Mon 2nd Jun 2014
Dublin’s Merrion Hotel manages to do something that seems impossible: make a sprawling 5-star luxury hotel feel intimate and warm. Part of the small-and-personal vibe is due to the layout. The hotel’s main floor is divided into many rooms, cozy warrens that feel more like an old home than a cold, sprawling building.
That’s partly due to the fact that the main house of the Merrion used to be a home—four of them, in fact. The Georgian townhouses were built in the 1760s for wealthy Irish businessmen and nobility.
The Merrion’s ability to be both sophisticated and comforting is in evidence everywhere, but perhaps is best embodied at the breakfast table. The Cellar Restaurant, under the guidance of Executive Chef Ed Cooney, serves gourmet-quality breakfast fare in the morning, but with a focus on fresh, Irish ingredients that evoke the country farms where the ingredients were sourced.
For the newcomer to Irish cuisine, the Full Irish Breakfast is a must-try. What’s the difference between a Full Irish Breakfast and a Full English Breakfast? That’s the exact question I posed to Maurice Keller, Ambassador Chef for Good Food Ireland. He jokingly answered “location.” The location, though, really makes a difference in a restaurant devoted to using locally-sourced ingredients.
The Merrion’s Full Irish (also known colloquially as an “Ulster Fry”) consists of Irish bacon, black pudding, white pudding, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, and two perfectly-poached farm-fresh eggs. (Notice the absence of baked beans, a decidedly English convention—that’s another difference.) Silver pots of hot Irish tea (the Merrion's own blend) keep the meal traditional, though there's plenty of coffee if you choose.
If you’re not in the mood for such a heavy breakfast, you can try some Irish Smoked Salmon with the freshest, fluffiest scrambled eggs you’ve likely ever had. Or, have some grilled kippers with lemon butter. Those who want something even lighter can breakfast on fresh fruit, local yogurt, and the Merrion’s own muesli.
Lots of places serve a full Irish, but not many do it with such finesse, and with all-local ingredients. (No wonder the Merrion is a certified Good Food Ireland provider.) It’s one of the best breakfasts in Dublin, and possibly also the world.