The Russell, Dublin 1952
A fish gently plucks a harp and a string section of musically-minded prawns creates a gorgeous little seafood quartet in this delicately drawn vintage menu cover illustration from The Russell in Dublin, Ireland.
Established in the 1880s on St Stephen’s Green, the Russell Hotel started life as part of Ireland’s temperance movement. But by 1927 it was fully licenced, and in 1947 the Besson family took it over. This marked a move towards haute cuisine, which would see The Russell restaurant become a high-water mark of Irish gastronomy.
Under Besson the hotel’s board of directors included veterans of the Ritz and the Savoy among other storied venues. Under a deal with local unions, the Russell’s owners agreed to train up Irish talent in exchange for hiring prize-winning French chefs such as Pierre Rolland.
As of 1958, only three members of the kitchen – out of 22 in total – were foreign, with all the rest being Irish. These chefs would go on to train and inspire successive generations of Irish chefs in the art of haute cuisine.
The first Irish Egon Ronay guide in 1963 gave The Russell three stars, and described it as “one of the best restaurants in the world”. In 1974 it was the first and only Dublin restaurant to receive a Michelin star – but sadly the Russell Hotel closed that same year.
Courtesy The Culinary Institute of America Menu Collection
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