*I was a guest for dinner, usual disclaimers apply i.e. feeding me doesn’t mean a good review, that you earn all by yourself*
Marcels used to sit on St. Marys’s Road in Ballsbridge. It’s reincarnation in the more central location of Merrion Row has made it all the more accessible to many. It’s a restaurant, bistro and bar all in one. I found myself sitting there on a Thursday evening in March. The surrounds are stylish and comfortable and they had some great background music playing too. A Monkey 47 gin and tonic kicked off the evening while we perused the menu.
Starters were varied and price points ranged from €12-€15. He went with the foie gras, chicken liver parfait, apple jelly and walnut topped with diced apple. It was accompanied by brown bread and presentation wise it was stunning. Foie gras is one dish which never appeals to me. My guest however is a big fan. He marvelled at the size of the portion and confirmed it was excellent. I’ll be taking his word for it.
Lately I’ve been trying to eat more seafood when dining out so I went with scallops. Four individual scallops presented on shells with celeriac, seaweed butter, smoked almonds and lardo. The scallops were sweet and delicate with a silky texture. A pleasure to eat. I did share one with himself who was eyeing them up across the table.
Mains in Marcels are a little more on the expensive side. They range from €20 for gnocchi to €32 for a striploin. I went with the halibut which was served with celeriac, Morteaux sausage, smoked almonds, kale and chicken jus. I have to say I was a big fan of this dish. The fish was chunky, full of flavour and cooked perfectly. The kale kept some crispness to it and the Morteaux sausage brought a welcome smokiness to the dish. Portion sizes overall are very ample in Marcels, my fish included.
He went for the dry aged striploin with ox cheek, white onion, watercress and Béarnaise sauce. Much to my dismay he ordered it blue which was far too rare for my liking. That’s one way to avoid sharing your food I suppose. Watercress for many people has a bit of an 80’s feel to it, but I’m seeing it popping up a lot lately on menus. It is packed with nutrients and gives a very subtle peppery flavour. Of course it also looks quite pretty on the plate! He devoured the striploin anyway and declared it a triumph. Like his starter, I’ll have to with his word on this.
We added a couple of sides to our mains which were roasted carrots and a rocket and parmesan salad. Both delicious but in particular I was struck by the simplicity and great taste of the salad combination. Certainly one I’ll be replicating at home. Sides are €3.50 and other options include fires, baby gem with honey and mustard and tender stem broccoli with smoked almonds.
Now on to desserts. They were exceptional. Mine was called honey and lemon (€8) and looked spectacular. A fennel and honey ice cream with lemon curd, white chocolate and clementine. It also had the most enjoyable baked sourdough crumb which contrasted perfectly with the smoothness of the ice cream. As you can see from the pictures, presentation wise they are a big success.
The second dessert was chocolate buttermilk ganache, hazelnut aero, milk sorbet and meringue (€8). This one is a chocolate lovers dream from start to finish. We opted to share each dessert because they were both so bloody good.
So overall thoughts on Marcels are very positive. The location is great. The surrounds are comfortable. The staff and service were excellent and the traditional old feel bar part is perfect for a before and after dinner drink. It is a bit more on the pricey side but you are paying for good quality ingredients, cooked well in a classy environment. It’s hard to argue with that.