17 South Great George’s Street
Phone: 01 707 9596
Dylan McGrath is one of Ireland’s most high profile chefs. His tendency to speak his mind, his firm embrace of the highest of standards means that he has crossed swords with others in the industry. He has also been a fair but firm judge on Masterchef Ireland and he is someone whose energy seems limitless.
I first tasted his food at Mint, the Michelin-starred little restaurant in Ranelagh in which he rapidly achieved fame, even notoriety. He was very young and a little wild. No, very wild. But within the manic style it was clear that this was a man who understood tastes and textures at an instinctive level.
When the crash came and the Dublin restaurant trade received a long overdue kick in the balance sheet, Mint was one of the casualties. Dylan McGrath could have headed off for pastures new where he could have spent the better part of the last decade garnering Michelin stars in somewhere like New York or Sydney.
But, perverse to the end, he stayed in Dublin, did a lot of thinking about how to make restaurants work in a challenging climate and invented two new concepts that captured the public imagination and started to make money.
Fade Street Social and Taste at Rustic, two of his creations, are landmark Dublin restaurants but Rustic Stone saw Dylan McGrath’s carefully calculated change of direction, opening at a time when most restaurants were considering closing. In many ways, it encapsulates the man’s approach to the restaurant business. It grabs the zeitgeist firmly, understands it thoroughly and then sets about serving it better than anyone else.
In a country where the average menu does nothing for the appetite and is a yawn written down, the dishes at Rustic Stone leap from the page and demand to be eaten. Chicken wings with sticky soya, crushed sesame seeds and lime zest, garlic chips, red sprouts and coriander, for example. Was there ever such guilt-free “dirty’ food? And the wings are free range, of course. And there’s so much more. Salads that have been thought about, designed, constructed. Steaks that you can finish on a hot stone at the table. Hamburgers that redefine the word. Carrot broth infused with star anise and tarragon (see what I mean about thinking dishes through?) These are just a few tastes of the menu at Rustic Stone.
As one who laughs cynically at the notion of superfoods and who has serious questions about how “healthy eating” is defined, I can say that Rustic Stone never fails to make me feel better coming out than I did going in. So, it simply has to be a healthy restaurant. And of course, it’s not just food for the body. Thought goes into every dish, and that’s how you get a thought-provoking menu.