From their humble beginnings in a basement on Fitzwilliam Street, Derry and Sally-Anne Clarke have created a real shining star in the culinary lexicon of Irish restaurants. It was probably always inevitable that Derry would end up on the Irish food map. His father owned John Clarke and Son on Wellington quay, Dublin, and was one of first Irish importers of caviar and other gourmet foodstuffs.
l'Ecrivain is a timelessly stylish restaurant with a comfortable bar, private dining room and a charming covered roof terrace. The layout at the Baggot Street eaterie incorporates a large kitchen, two private dining areas, entrance way and re-designed seating. The Baby Grand piano, which has been the focus of many a celebrity sing-along over the years, is located in the main dining area upstairs and we are sure that this will be home to many a soirée for years to come.
Derry and his team use well-sourced local ingredients to create simple, delicious dishes with a definite French influence. It is no wonder that it has received so many awards over the years including a coveted Michelin Star.
Ushered to the first floor dining room, we are seated among a buzzing room of contented Friday afternoon diners, many who seem determinedly averse to returning to work! In such a convivial setting, who could blame them?
Having been presented with a delicate Amuse-Bouche of Celeriac, Wild Mushroom and Truffle Velouté, we begin with a stunning, Tender Boned and Rolled Quail, served with Beetroot Purée and crispy, buttery Savoy cabbage and Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Purée, Crubeen and Pickled Mushrooms. This is followed by an equally wonderful piece of Castletownbere Cod, cooked just to the point and perfectly complemented by an intense Parsley Purée, Salsify and Roasted Pearl Onions and Breast of Pheasant with Parsnip, Cured Bacon and Blackberry Beetroot Dressing. Afterwards, a new take on banana split is quite astounding. Slices of barely roasted banana sit beside caramelised filo crisps, banana semi-freddo and an incredible banana pudding. And the Vanilla Pannacotta with Poached Rhubarb and Strawberry Sherbet - simply delicious! Hand-made Petit fours finish a spectacular meal. No matter the menu presented, diners will be provided with a remarkable dining experience.
Service at l'Ecrivain is smart, warm and well informed. Head Sommelier Maxime Pougeolle, is on hand to offer recommendations on wine pairings. The wine list offers an insight into his serious passion and knowledge. There are some real gems here, in every price range and for any taste. For really special Irish food in elegant surroundings on any occasion, this has got to be on the list!
Derry really has his finger on the pulse when it comes to value at l'Ecrivain and he always offers some very appealing menus to both the pallet and pocket. With set menus at lunch and dinner, and a superb Tasting Menu, all very well priced, there is something here for everyone from on of Ireland's most celebrated and hard working Michelin starred chefs.