Dublin has itself a plush new playground for adults when 'The Grayson' opens at 5pm today. Housed in the building that was formerly private member's club Residence (along with Restaurant Forty-One), 'The Grayson' is the latest addition to the Press Up Entertainment group, who also own Roberta's, Sophie's and The Stella Diner, amongst others.
Press Up quietly purchased the beautiful but long-troubled building at 41 St. Stephen's Green from the Residence owners in January, and quietly closed it for refurbishment. Residence had boomed during the Celtic Tiger years, but had suffered to stay afloat since the recession, with yearly financial losses and numerous changes of ownership.
We've had a sneaky peak into 'The Grayson' and it's pretty stunning. There are four floors to explore, and one of the biggest differences between this and its previous incarnation is that they want it to feel less 'exclusive members club' and more 'everyone is welcome'. You can't book the bars, and they will always take walk-ins for food, so we're not expecting The Ivy mark two, where you seem to need a secret password to get to the bar without a prior booking.
One of the most striking areas is the atrium bar with its glass roof, and up the steps there's a smoking area with a retractable roof, the only downside being the smokers. The ground floor will serve lunch from Monday - Friday, and drinks and bar snacks all week, while the first and second floors will serve dinner every night from 5pm and weekend lunches from 12pm - 4pm. There are also loads of little nooks and crannies that you can book for a private dinner or event. It does feel a lot like being a guest in someone's mansion. We've also heard rumours that the basement might host a nightclub.
They describe the menu as "something for everyone", and while some of their other venues have had hammerings for their food in the past, this one looks pretty good (if unfocused), particularly the long weekend lunch with three different roast options, for when you just can't eat any more avocado toast. There are some interesting options on the wine list, and cocktails are well priced at €10 - €12.
James Gibbons has come home from managing Hawksmoor Seven Dials in London to take up the role of GM here, and he's about as pro as it gets when it comes to making people feel welcome - we're not expecting the front door to come complete with gatekeeper. We'd bet any money there'll be a critic in here within the next week, so watch this space.