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Chef-proprietor Ross Lewis and his partner, restaurant manager Martin Corbett, operate this superb restaurant in an elegantly furnished basement beneath the Dublin Writers' Museum and near The Gate Theatre, one of the many Dublin theatres - which you can visit after your main course and return later for dessert and coffee.
The restaurant has great character, with understated modern decor providing a nice contrast to its underlying rusticity; arches create three main areas, of which one is an exceptionally welcoming reception/bar.
Ross and Martin have built up a terrific kitchen and front of house teams who work together brilliantly to ensure that a visit to Chapter One is always a special occasion: this is a place where hospitality comes first and all the little niceties of a seriously good meal are observed from the moment you taste that complimentary amuse-bouche to the last petit four.
Ross, who is the current Commissioner General of Euro-Toques - the international chefs' association dedicated to defending quality produce - has recently been joined by another exceptional chef, Garrett Byrne (previously at Brunos of Kildare Street), making this Dublin's culinary "super team".
Impeccably sourced ingredients have always been at the heart of this superb kitchen, where classic French cooking is lightly tempered with modern influences to produce dazzling meals of great creativity and unrivalled technical excellence. Menus are strongly seasonal and invariably bring an agony of choice; on the evening a la carte, for instance, there are eight equally desirable starters - but also the irresistible option of the charcuterie trolley, which is brought to your table, offering half a dozen superb dishes ranging from West Cork ham with celeriac & mustard, or terrine of wild boar with apple & horseradish compote to lamb tongue sauce gribiche, pig trotter boudin, with red wine & raisin jus, and a selection of West Cork salamis.
Fortunately there is a wonderfully comfortable reception / bar area where you can take the time to ponder the good things offered (and a wine list to match), for the main courses will also bring out the indecisive in most guests: poultry and meat dishes (also game in season) may include several superb slow-cooked dishes - loin of lamb with slow-cooked shoulder, brioche dumpling & rosemary, perhaps, or slow roast breast of duck with confit leg, red onion & beetroot compote, glazed endive and, while four or five equally tempting fish dishes might include a fricassee of lobster (with summer vegetables, gnocchi, garlic and port, EUR45).
An exceptional selection of cheeses (invariably in perfect condition) is also offered and classic desserts - including a luscious apricot, coffee and amaretto trifle (with a glass of champagne, perhaps) that should be enough to bring that much-maligned treat back into fashion - round off the occasion in style.
An excellent, informative wine list continues to develop; like everything else at Chapter One, it reflects an unstuffy philosophy of accessible quality, with many fairly priced treats for the wine buff - and also carefully selected house wines and wines by the glass, including a range of dessert wines.
Chapter One was our Restaurant of the Year in 2001, reflecting the consistently memorable dining experience of that time - and (as we say every year) it just goes on getting better. GC
Chapter One was awarded a Michelin Star for its cooking in 2007 (one of six Dublin restaurants to be so recognised ).
Text by Georgina Campbell, reproduced with kind permission.
Visit her website on http://www.ireland-guide.com/