Thornton’s Restaurant, just off St. Stephen’s Green in The Fitzwilliam Hotel in Dublin, is one of my favorite dining experiences I’ve had in a very long time. Some come to Ireland not expecting exciting cuisine. But, what a misconception. The island is dotted with interesting, relevant and noteworthy dining experiences that can hold their own among the world’s best. Thornton’s is at the top of that list.
Chef and proprietor, Kevin Thornton, the food curator, invites you into his elegant lair to experience comfortably experimental cuisine with Irish and international influences. Sitting at the table, staring-out at St. Stephen’s Green, you can’t help but be taken by the moment. Friendly staff welcome you into their family for the evening – wanting nothing more than to provide you with the very best service and food possible. They succeed effortlessly.
Chef Thornton designed an individual and seasonal tasting menu for me to experience. Throughout ten courses, he guided me through incredibly delicious and well-thought-out cuisine. I started with beef carpaccio with dried horse radish and sheep cheese yogurt. My second course was Red Mullet fish, shallot puree and asparagus. The third course was a scallop carpaccio with beet puree and apple drops served on a marble slab. What could come next after all of this? Roasted scallops with sea urchin, sea urchin sauce, caviar and salmon roe. My fifth course was geared toward more hearty offerings featuring lamb with carrot pure, broad beans, wild garlic sauce and lamb belly served in a “garden” of Irish moss and greens.
One of my favorite courses of the evening was a beautiful pigeon stuffed with hay, presented on hay with a group of speckled eggs. The pigeon had been smoked with 10,000 year-old Bog Oak and was labeled “from life to death”. It was Chef Thornton’s coy and metaphorical way of showing how the bird’s life started and how it ended. The message was surprisingly beautiful and, to me, was a way to honor the life that was taken for the meal in front of me. Truly special.
Towards the end, I sampled truffled scrambled duck eggs served inside the pristinely white duck egg itself. The chef also sampled Cashel blue cheese which was made on his father’s farm, presented with apple, quince and walnuts. I was continuously mesmerized by each offering brought to my table. I could feel the love in the food and literally saw the innate respect and understanding of the food, its seasonal power and homage to the bounty of Ireland. I ended my meal with a freshly steeped pot of mint tea and left satisfied. To all the foodies who are looking for something truly different and intimate, as well as flavor that will knock your socks off, Thornton’s is it.