March 03, 2013

The Exchange Restaurant & Cocktail Bar: A Dine in Dublin Experience

Last Friday was the end of a very busy time in work where nine months of organising finally came to fruition. It's always a wonderful feeling when work like that is over and celebrations were in order. Cocktails and celebration come hand in hand in my mind so when I saw The Exchange were participating in Dine in Dublin I got a few of the girls together for a Friday night outing.

The Exchange is part of the Westin Hotel, a five star hotel located on Westmoreland Street in Dublin. The five star atmosphere is present the moment you set foot into the place with a beautiful lobby and very welcoming staff. The restaurant itself is gorgeous with an art deco theme running through it. It is plush yet very comfortable. To start we were presented with a bread bucket with some warm fresh breads in it alongside some olive oil & balsamic and some tomato salsa.

The Exchange Dine in Dublin menu was more limited than at 37 Dawson Street as there were supplements attached to a good few of the options which pushed the price out of the 25 euro range and towards the 30 mark. This didn't deter any of us as the menu was still fantastic value. Four of us went for the pan roasted king scallops with crisp pancetta, chive potato puree, and clam and tomato velouté. These were beautifully presented and are always such a treat to get out. It was also the first time one of the girls had ever tried scallops and she was pleasantly surprised that they were so meaty.

Pan Roasted King Scallops
The other starter that was chosen was the crisp pork belly with caramelised apples, celeriac and cider butter and it also got the thumbs up.

Pork Belly
To follow most of us chose the baked fillet of halibut with potato puree, creamed leeks, baby spinach and clam vinaigrette. The fish was cooked to perfection, the potato puree was smooth and the clam vinaigrette gave it a very distinct flavour. I thought it was fabulous though one of the girls found the clam vinaigrette a little strong for her but she still ate it all! The staff were also very accommodating as one of the girls was unable to eat the puree so instead accompanied it with lots of veggies.

Baked Fillet of Halibut
Halibut and Veggies
Next up were the desserts which were a thing of beauty. They looked so pretty we almost didn't want to eat them ... almost! I chose the lemon curd tart with Italian meringue and raspberry puree. It was a great dessert though the lemon curd was a little too sweet for me as I generally like it to be fairly tart. The sweetness was offset by the raspberries though.

Lemon Curd Tart
The next dessert was the Banana and Toffee parfait with buttered pecan ice cream. My friend enjoyed it except for the spun sugar topping which she thought was a bit of a contrast with the base and a little too crunchy.

Banana and Toffee Parfait
The last dessert that arrived at the table was the coconut macaroon mousse with lemongrass and lime sorbet. This was a delicious mousse which was wonderfully coconutty! The lemongrass and lime sorbet complemented it extremely well and I wished I had chosen her dessert. Unfortunately my friend found the flavours a bit too overwhelming for her. So while the desserts looked fabulous they didn't quite deliver the same results for us as the wonderful starters and mains. 

Coconut macaroon mousse
To finish off tea and coffee was offered though I went straight for the cocktails menu. The Exchange have the 2013 National Cocktail competition on their team, Deirdre Byrne, so expectations were high. First off I tried the Rhubarb & Vanilla Pisco Sour. This was Rhubarb and vanilla infused Pisco, lemon juice, simple syrup, pasteurised egg white and Amargo bitters. I had never heard of Pisco before but my friend informed me that it a Peruvian spirit. The cocktail had a lovely kick and wasn't too bitter. Next up was the Queen of Hearts. This had to be the cutest cocktail I have ever come across! I am a sucker for anything that comes in a china cup so to have a cocktails served in one was fantastic. The Queen of Hearts was made with Absolut 100 vodka, St Germain elderflower liqueur, blackcurrant and hibiscus iced Jing tea. It had a unique taste and I think that is down to the Jing tea.It was however, a little too sweet for me. After sending it round the table my friend loved it so much she ordered one of her own!

The Queen of Hearts
The Exchange is a wonderful restaurant. It oozes five star glamour and the food matches up to this. The cocktails are among the most unique I have ever come across and I will definitely be visiting again to try out the Mint Bar and a few more cocktails on the list. Next time I'm going for the Rum Old Fashioned and it's served in an ice rock - I am so intrigued!!

The meal cost us 30 euros each with the Dine in Dublin menu. It is substantially more expensive normally, though there is a good value early bird which is two courses for 19.50 or three courses for 24.50. To check out the menu click here. The Exchange offers a taste of a five star lifestyle and I think it's one I could get used to. Now I'm off to do my lotto numbers!! 

Exchange on Urbanspoon