The Conrad Hotel
Earlsfort Terrace
Dublin 2
Phone: 01 602 8900

The Coburg is not a hotel restaurant in the sense that most of us understand. It’s an exceptional and eclectic restaurant that happens to be in a hotel. It makes a lot of people very, very happy.

You don’t need to be as clear-sighted as an eagle to observe that very few hotel restaurants make it on to this website. The reason is very simple. Most of them are rubbish. And this is where The Coburg stands out in much the same way as a lighthouse leaps out of a calm sea.

The Coburg not just has soul (most hotels have that sucked out by some sort of corporate Dementors), it manages to keep a vast range of people happy while never compromising on quality. And it’s not just the quality and skill in the cooking, it’s the crisp, stylish presentation.

It’s not easy being a hotel restaurant. Most of the guests will have decided, well in advance, that they will eat the breakfast that’s included in the price and go elsewhere for sustenance during the rest of the day.

It’s born of bitter experience in many cases. You arrive at night in a city that you don’t know and you brave the dining room which is advertised to you in the lift with pictures of impossibly glossy, all-purpose, one-size-fits-all food. You will be refuelled but lose part of your soul.

One of the excuses that hotel chains have for feeding us rubbish is a combination of tight margins, centralised buying and the need to be all things to all people. What the Conrad has done is to create a menu that ticks all of the boxes without being annnoyingly big and – this is the really impressive thing – producing excellent food.

All this in a rather glamorous environment at – can you believe it? – very fair prices.

Consider €12 for an exceptionally pretty prawn cocktail served in a copper coloured martini glass.

A plate of beef carpaccio was perfect. How often do I say that? Each disc of wafer-thin raw fillet of beef (the outer rim just seared) was marbled with tiny veins of fat, impeccably seasoned, anointed with a drizzle of truffle vinaigrette and finished with some filaments of Parmesan. Absolutely perfect. You would not get better anywhere on the planet and yours for €11.50.

Lobster and prawn ravioli were a further triumph, not just for the kitchen and head chef Dmitry Stryakov but for the concept that less is more and one of the key commandments of good food: keep it simple.

And so it goes on. But wait. It actually gets better. This is a hotel kitchen that has a pastry chef, and a darn good pastry chef at that. The individual tarte tatin is testament to real skill and also to the vision behind this restaurant. And I mean a real restaurant in a hotel.

The Conrad is lucky to have Dmitry Stryakov and Dmitry is lucky to have The Conrad. That’s real synergy.

It’s interesting to watch the customers in The Coburg. No doubt many of them are staying in the hotel but, early in the evening many of them dining before going across the road to the National Concert Hall. All of them are having a good time and all of them are there because they want to be.

Of how many hotel restaurants can you say that?