Gastro pubs aren’t the only type of Dublin restaurants offering a modern spin on Irish cuisine. The in-house restaurant at the stylish Marker Hotel, opened last April in the Docklands neighborhood (and opposite the Daniel Libeskind-designed Bord Gáis Energy Theater), bills itself as “contemporary Irish.” The setting certainly reflects that: The dining room, just off the lobby, is set underneath a slanted ceiling of irregularly placed five-foot panels — an almost cubist approach to restaurant design.
The menu, from the chef Gareth Mullins, nicely balances two strengths of Irish cuisine: surf and turf. As at L. Mulligan Grocer, the Brasserie serves black pudding croquettes (the Brasserie’s are from Tommy Doherty in County Meath), a dish Mr. Mullins brought over from his last kitchen stint, at the Cellar Bar in the Merrion Hotel. While I was tempted, I figured one dose of black pudding was enough for this week. Instead, I started with a beetroot soup, with caramelized onions and spinach ricotta balls bobbing in the subtle, translucent-red broth. The lamb fillet, a few small pieces of delicate, fork-tender meat accompanied by an eggplant purée, combined Irish ingredients with a Middle Eastern taste profile. I usually avoid ordering scallops when they’re paired with another element that might eclipse their natural flavor. But in this case, the shallow pool of butternut squash purée that they were wading in complemented the briny taste of the scallops.
The Irish like to claim their beef is the best in the world. The Brasserie’s rib-eye, cooked medium rare, proved a persuasive argument. The meat had a melt-in-the-mouth interior that paired well with a surprisingly oaky Rioja crianza. My dining companion loved the roasted venison, which had a vague but not unpleasant gamy taste.