Wednesday 23 October 2019

'When you’re in the restaurant game, you don’t guess the price' - Dylan McGrath on his €160 steak

A look inside the newly-opened Shelbourne Social

Cookin’ up a storm: Dylan McGrath has also appeared as a judge on RTE’s version of ‘MasterChef’
Cookin’ up a storm: Dylan McGrath has also appeared as a judge on RTE’s version of ‘MasterChef’
Celebrity chef Dylan McGrath. Photo: Frank McGrath
Changing times: Chef Dylan McGrath. Photo: Andres Poveda
Chef Dylan McGrath. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Chef Dylan McGrath in Fade Street Social

Geraldine Gittens and Johnny Brew

LEADING chef Dylan McGrath has insisted that he was "a lot more appreciative of budget than people realise" when opening his new restaurant Shelbourne Social - and deciding the prices.

The menu at his new Dublin 4 restaurant includes a 60-day aged rib eye steak for €70, a four-person serving of smoked short rib beef for €160, a sharing pot of duck for €100, and tuna for as much as €60. The rib beef is also available for a three-person serving for €120.

But McGrath says the Shelbourne Social is based around a "family style" dining experience that's designed to be fun, and also contains cheaper vegetarian options.

"I see that we hit the headlines this week with a steak for €120. Really what it's about is maturing the meat up to nearly 50 to 60 days, and we do that in an ageing fridge here on site. Some of it is the best cattle in the country. When it's cooked, we're charring it in the oven and we're cooking some of it in a smoker, and it's carved on the table which means you can have up to three to four customers all having the beef."

"When you consider all of the elements that go along with this, consider the steak, we think it's good value."

“We’re a lot more appreciative of budget that people realise... It’s not an accolade chasing restaurant. I just want to do something really cool, and do something that people are like ‘I like eating here’.”

Shelbourne Social opened its doors on Thursday, and customers were charged 20 per cent of their bills to allow for a testing period. Meats are carved at the table, and the service staff plays a big part in gauging what they might recommend to one diner separate to the next. Staff bring personality and energy to what they're serving, McGrath, who also owns Rustic Stone Rustic Stone, Taste, and Bonsai Bar, says.

“When you’re in the restaurant game, you don’t guess the price. There are certain things that you [take into account].”

“The Irish Dexter beef, it’s an old breed that’s been brought back; it’s incredible beef that’s been aged for 60 days. It can cost anywhere from €70, it depends on how much you order. With the Dexter cut in particular, we throw a couple of weights on the board - I’m doing this in Fade Street Social for years and customers like it – and people order how much they want… I could eat Dexter beef all day.”

“People visiting the restaurant have a true interest in food; some of them are diners of mine from old - the community has welcomed us too - and they’re really excited to see me doing something new.”

“I had a family last night - five of them – one person ordered a pork because they wanted something to eat on their own, and the rest had the short rib which I carved for them myself at the table. It had been smoked for six hours, it’s a stunning piece of meat that they wouldn’t expect. And they all left very happy.”

Convention isn't high on the agenda at Shelbourne Social, and McGrath hopes that new diners will be inspired when they walk through its doors and feel the buzz to try something new.

"I don’t know anywhere that you can have top end Japanese style of beef, or tuna, and share it with pasta... There’s such a broad spectrum on there that there doesn’t really have any rules.”

“The only rules are you can come in and order what you like. And you can be clever [on price] with what you order. You could be ordering a whole duck for two, or three - once you buy the duck, it’s up to you. If you want to order one vegetarian plate - we tried to get ahead on an individualised vegan menu that’s coming out next week. [For example] we’re going to take a parmesan wheel which is a big weight, chop it in half, and we’re going to heat the cheese and melt it inside the wheel, put the pasta in there with vinegar and cream and truffle and dress it and serve it in bowls at the table.”

“[This style of dining] creates an energy between the guest and the person serving; it creates a little bit of interaction, and a homely style for a strong community [in Dublin 4], rather than following the conventional style of starter, main and dessert.”

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