While some people are uncomfortable dining alone, in my line of work I tend to dine out alone quite often, so I've become accustomed to it and actually look forward to it from time to time. During a recent visit to Dublin, I went for lunch at The Grayson, a restaurant I'd heard a great deal about, so I couldn't wait to enjoy some fab food, while having a bit of down time.
Grayson’s motto is for 'every guest to leave feeling better than they did before they entered,' and my experience certainly didn’t disappoint.
The restaurant is located in a previously residential townhouse opposite St Stephen’s Green. Built in 1745 as a home for Mrs Ruth Croker, it is said that she hosted many fabulous parties for Dublin’s eminent figures and it's evident that the staff hope to continue that very ethos.
The building itself is extraordinary and the designer has managed to highlight its original features and protect its structure while creating a fresh, bright and comfortable atmosphere. Upon arrival, the first thing you notice is the facade, covered in luscious ivy that runs the height of the building, giving a contemporary chic feel to the place. Through the Georgian entryway, guests are greeted by an exquisitely carved staircase that winds its way up to the two stories above.
Arriving at the ground floor reception, I headed to the back of the building to check out the Atrium, a bright, warm and welcoming area where I perched at the bar and enjoyed a chilled glass of champagne as I perused the menu.
Marble is the standout feature on the ground floor, even extending into the lovely bathrooms, with four varieties sourced from Portugal and Italy, all having subtle differences in colour and pattern. Art brightens the walls across the entire building, with pieces from artists Phillip Allen, Mark Francis, David Godbold, Callum Innes as well as Swiss artist Liliane Tomasko.
When I was ready for my lunch, I ventured to the upstairs dining room. The hallway is quite grand with the original decorative ceiling high above, and the wall panelling and gold detailing that decorates the staircase is all intact.
The dining room was impeccable, with big sash windows overlooking Ireland’s arguably most famous park. High ceilings, parquet wooden floors, fireplaces, and elegant small bars shape all the rooms.
Food in the Grayson is the brainchild of Head Chef Jacson Reboli, who has been putting together a diverse menu that is centred on fresh ingredients that are bursting with colour and flavour. The menu is contemporary and modern Irish cuisine, and is an assortment of salads, meats and seafood.
I had the Parmesan Chicken Salad, which is a combination of chicken breast, baby gem, roasted peppers, Nduja aioli topped with Parmesan cheese, all washed down with chilled champagne.
Hospitality is the name of the game at The Grayson, and in my opinion they've nailed it! The food was delicious, the service was impeccable and the location, the interiors, and the atmosphere were all wonderful, making for a delightful afternoon.
With only 48 hours to spend in Stratford upon Avon, we wanted to ensure we made the most of our time there. When we asked our friends for dinner recommendations, Loxleys was at the top of everyone’s lists as the 'must visit' restaurant in the area. Having come so strongly recommended, we couldn't wait to dine there.
Given its popularity, it's advised to book in advance, so we booked in for an early dinner.
There’s a very elegant little wine bar by the entrance, for those who want to enjoy a drink before their meal, however as we were famished, we asked to be taken straight to our table. The restaurant is spread over two floors, and we were seated on the ground floor, towards the back of the restaurant. Exposed brickwork throughout creates a very relaxed atmosphere.
During our visit on a Friday night, the place was pretty packed, however, the waiting staff were still attentive, without being intrusive.
Loxleys is a family-run restaurant with a mission “to offer customers a fresh, locally produced product with excellent service.”
The varied seasonal menu caters for all tastes and features an excellent selection of fish and grill specials, salads, classic dishes and small plates. To kick things off, we ordered a couple of small plates to graze on while we pondered our options for the starters and mains: the Nocellara del Belice olives, which come with smoked almonds, and the red pepper hummus, which was accompanied by a selection of crudités.
Given the menu had so many excellent options to choose from, we had the staff help us select our starters and mains.
The restaurant serves modern British dishes with a focus on classic flavour combinations. Head chef, Paul McCoombes’ aim is to cook simple food brilliantly with its own Loxleys' ‘twist’ that is impossible to find in any other restaurant in the area.
For starters we decided to go local and opted for the Cotswold Gin Cured Chalk Stream Trout with Horseradish Crème Fraiche and Pickles served with rye bread; and the whipped Black Pepper Goats Cheese with Butternut Squash, Filo Pastry, Pickled Beetroot, Vanilla Honey, Old Winchester and Walnut Crisp. The starters were well-sized portions and were bursting with an array of flavours.
For the mains we opted for a Loxley’s classic, the Super 12 Salad, which consists of quinoa, cape gooseberry’s, beetroot, pomegranate, red cabbage, edamame beans, bean sprouts, chickpeas, spinach, conﬁt garlic, chia seeds & tahini dressing with a side of grilled chicken. My dining partner chose the Thyme Roasted Chicken Supreme with soft herb giant couscous, glazed carrots, and celeriac served in a chicken reduction.
For drinks we opted to share a bottle of reasonably priced Laurent Perrier Champagne, which was superb. Unfortunately, we didn't have room for dessert as we were too stuffed, but it was probably for the best anyways as when we looked around the restaurant, we realised we were the last patrons! That being said, even though time had escaped us, the staff were waiting patiently to close up. This is the beauty of Loxleys, it is so relaxed, no one rushes you out the door and it's evident that service and hospitality are of the utmost importance.
The food is creative and well executed and the service is outstanding thanks to a hospitable owner and a service-oriented team.
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There's nothing more delicious in life than indulging in a sensational meal.