New Chef, New Menu at the Gibson Hotel: By Melanie May
The Gibson Hotel has an, almost new, Executive Head Chef in the form of Nicholas Woollard who joined the hotel in July of this year. Nicholas has worked in many Michelin star restaurants including Les Saveurs De Jean Christophe Novelli in London and the Box Tree and Wild Boar in Dublin, where he attained a Michelin Bib Gourmand.
Rather than jumping straight in and changing the menu when he started, Nicholas took his time and it is only now, three months in, that we get to see and taste the new menu he has created at the Coda Eatery in the Gibson.
The Coda Eatery is spacious and trendy and has an informal but still kinda up-market vibe. It has a heated outdoor terrace and offers great views out over the Grand Canal Dock. It also has a ‘wine wall’ from which you can choose old and new world wines from the towering racks.
But I wasn’t interested in the long wine list, I was here to eat and if the basket of fresh baked breads that I was slowly working my way through was anything to go by, I knew I was in for a good feed! The menu wasn’t too big or overly complicated and to me a good menu is one were there are a couple of dishes from each course that you cannot decided between. The starters range in price from €8- to €13 and I was torn between the seared scallops (with cauliflower puree, sultana and caper dressing and toasted hazelnuts) and the whipped Fivemiletown Goat’s Cheese (with beetroot, crispy goats cheese bonbon and caramelised walnuts). I went for the goat’s cheese and I was not disappointed. The soft, creamy, tangy cheese was balanced well by the sweet beetroot and walnuts and warm salty bonbon. My companion’s scallops were equally as tasty and both portions were just the right size to leave you wanting more but with plenty of room for the main course.
The mains range from €16 for macaroni and cheese (with blue cheese and panko crumb) to €32 for a 10oz fillet of steak from the lava rock char grill. I was torn between ordering the steak or the roast fillet of cod (with vermouth crème, peas, beans and black bacon). In the end the 10oz fillet steak won and when the tender, pink, cooked-to-perfection portion was brought out, I knew I had made the right decision – although, my companion’s cod did look very appetising and was an extremely good portion size too. My steak came with really crisp but fluffy home-cut chips and a chimichurri sauce.
Sides were priced at €4 each and included Parmesan fries and charred scallions with goat’s cheese. Desserts were €6 each and included steamed banana and walnut pudding and apple tart but I opted for the glazed lemon tart with raspberry sorbet. It was beautifully decorated and presented and I just stopped short of licking the plate and only because I was in the company of strangers with cameras! It was a wonderful dish that merged different textures and sweet and tart perfectly together.
To finish, we were presented with some of the most perfectly baked mini French macarons I have ever had and a selection of hand made truffles to go with our coffees. I was well and truly stuffed but happy by the time I rolled out of the Coda Eatery and I have no hesitation in recommending people to try out Chef Woollard’s menu and kitchen skills for themselves. I was really impressed with the menu choices, the portion sizes, the taste and presentation of the dishes and the overall dining experience. My companion remarked that she would definitely go back there again for a special occasion, as it was one of the best-cooked steaks she had ever had, budget being the only restriction to her returning sooner. It’s her birthday soon, I wonder if that was her way of dropping me a hint!