Ascend to luxury at The Fitzwilliam Hotel on St Stephen’s Green, where the light-filled Thornton’s offers perfectly pitched dishes that feature some old favourites, as well as some fascinating variants on delicious European dishes

IT’S a lovely gesture, when a friend offers to take you for lunch, but when they say they are treating you to
Thornton’s on St Stephen’s Green – well, you know you have a friend for life.
I haven’t eaten in that dining room since it was run by Conrad Gallagher, and that was many moons ago, so I was really looking forward to seeing it in its reincarnation as Kevin Thornton’s Michelin starred offering.
We ate there on one of those beautiful Indian summer days that we have been having recently, and the dining room was drenched in light.
It’s a really relaxing space and I settled into my very comfortable seat, ready for an afternoon of good conversation, exceptional food and a little bit of theatrics from Kevin himself.
For starters, I went for the braised pig’s belly with celeriac puree and poitin sauce, while my companion settled on the wild Atlantic turf-smoked mackerel with sashimi of mackerel.
Both dishes were a joy to look at, but the pretty plates didn’t stay like that for long as we devoured our delicious starters. I downed my poitin sauce, which came in a shot glass, and resembled a baby Guinness. It packed a punch.
This was followed by a baby beetroot salad, with St Tola goat’s cheese. I love my beet, and this cooling dish was perfect before the main.
We both plumped for the fillet of Atlantic wild brill with shrimps, saffron and lemongrass consomme.
This is when everything went a bit “Hogwarts”, and the man himself appeared with what looked like a chemistry beaker, with smokey plumes wafting from it, floating the beaker under my nose.
Kevin proceeded to pour the consomme over the dish and then left in a puff of smoke …
No – I’m joking, but I was certainly transfixed with this performance. He told us that the shrimps had been hand-picked (not foraged, ahem) with a net, just like we would have done as children.
This fish was light, fragrant and perfect as an end of summer dish.
A pre-dessert, of plums poached in poitin syrup, lemon mousse and vanilla ice cream, was followed by the main event – Valrhona chocolate opera, and end of season strawberries.
We dipped the rich cake into the strawberry sorbet and enjoyed the intensity of the dish, marvelling at the extent of the menu we had just consumed. However, we did not feel overly full, which was a nice feeling.
I enjoyed a glass of Riesling Kabinett Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Markus Molitor, Mosel, Germany 2012 (€14).
Riesling is enjoying a resurgence in popularity of late. In fact, I have been searching for this bottle ever since our lunch, such was the impression it made on me.
My companion had a Chablis, Dom Louis Michel, Burgundy, France 2013 (€13).
All in all, the meal was a triumph, and Thornton’s remains the perfect place to go for that special occasion.
Lunch is priced €35 for two courses, or €45 for three courses.