The rubber-tyre men may have had a fit when MPW ditched his three stars, writes our critic, but Marco’s is still rolling along merrily
Much has been written about Marco Pierre White down the years, but did you know that his favourite off-duty food is fish ‘n’ chips? I discovered this when Marco began heading the judging panel of The Restaurant TV show, on which I’ve been a guest judge a number of times.
There’s a lot of posturing and ‘being Marco’, but that’s all just part of the game for the original ‘angry young chef’ of Hell’s Kitchen fame, who, aged 32 in 1994, was the first British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars. However, this son of Leeds loves to slip off for a ‘one ‘n’ one’ at his favourite Dublin chipper, or for a day’s fishing.
Five years after reaching his three-star goal, Marco stunned the culinary world by handing back the stars he’d spent 17 years striving for, and changing direction by franchising restaurants serving classic French food.
His collaboration with Fitzers Restaurant Group has seen him as the only UK celebrity chef to succeed here. Gordon Ramsay at Powerscourt, Jean-Christophe Novelli at La Stampa and the late Gary Rhodes in Capel Street all failed to impress the unexpectedly discerning Dubs before retreating back to the safety of Londinium. I was in them all on their first nights... but not on their last!
I love the glamorous retro Soho atmosphere of the MPW Dawson Street branch and its terrace, but meeting my friend Mary for dinner recently we headed to MPW Donnybrook, which has an amazing courtyard, and service by formally attired waiters adding that certain je ne sais quoi.
Ensconced in a lovely corner table under the courtyard canopy, we resisted the temptation of cocktails — Old Fashioned, French 75, Chambord Bellini, Margarita (€12-€15) — ordering two glasses of Ramón Bilbao Rosado 2019 (€8.50 each) and taking in the who’s who of the D4 brigade, while perusing the menu between glances.
Starters (€7.95-€15.95) had Castletownbere crab with apple, cucumber, fresh herbs and mayo, while two other summery options included a chargrilled chicken Caesar salad and Ryefield goat’s cheese with beetroot and walnut dressing. I’m always up for a prawn cocktail, and MPW do a very smart version (€15.95) in a tall-stemmed martini glass with piped avocado purée and Marie Rose sauce.
Mary had superb French-style chicken liver parfait (€9.95) topped with raisins, along with Madeira jelly served with toasted brioche.
Roasts, grills and fish range from €19.95-€36. A classic steak frites is served with Béarnaise sauce, while free-range poulet vert comes with fondant potato, lemon aioli, basil pesto and rocket. Rump of lamb is à la Dijonnaise, with fondant potato, green beans and mint jus, while fish dishes include grilled hake Romesco with olive-roasted potatoes and asparagus; or organic salmon with petits pois, pancetta, onions and lemon beurre blanc.
Steaks (€30-€36) are big at MPW — 10oz sirloin, 8oz centre-cut fillet and Peter Hannan’s salt-aged 12oz Delmonico rib-eye; all come with triple-cooked chips or kale Caesar salad, and the option of garlic butter, Béarnaise sauce or classic au poivre (€2.95 each). My centre-cut fillet (€33) with Béarnaise (€2.95) and frites arrived with a side of big, crunchy pickled onion rings (€4.95). Well seared and medium rare — it was perfect.
Mary loved her big bowl of linguini (€19.95) with olive oil, shallot, garlic, cherry tomatoes, olives, feta and basil pesto.
With our mains, we had two glasses (€9.50 each) of Costadoro ‘La Rocca’ Superiore Rosso Piceno DOC 2016, a fruity Montepulciano-sangiovese blend from the Adriatic coastal Marche region of Italy.
Hard aground when it came time for desserts and cheese (€9.95/€11.95), we passed on crème brûlée; Eton mess; chocolate truffle torte; Cashel, Clonmore, Milleens and Coolea cheeses, and on a tempting selection of liqueur coffees.
For a fab and much-needed night out, our bill with service came to €137.75.
Marco Pierre White Courtyard Bar & Grill,
Belmont Ave, Donnybrook, D4.
Tel: (01) 551-0555