3 Brighton Road
Phone: 01 289 7711
The very essence of a restaurant that is more than worth a detour, tucked away in Foxrock village, Bistro One is too easy too miss. In reality, it’s one of Dublin’s best restaurants.
Bistro One is, in true old Foxrock fashion, very, very discreet. Unless you knew it was there, you would be very unlikely to stumble upon it and a lot of the customers seem to live within walking distance. To say a restaurant is a well kept secret is usually a lame old cliché (or just wrong); in the case of Mark Shannon's understated establishment, it’s simply true.
Well, I am not content to remain silent and keep it hidden. Bistro One is too good for that and the team, led by veteran Dublin restaurateur, Mark Shannon, his daugher Kate and chef Jonathan Fox are obsessed by detail and quality.
Mark bilocates between south Dublin and Tuscany where he has a hundred olive trees, organically cultivated, that provide a gloriously green, profound, peppery oil for the restaurant. His local butcher, near Lucca, makes salsiccie, prosciutto and salame expressly for Bistro One. Mark even persuaded legendary chocolate maker, Amedei (in a nearby town) to sell him their precious wares (Bistro One is the only place in Ireland where you will find the stuff, ideally in the form of a warm fondant pudding made with the 66% cocoa solids version; it’s Heston Blumenthal’s chocolate of choice, by the way).
Now, you might think it’s an Italian restaurant. It’s not. There is an Italian accent, so to speak, but only to the extent that the Italians think about good food all the time. Mark and Jonathan and Kate are like that too and the menu is eclectic, relying always on perfect provenance. Nothing gets cooked here unless it’s first rate. There are three fish suppliers, numerous sources of vegetables, virtually everything comes from dedicated specialists. And the proof, of course, is in the eating.
I love the way Mark describes what they do: “The best available produce, sourced every day, cooked with a European sensibility.” The menu is written each day and posted on the website; how many restaurants can claim that?
The discreet charm of Bistro One is reflected in the understated decor, the crisp linen, the sparkling but simple stemware (or glasses as most of us call them, I suppose). It doesn’t need to shout because this is a supremely confident restaurant that embodies Escoffier’s mantra of et surtout, faites simple.
Unsurprisingly, Bistro One has a passionately loyal, largely local following but it’s simply mad that so few people outside Dublin 18 and Blackrock/Monkstown know about it. This is some of the best food, not just in Dublin but in the entire country and some of the best value too. Lunch is €24 for two courses, €29 for three; the same deal is available for the set dinner menu which is posted, along with the á la carte, by 5pm each evening. So you can choose what you want before you even arrive.
Mark Shannon has long been associated with good wine and the list at Bistro One is compact but very carefully chosen, with lots of options by the glass.
When the olive crop is harvested, usually in early November, and it has been taken to the frantoia for pressing, Mark is on the next flight home with the first five litres and it’s on the tables in the restaurant that evening.
That, I think, is perhaps the one, simple piece of information that tells you everything you need to know about Bistro One. It’s a wholehearted restaurant, a treasure.