Crash landing: Coda Eatery,The gibson hotel,Point Village,Dublin 1
Its vast spaces are more reminiscent of an airport than a restaurant, and Coda Eatery at the gibson hotel fails to hit the heights for Lucinda O'Sullivan, with an ill-judged menu and disappointing food
The gibson hotel at the Point Village is perhaps one of the last vestiges of the Celtic Tiger. With stunning views over the Liffey, it is convenient for attending concerts at the O2.
Arriving for dinner with Houston-based Paul, who spends his life flying from New York to Naples, Peking to Paris, and Seoul to Sydney, he felt quite at home striding through the vast Hemidemisemiquaver Bar and on to the section that is Coda Eatery. "Good airport," he quipped.
The gibson website states: "Coda combines stylish yet informal dining with simple, good food, locally sourced ingredients . . . daring flavours and exquisite presentation." Enhancing its rock pedigree, it also proclaims Coda was the final studio album of Led Zeppelin. Although, at 6.30pm, with half the restaurant set up for breakfast, we were definitely in a hotelly world.
It may have an Italian name, but the menu is Modern Oirish with pretensions to fine dining. I was initially pleased to see that the a la carte menu also offered two courses at €25 or four courses at €29.
Starters were not cheap at €10 a pop; soup €5 and oysters €13. Brendan had a black pudding toastie (€10) -- "apple chutney-dressed black pudding in a toasted sandwich with honey mustard dressing" -- which, had it come for €3 from a roadside van doing an all-day full Irish, would still have been rubbish. A flat, circular butty sitting on coleslaw contained a couple of half-crown size rings of black pudding with onion marmalade. Paul's baked "Annagassan" smokies (€10), of haddock with cream and cheese in a white cup, sported a copious overflow, which should have been tidied up. I had grilled goat's cheese St Patrick (€10) -- what St Patrick has to do with it I don't know, but it was another lazy dish. A tranche of lukewarm, untrimmed end-of-log goat's cheese, complete with thick, furry base, sat on mixed leaves with a sprinkle of pine nuts. A dog with a hammer could do it, and it looked like it had. Mains were €17 plus two "specialities"-- rib-eye steak (€20) or skate meuniere (€22) -- however, skate was "off". Paul's beef stroganoff (€17) -- "thin slices of fillet tails, quickly fried with mushrooms and flamed with brandy, creamy jus and a spoon of sour cream" -- was deep 'goulash' in colour, with red and green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and strips of meat like a navvy's rope -- so dark brown, chewy and dried out, they could have been used to tie up one of the boats on the Liffey. Brendan's fillet of pork (€17) proved to be four minuscule thin medallions sitting in a pool of "Cashel Blue cheese and port wine sauce" criss-crossed with chives. Hake Kenure House (€17) looked fine, but lacked firmness and bite. I sent it back to be reheated -- it returned still cool in the middle and still tasteless. We ploughed on with a creme brulee and a fruit tart at €7.
Three other diners had materialised by 8.20pm as the waiters were clearing the tables around us and re-setting for breakfast. I was feeling almost embarrassed in front of our guest; time for us to 'board'.
All in all, although I've given you the a la carte prices, it worked out at two four-course meals at €29 each and one two-course meal at €25. With a €7 overcharge removed, a bottle of Keenan's Bridge Shiraz Cabernet 2007 (€24) and two glasses of Saint Clair Vicar's Choice Sauvignon Blanc (€7.50 each), our bill sans service came to €122. Coffees were excellent.
Having dined, I approached the reception desk to have our car-park ticket validated. Silly me! Add €8.20 parking, plus €1.80 each way to cross the East Link Bridge.
The menu and food are seriously ill-judged here -- neither fine dining or slick, rapid-fire modern food.
Lead balloon was more in mind than Led Zeppelin as we took flight.
The gibson hotel,
Tel: (01) 681-5000
Sunday Indo Life Magazine