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All the style, with the substance to back it up


24 Jun 2024


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Written by:

Lisa Cope

What should we know about Floritz?

It's the floral wallpaper-filled, velvet booth-lined, Asian influenced, all the notions new restaurant, in the building that used to be Cliff Townhouse, but is now home to newly opened boutique hotel Townhouse on the Green. The new landlords also own The Fitzwilliam Hotel across the Green, and The Bailey around the corner, and the basement level wine bar Cellar 22 opened last November, in the space where seafood wine bar Urchin used to be (read our review of that here).

The head chef at Floritz, Matt Fuller, was most recently at Suesey Street, but he's probably best known for his Spanish restaurant Boqueria, which gained a name in Stoneybatter, moved to a bigger location in Howth, then closed the year after. He also has a relationship with The Fitzwilliam Hotel owners that goes way back - in another lifetime he was head chef at Citron, the hotel's restaurant before Glover's Alley. Check out this absolute stunner of a blast from the past.

Floritz's website describes it as "an invitation to travel far, far away without leaving this dramatic dining-room", and there's a whole narrative about how the man who build this house was an adventurer who travelled to India and the Far East to seek his fortune, and how you could stick him in here now with a lamb bao and he'd be right at home. They call it "a room to see, and be seen in", so we had to go and see didn't we.

Where should we sit?

It's all very glam, very comfortable, and very brightly coloured. The money seats are the ones inside the windows at the front, over-looking St Stephen's Green, with all that lovely natural light streaming onto mulberry-coloured velvet banquettes.

There's an argument for the more private booths in the centre across from the bar, if you're having an intimate kind of night, and want to feel like you're in your own personal space.

There's a third section up some steps at the back which looks like the ideal place for bigger groups, or even a semi-private dining space.

What's on the menu?

They describe the food as having "global influences", but really it's Asia. The menu is very long, with sections for "crudo", "kitori grill", "sushi", "bowls", "tempura", and a full homage to Irish Wagyu steak, with sirloins and rib-eyes priced at €50 per 100g (€100-€200 per steak). While the length of the menu, with its ever more compelling-sounding dishes, might make choosing a drawn-out affair, it does mean that everyone coming in will be catered for, and there's countless reasons to come back. Enjoy your warm hand towel while you debate.

There are 10 "kitori grill" skewers, priced from €6.50 for Globe Artichoke to €15.50 for compressed halibut. The Dublin Bay Prawns with a majada crumb felt like robbery when it arrived with two prawns for €13.50, but one bite into the sweet, smoky seafood with its paprika crumb, dipped in a milky, umami-filled whey dipping sauce, and we couldn't have cared less about the price tag.

Another of aged beef rump with truffle tare (€9.50) comes with a "black pepper crème brûlée" that we were fully expecting to take the piss out of - instead we just keep trying to scoop up more of that creamy, peppery sauce with that sweet, tender meat. It's more of a rich aioli, and nothing like the crunchy sugar-topped dessert - but again, we don't care.

On the crudo section there are six choices for raw fish dressed in various combinations of salt, fat and acid, right up to an o-toro (belly) tuna tartare with Oscietra caviar for €69. Our pockets aren't that deep so it was yellowtail with jalapeño (€18 for five pieces), and zero regrets - there was lip-smacking, spoon scooping and minute cutting to make it last a little bit longer. That balance - bang on.

Then to sushi, with nigiri, hosomaki and sashimi. It's all ambitiously priced, with Nigiri €10 - €18 for two pieces, and the option of a 9-piece sashimi selection for €70. We slummed it with a couple of pieces of tuna chūtoro nigiri for €14 (a medium fatty cutty from the belly), and while we've never paid this much for nigiri in Dublin before, we've also never had tuna of this quality here before. 10/10 would hand over that cash again.

We skipped the bowls and soup fearing we wouldn't be able for much else, and went to the bao for duck with leek, koji and hash brown (€18 for two). While again there's poetic licence on the loose (it's more potato straw than hash brown), this is a juicy, meat feast, enclosed in homemade bao buns - we hear the lamb is also excellent.

From the chef's specials, the miso roast black cod with preserved red onion was incorrectly priced on the menu, and once we found out it was €25 and not €43, it became more appealing. Black cod (sablefish) is no relation to cod, with flesh that's fatty and velvety, as opposed to firm, lean, white and flaky. When our waiter brought the dish he advised us not to eat the skin - this is bad advice, it might be the best bit. The portion size and lack of anything resembling a side hurt for the price, but yet again, once we had that buttery flesh, miso flavoured skin, and tangy pickled onions on a one way trip into our mouths, price ceased to be an issue.

From the tempura section we wanted all the food, (sweetcorn fritters, tempura oysters, turbot, courgette flowers - how much temptation can one person take!?), but settled on pickled onion rings with sumo miso mayonnaise, because - pickled onion rings. While we were expecting a chunkier version, that would probably be a bit uncouth in the setting - the slinky slivers of perfectly vinegared and impeccably drained deep-fried onions were only made better by a dunk in that miso mayo. The perfect snack with a glass of white wine.

There's no ice-cream filler desserts on the menu here either. The five options have had as much time and thought put into them as everything else, and a white chocolate mille-feuille with yuzu, mandarin and ginger sorbet and calamansi vinaigrette was precise in every element - LOOK at those pastry layers. Now imagine all of those citrus flavours dancing around it.

The only slight misfire of the meal was a cherry blossom baba, soaked in Haku vodka with black sesame ice-cream. There's a reason a baba is usually soaked in rum - because it has flavour - and everything here was very muted in comparison to what had come before, but we can see a certain caviar eating, vodka-drinking set enjoying it.

What about drinks?

Cocktails are separated by the glass they come in (short on the rocks/coupe/nick and nora/copper mug) which is a clever way of categorising, and both the Ichigo-go-go with whiskey; Campari infused with star anise; and Ume plum liqueur, and the Yuzu Do You with gin, amaro and yuzu liqueur, tasted like they'd been made by someone who was not partaking in their first rodeo.

We found the wine list more lacking, with an uninspiring by the glass list and a house Champagne that should be better for €18 a glass. If you're drinking by the glass we'd recommend the Greco di Tufo for white, and the Torre Mora Etna Rosso or the Barbera from Pio Cesare for red. There's not a lot else to get excited about.

How was the service?

At first overwhelming, with what felt like an endless stream of visitors to our table asking questions, asking whether we had questions, if we'd looked at our menus (we hadn't), if we'd like a wet hand towel (we would). Once they chilled out a bit the service was exact, with every question we had about the many unusual ingredients on the menu answered without hesitation. Tastes of wine were brought when we couldn't decide, offers to change a clearly underwhelming glass, dishes brought at a perfect pace - there's been a weighty amount of staff training in here, and good hiring too.

What was the damage?

We paid €228 for two before tip. We initially thought we'd over-ordered and wouldn't be able to finish everything, but in reality some of the portions are so small that we could have ordered more. Despite the price/portion size ratio, we left bursting to return and try more.

What's the verdict on Floritz?

It would have been so easy to get the interior designers in, plaster flowers all over the wall, cover everything in gold and serve a menu of soulness, love-free food that the glitterati will come for anyway - it's literally happening around the corner. But that's not the story at Floritz. They've shown up with the full package, and the closest comparison we can make is to somewhere like Hakkasan in London - all the style, and all of the substance to back it up. Calling this "a room to be seen in" is doing it a disservice. This is a room to eat in. Just spend a bit of time studying that tome of a menu before you get there.

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