Like many people I’ve a bit of a love hate relationship with hotel restaurants. Often categorised as just a convenient option with little or no expectation of culinary wonder. With a new breed of funky, drink and dine destination hotels popping up around Dublin the view of the hotel restaurant has been revitalised. They cater to more than just staying guests now. The hotel restaurant and bar is now a go to place for drinks, dinner and good music, often with a live DJ catering to the clientele.
I took a visit to East Restaurant at The Spencer Hotel recently and I was pleasantly surprised. It was a sunny Saturday evening and the city was busy. Fleetwood Mac were playing the 3Arena so there was a great buzz along the docks by the IFSC. I arrived just as a glut of dining Fleetwood Mac’ers were vacating. The surrounds are sumptuous. Its chic and stylish and a far cry from the Clarion before it. The welcome was warm from Paul the manager and we were promptly seated in a spacious booth and given menus, cocktail ones of course!
It was refreshing to see a hotel cocktail list which didn’t start at €14 and work its way upwards. Cocktails start at €10 and end at €10.95 for your usual Martini, Manhattan, Mai Thai and Margaritas, along with many more. If you want a champagne cocktail they start and end at €15. I kicked off with a Teaberry Cooler. There is an actual Ronnefeldt red berries teabag in it, along with Absolut vanilla, cherry and honey and topped with fresh raspberries. A perfect Summer cocktail and I think the picture below speaks for itself.
My date for the evening went for the Cucumber & Wasabi Martini which paired cucumber infused Absolut vodka with cucumber syrup, fresh lime juice and wasabi. Delicate and refreshing with a slight kick compliments of the wasabi.
Now on to the food. Its Pan Asian in nature with Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan all making an appearance on the menu. Its cook to order so they welcome any specific requests or variations you may ask for. Starters range from €7.95 to €10.50 for the tempura monkfish which is what I went for. Anytime I cook Monkfish I overdo it and it chews like gum. East managed to do a much better job and it was light and tasty and a very decent sized portion too. It was served with a Teriyaki Soy sauce; on the sweet side which was totally fine, but I think I’d prefer a more spicy one to go with the monkfish. An option to choose the sauce might be a nice touch here.
The second starter was a steamed prawn dumpling and came recommended by our waiter Marius. My monkfish was good, but the dumpling were something a little special I have to say. The wonton pastry was silky smooth and the flavours were spot on. It was served with soy sauce, wasabi and fresh ginger. They were two great starters for sharing which is exactly what we did.
The mains range from €12.95 to €22.95. My date went with the crying tiger, which was stir fried prawns with coconut, galangal (part of the ginger family), Asian vegetables, fresh chillies and Thai herbs. The dish you can have with a choice of steamed rice, fried rice, noodles or stir fried vegetables. She opted for fried rice, but in hindsight I think this would pair much better with noodles. She has a limited diet in terms of meats she can eat so this was the perfect choice for her and the prawns were plentiful and succulent.
I went for stir fried beef with basil and garlic and soya sauce. The beef was tender and the sauce rich and despite being a good portion size, I managed to eat it all. I opted for fried rice also with mine, but I think on my next visit I would go for one portion of fried rice and one portion of noodles so I can mix and match.
Dessert was a struggle after our starters and main so we decided to share a trio of desserts between us. Even with two of us eating them, it was difficult to finish and they were perfect.
The only thing left to do, apart from slip into a food coma was have one more cocktail for the road. Espresso martinis I’m not a fan of them, but my lady friend assured me it was spot on. I opted for a martini and sipped it slowly while stretching back on my seat.
My visit to East was very enjoyable from start to finish. The service was impeccable, the food was tasty and the music was great. Fed and watered we left East that night with a promise to return for an after work drink. Apparently Thursday and Friday evenings there DJ keeps the crowd around the IFSC/Docks well entertained. Cocktails in The Spencer feels very Summer in the City and I will be back.
The Spencer, Excise Walk, IFSC, Dublin 1, Ph: 353 1 433 88 00