I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dublin look as good in January as it did from Sophie’s restaurant at The Dean. This four-star Harcourt Street hotel is incredibly slick and stylish and filled with eclectic design details that make it feel edgy, but elegant.
It makes me sad for our city when the best way we can think of to praise a new venue is to say it doesn’t feel like Dublin, but like [insert achingly hip American or European city here]. So I am not going to tell you that The Dean feels a bit like a New York hotel. What it feels like is contemporary Dublin (which, ok, can sometimes feel a little bit like New York), complete with Irish art, neon signage and a colour palette that is sophisticated and neutral, but also a little bit brooding and dark.
Sophie’s is on the fifth floor, with a 360 degree view of the city, from the mountains to the sea. They only take bookings for parties of six or more, so you may need to wait; hang out at the bar – it runs through the centre of the room - and check out the cocktails. It was quiet when Frillseeker's Kirstie and I first arrived, but it filled up fast, and very quickly, the atmosphere was buzzing.
We both ordered the Pork & Fennel sausage pizza (there’s a woodfired oven), splitting an avocado salad and some fries. We needn’t have bothered with the sides (we left our last slice), but the pizza was excellent. No tomato sauce, but lots of rich, salty taleggio cheese, with caramelised onion, rosemary and chunks of hearty sausage. Very filling, very good, with plentiful toppings on a nice crisp base.
Service is friendly; not a whiff of hipster posturing, which can be hard to avoid in somewhere as popular as The Dean already is. And the prices surprised me – in a good way. Our bill was about thirty quid between us, and ok, we had pizza, and wine by the glass, but hello: this is the hottest place in town. Also: that view! So obviously, I’ll be back – most probably for brunch – and you should go too if you can. Check out the menus on the website and pay them a visit soon.