RTE's The Restaurant - My Experience as a Diner!

For many years I have wanted to be one of the diners at RTE's The Restaurant. Having applied many times this year was the first time I had the detailed phone interview with Lisa- a researcher with RTE. At first, I was slightly nervous but I soon realised that I could answer any of Lisa's questions and by the end of the telephone conversation I felt like I was merely having a chat with someone who shared a passion for food. She has the difficult job of combing through thousands of applicants to find 32 diners for each show. Maitre'D John made us aware of how lucky we were to be 'the chosen ones'!

Here I am with my fellow diners my sisters Fiona and Dervilla. Before we got near a dinner menu we were seated in the lounge area of The Wineport where wine was free-flowing. Unfortunately, we were one of the last tables to get seated so we had almost 2 1/2 hours here. We didn't mind as we were excited about the prospect of getting seated and the time passed easily by chatting with other diners and watching the crew putting everything in its place for the show!

John Healy, the Maitre'D, giving the diners advise on what to say and more importantly not to say while on camera. His relaxed nature was quite calming for any that were beginning to feel a little 'camera shy'! His good humour and witty comments had everyone in stitches!

I must say that I wasn't terribly impressed with my meal but I wasn't disappointed either. We knew that the show was being filmed as a cook-off. On reading the menu we were sure that it must be a 3-star cook-off but after having the meal we were more convinced that it could be a 2-star cook-off. To our amazement(and the critics) it was a 5-star cook-off. However, there were some good elements to the menu. Amanda Brunker (pictured below) was one of the chefs and even though her menu didn't win, our table actually preferred her choice of dishes. Her starter of scallops was fairly standard but delicious none the less! I enjoyed her Beef and Guinness Pie but again it wasn't extraordinary however I found her Mille Feuille dessert with Rhubarb and custard served with a ginger ice-cream overly sweet.

Fintan O' Toole was the other celebrity chef and even though he won the cook-off I would find it hard to compliment any aspects of his menu. He served his butternut squash soup (which was fairly nice) with game livers on toast. I'm neither a fan of game or livers and served this way would not encourage me to eat either in the future! His main was smoked mackerel and pork belly with beetroot and horseradish- all perfectly fine but it wasn't a combination that I particularly liked. Fintan's dessert was a baked Toblerone cheesecake which sounds luscious but I found it to be fairly flavourless.
Even though we weren't blown away by the food the whole experience was fantastic. The staff and the team behind The Restaurant were all so friendly and each was eager to make sure all diners were enjoying their night out. It certainly would make one would feel like they were in a very well run restaurant and not on a television set!

It was a real pleasure to meet Tom Doorley. He was warm and eager to engage in conversation with any interested diners. Earlier that week he had sent out a tweet looking for a recommendation for lunch. I suggested that he and Paulo should try The Fatted Calf in Glasson. This charming restaurant also impressed Tom and Paulo and both gave The Fatted Calf rave reviews in that weekends' papers.

Louise Lennox is as bubbly and friendly off camera as she appears on camera even after a long day in the kitchen. For a lady who self admittedly loves her desserts she is tiny!!!!

If you missed the show it will be on RTE Player until January 19th - The Restaurant- 5 star Cook Off

RTE accept applications all year round and contact the lucky diners a few weeks before filming. If you would like the chance to enjoy a meal at The Restaurant CLICK HERE and submit an entry. Good Luck!!!


Brownieville Girl said...

Sounds fantastic Nessa - I'm off to see you on the RTE Player!

Nessa Robins said...

Oh well don't blink!! I was barely seen:)

Gillian said...

I always wondered what it would be like to be a diner. Great to read your experience - Thanks for sharing. Have to say I thought Amanda was robbbed :-(

Nessa Robins said...

Thanks Gillian- yeah we were very surprised that she didn't win! You show send in an application I'm sure they will be filming in the spring- i'd recommend it as a great night out!!

Anonymous said...

what was you view on the beef pie. what cut of beef was it.

jack mc carthy said...

sorry. it was a special cut of beef amd was not noticed by anyone. i produced it specially.jack mc carthy

Nessa Robins said...

The beef in the pie was really delicious and full of flavour. We commented on every aspect of the meal(good and bad) and it wasn't all aired!! So I expect there were many that also noted and enjoyed the beef but alas not all comments were heard.
By the way what was the special cut of beef?