Dublin's newest Chinese restaurant opens tonight, and the prices are not for the financially challenged. The Old Post Office (named for the building it's housed in), which has reportedly cost €1.6m to open, bills itself as an "authentic Sichuan" restaurant, with a lunchtime set menu at €45, and evening set menus from €70 - €120. Á la carte prices are equally punchy, with a starter of panko coated cod fillet in garlic sauce €22, and a cornfed chicken breast in Sichuan chilli sauce for €32. Rice is an extra €5.
Four chefs have been recruited from the Sichuan province in China by the unnamed Chinese owners, with head chef Yu Shuchen formerly working as a tutor in a catering school. Despite the Sichuan sentiments, much of the menu features dishes more usually featured in Cantonese cuisine, like spare ribs, roast duck and pancakes, and beef in black bean sauce. Granted it's Skeaghanore duck and Hereford beef, but this is not straight out of downtown Chengdu.
Manager Paul Malone has a background in five-star hotels like the Four Seasons, and more recently The Marker and The Iveagh Garden Hotel, and says he's not worried about a backlash to the prices, as once people taste the quality of the food and see all of the detail in the restaurant, from the oil paintings on the walls to the french cutlery and china on the table, they'll know it was worth the money.
Considering that the tasting menu at (formerly and hopefully soon to be again Michelin-starred) Liath is €78, and the four course menu at two-starred Patrick Guilbaud is €135, prices seem ambitious for a chef team with no existing national or international aclaim, but the restaurant is already booked out for night one, with the team "inundated" with enquiries since media coverage started yesterday. We know at least two national critics are booked in this week (but our bet is on more), so expect some verdicts soon on whether it's worth the price tag.
The Old Post Office
Old Post Office, Blackrock Main Street, Co. Dublin