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FrontRunners: Cellar Shelter

Karen Cakebread

When we first visited Dublin’s Merrion Hotel (+353.1.603.0600, www.merrionhotel.com) in the pages of Robb Report, it was 1998. The hotel had just opened to universal accolades, and our writer was effusive: “The discreet and ever-so-tranquil Merrion . . . delivers the highest standards of service,” making it “Ireland’s hotel of choice.” The Merrion has indeed lived up to its initial promise. Georgian elegance imbues in every facet of the hotel, and its Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud is the only Michelin two-star restaurant in Ireland.

To inspect the newest offering under the Merrion roof, you will need to go to the cellar. The Cellar Restaurant, which opened in March, taps into the cocooning desires of the world-weary. With its vaulted ceiling and warm tones, the Cellar is a more casual alternative to the dining room upstairs. Simple and fresh Irish fare is the order of the day, with such comfort foods as salmon cakes, braised shank of lamb, and warm rhubarb jalousie.

“Oscar Wilde famously said that simple pleasures are the last refuge of the complex, and that’s exactly the feel we want to achieve with the Cellar Restaurant,” says Peter MacCann, general manager of the Merrion. In these complex and unsettling times, a trip to the Cellar for a helping of fish and chips with “mushy peas” and some fine libation sounds like the next best thing to Mum’s hugs.

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