Oysters at The Shelbourne

The entrance hall of The Shelbourne from the hotel website Last night, Anne Kennedy of Greatfood.ie and I, in need of a glass of wine and some food, ended up – at her suggestion – at the newly decked out and recently reopened Shelbourne Bar in The Shelbourne on St Stephen’s Green. My memories of the old Shelbourne, admittedly after a couple of dynamite martinis in the Horseshoe Bar in the depths of winter, was of a gradually-getting-shabbier, heavy-with-tradition place. A grand old dame of Dublin, it was long overdue a facelift – although perhaps not one that went hand in hand with an American hotel chain. The Shelbourne Bar, where we ended up, is now a comfortable, light, bright L-shaped room on the left as you enter the hotel.

As we entered, Anne, with unerring ability, steered our way to the only empty table in a busy bar. Menus weren’t long in arriving but we didn’t look too far after seeing the oysters on offer. We ordered two each of the four types on the menu (and I forgot to take note of their names!), at €2.50 a piece, along with a couple of glasses of viognier (€8). Two platters arrived, with the fresh, plump, grey oysters sitting on the half shell, on top of crushed ice and some decorative seaweed. A little dish of shallot-rich Mignotte Sauce was at the centre of each platter, with a few lemon segments on the side.

We had ordered the four different types of oysters in order to compare, contrast and decide on our favourites; unfortunately when they arrived the waitress did not know the difference between the varieties so I’m not sure whether I preferred the Clair or the Belon (at least I think that’s what two of the oyster varieties were). Anne’s oysters were no sooner on the table than they disappeared. Mine – this was only the third time I had the opportunity to eat oysters – took a little longer to be savoured and swallowed. The Mignotte was too vinegary to do anything but disguise their savoury brininess but we nibbled at it afterwards as the ice melted and we finished our glasses of wine.

For oysters and a glass of wine, the Horseshoe Bar is a wonderful, and not extortionate, treat – especially for me, as Anne picked up the tab – but I’m not sure if my bank balance would survive an entire night in such salubrious surroundings. Another place to get the freshest of oysters in Dublin, along with a glass of white wine and some brown bread (now that would make a nice addition to The Shelbourne’s oyster platter), is at the Temple Bar Food Market – watch out for the stall with the stool by the Gallery of Photography on Meeting House Square on Saturdays.

The Horseshoe Bar at The Shelbourne, 27 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2. Phone: 01 6634500



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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6 Responses

  1. Lorraine says:

    I’ve read so much about the Shelbourne in the last few weeks, we’re definitely going to stay there on our next trip to the big smoke!!I hope it lives up to expectation!

  2. Caroline says:

    If you get a night there, Lorraine, you’ll have to let us know all about it! A friend of mine stayed in there a few years ago, before it was done up, and he loved it – although one of the things that I think he liked best was the old-world ambience. I’m not sure if that’s all been improved out of it at this stage, though, but the public areas certainly are luxurious!

  3. Laura says:

    My brother had his wedding reception there about 5 years ago and it was definitely a case of faded grandeur at that time (in a good way). I stayed with my mum and little one in a junior suite and indulgent is the only word that springs to mind. The bed was HUGE, the bathroom marble-lined with a shower rose the size of a dinner plate and a seperate sitting area for “reclining” prior to your evening out!Last but not least the breakfast: there’s a buffet, what else do you need?!The reception spaces look amazing in your picture so I hope they have managed to achieve a good balance between the old and new. It would make it a perfect luxury getaway.

  4. Caroline says:

    I like the idea of a place to recline before you head off for your evening out! I borrowed that photo (ahem!) from the hotel’s own website – there are a few more online here if you feel like comparing/contrasting the old and the new!

  5. Karl says:

    Is that me you’re referring to Caroline? If so then, yes, it was the olde-worlde shabby-grande ambience that thrilled me so about that historic hotel although the location, the bedroom views (autumn leaves on the Green one time and soft summer rains another), the swimming pool (who knew that was there?), the valet parking and the sumptuous breakfasts all helped along with the many cocktails in the Horseshoe Bar – I look forward to seeing the changes there with you next week maybe…

  6. Caroline says:

    My memories of the Shelbourne are indeed tied up with the night of your birthday in the Horseshoe Bar, Karl. I remember it was a grey, wintery night and I got the bus into town for martinis in the Shelbourne…from one extreme to the other!

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