. Restaurants .

Posted: Monday, October 31, 2011 at 9:40 PM
Location: Ritz Carlton, Powerscourt
Dining companions: My man

What a treat – thanks to a €500 voucher won at a rugby ball earlier this year, my man and me recently spent two whole nights at the Ritz Carlton Powerscourt.  That’s not to say that the €500 is quite sufficient to spend two whole nights at the Ritz Carlton, but more on that later.

Skipping from work at 5pm Friday night, we leapt in the car and battled with the thousands of others heading south out of the city to make our merry way to Powerscourt.  I was extremely excited, I’d only had a glimpse of the hotel before and never been in.  I’d also been asking around and generally feedback was pretty good – well, to be more specific feedback on the rooms was amazing, feedback on the re-vamped Gordon Ramsay was non-existent as no one had made it yet and feedback on the old Gordon Ramsay restaurant was mixed, to say the least.

Good news – the room did not disappoint.  It was huge, and the bed was fabulous – large and sumptuous.  The bathroom – key element – was also fab, large bath, separate shower, two sinks and all positively gleaming.  I also liked having a separate little room to put the clothes and cases in, but it was rather small and grim to be honest.

So…. our first night at the Ritz Carlton and off we headed to the McGills, the hotel bar.  What a rip off.  The bill for some pub grub (fish and chips x 2) and 2 drinks each was over €70.  The food was good and well presented, but €18 for fish and chips, €18 for a burger etc. seems steep to me.  I have just looked on the website and they do seem to have slightly cheaper prices so either I’ve noted down my priced incorrectly or the website is not up to date – apologies if that’s me.

Unfortunately McGills was also dead – potentially because it’s a bit of a rip off, I don’t know.  Rather than stick around we pulled on our coats and started to walk into Enniskerry – our luck was obviously in as well as a lovely taxi driver picked us up on his way back from a drop off and left us in for nothing.  What a nice man!  Couple of cheeky drinks in one of the local pubs, a brisk walk back and it was time to lie back in the wonderful bed – heaven.

Woke up well slept and relaxed, looking forward to my breakfast.  Sadly ended up in a rage at the terrible service – having been looking for a table on terrace thanks to the beautiful morning, we ended up shooed back upstairs to the reception level as the restaurant was “full”.  I had the pleasure of looking down at numerous unset tables on the terrace, any one of which I would have loved could they have been bothered to set it.

We elected to leave the hotel for a few hours, coming back in time for a massage for me that was part of our ‘Enliven the senses’ package.  The spa was an absolute delight.  I did a few lengths in the fabulous black swimming pool full of twinkly lights and then was taken upstairs.  The staff at the spa were lovely, they could not have been more helpful and really stood out to me.  The massage was deep and relaxing – aromatherapy massage, and my masseuse was not shy of giving it a bit of welly which was just what a needed.  I had a potter around the relaxation rooms, sauna, spa etc and everything seemed clean and luxurious – the spa isn’t huge, but nor was it overly busy so it was perfect.  I could happily have spent a few more hours in there and would look into another trip some time – although I’m not sure there would be enough to keep me entertained for a full spa day.

The piece de resistance of the weekend was our Saturday dinner at the (relatively) recently re-vamped Gordon Ramsay restaurant.  Our meal was part of our package, with drinks on top – at €10 for a G&T they probably do ok out of the deal I think.

As I mentioned earlier I’d heard very mixed reviews about the previous incarnation of the Gordon Ramsay restaurant – sounds like it potentially was trying a bit too hard, not something you could accuse it of now.  The menu at first glance is quite short and quite safe.  But I don’t mind that as long as everything they do, they do very well – but did they?  For starter my man had a crab cocktail that came in a glass dish with very distinct layers.  The presentation was good, and the taste was clean – but the portion was just too big.  My quail with spinach, smoked bacon and onions was under-seasoned and under-whelming – wish I’d tried the pressed ham and foie gras.

We had both been torn on the main choices, I swayed between calves’ liver and bacon, the pork plate and a steak, before finally settling on hake.  Luckily my man had the pork plate so I got to taste that too.  The pork plate consisted of pork belly, trotter and loin with a smoked mash and spinach.  Great main – some different elements, moist, flavoursome meat and the smoked mash certainly packed a punch.  The hake was actually halibut on the night we were there, but that was fine by me – the item that had really drawn me to the dish was a shrimp ravioli and that did not disappoint – al dente with a bold dense filling, delicious.  The dish had a seafood foam, which for me would have been better as a sauce – it would have helped bring the dish together and moved it up a notch I think.
Pudding was far and away the best course for me – rum and raisin ice cream filled profiteroles with caramelised bananas and warm caramel sauce.  My man’s crème brulee with pineapple was grand, but his dish of the day was deffo the pork.  One very expensive espresso (€5.50) later and it was time to hit the sack – satisfied.

The next morning we luckily got straight into the restaurant for breakfast – but not outside as the weather had turned.  Such a difference from being upstairs.  Staff gave you menus for the hot food you could order, there was an egg man cooking omelettes etc.  A different experience, and a much better one – if you’re ever going don’t be fobbed off upstairs.

So our two night stay had a couple of ups and downs, the ups being the room and the spa, the downs breakfast-gate and the prices. We did however definitely leave the Ritz Carlton feeling more relaxed than we were when we arrived.  I’m not sure I would have felt quite so relaxed however if I hadn’t had our €500 voucher.  Our package for two nights B&B, dinner in Gordon Ramsay and a 1 hour massage was €700 – our extras were another €150.  So, overall we paid €350 – that felt reasonable, if I work it all through that probably felt like a little bit of a bargain – but believe me, €850 would have felt like daylight robbery .