers read like the sort of lunch dishes you might get in a spa – market beets with avocado purée, shaved broccoli and kale salad with a soft-boiled egg, and warm shrimp salad with avocado and tomato. I go for the shrimp salad (€17).

I am quite surprised by how taken I am with the salad. It feels incredibly New York, a plate of tossed green leaves with slices of avocado and a concassé of tomatoes that have been painstakingly peeled. But the star is a buttery sauce that has been spooned over five plump shrimps. It makes everything work. For our other starter, five crisp baby artichokes (€15) are golden and nutty, served with an assertive rose saffron aioli.

We have selected an Eschenhof Holzer Zweigelt (€55) from a wine list that really needs to add some bottles at the more accessible end of things. It is just a short list when I visit, a more extensive list is on the way, but I wouldn’t hold out for a slew of affordable options.

Encrusting vegetables, fish and meat in crunchy bits seems to be a theme of Vongerichten’s. A whole roasted cauliflower with a golden halo of turmeric, tahini, date molasses and pistachio lands at the table beside us; organic chicken is encrusted in Parmesan, and my main course, wild turbot, comes crusted with nuts and seeds (€38). It sits on top of halved cherry tomatoes and thin slices of potato in a “sweet and sour jus”. The jus, a beurre blanc with an Asian inflection, is rich and delicious; skilfully balanced with an assured splash of acidity.

The charred marinated duck breast (€40), is rare and nicely cooked with skin that has been rendered to a crisp. Caraflex cabbage has been braised and served alongside the duck in a vibrant terracotta sauce, the heat from the sriracha tempered with coconut, Thai basil and a cut of lime.

The desserts are fairly simple. A rhubarb trifle (€12) is layered up in a glass with lychee gelée, cream, biscuit crumble and a little sorbet, and the meringue-shaped pavlova (€12) is not great, it’s too soft in the middle and lacks the marshmallow texture you expect. However, the blood orange sorbet accompanying it is very good.

International names over doors – Gordon Ramsay, Jean-Cristophe Novelli, Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White – have never quite been our thing in Ireland, with some working better than others. At Jean-Georges, which you could describe as a posh chain within the Press-Up managed chain, prices come in a tad higher than the small independent restaurants around town (Uno Mas, Kicky’s, Allta, Library Street and La Gordita), so there’s a bit of a premium for that expensive fit-out. But it is an accessible menu, the food is tasty, and already the room is filled with the Dublin 4 and south county Dublin set.

Dinner for two with a bottle of wine was €189.

The Verdict: Classic dishes with vibrant southeast Asian influences

Music: Jazz, very much in the background

Food provenance: Glenmar, Nick’s Fish, John Stone, Iona Farm, Dave Molloy meat, La Rousse, Keelings and Silverhill duck.

Vegetarian options: Whole roasted cauliflower, sweet pea soup, and mushroom walnut Bolognese, all vegan.

Wheelchair access: Fully accessible with accessible toilet.

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