Neighbourhood Dining That's A Steal In Harold's Cross
Lisa Cope - 5th August 2020
What’s the story?
Craft opened in February 2016, and was immediately touted as the neighbourhood restaurant Harold's Cross had badly needed. Head chef/owner Philip Yeung had previously been head chef at Town Bar & Grill (remember the boom?) and Bang on Merrion Row, and a string of glowing reviews for his first solo opening followed, with Catherine Cleary in the Irish Times calling the Dublin 6 suburb "a better place to be thanks to the arrival of Craft."
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The starter was a plate of heirloom tomatoes, burrata, charred peach and smoked almond pesto - ideal summer eating (for a grey, rainy evening in July). There were little dried tomatoes in amongst the mix, which added bursts of flavour in every other forkful, but we thought the whole thing needed more seasoning, which they brought on request.
What's the food like?
We came for the neighbourhood menu (only served on Thursdays), as we figure a lot of people are probably looking for maximum bang for their buck right now, between job losses, pay cuts and many businesses in unknown territory after the past few months. It’s a very good deal at €27 for two courses and €32 for three, but there only a choice of mains so you wouldn't want to be a fussy eater or have too many dietary requirements – they do cater for veggies though and one main will always be meat-free.
Our main was a meaty piece of expertly cooked Kilkeel hake with a prawn tortellini (whose filling was more mousse-like than fluffy fresh prawn), an intense pea purée, fresh peas, chard and a foaming shellfish sauce. Again it felt perfectly suited to the time of year, and like the kitchen is giving serious consideration to what we might want to eat on any given week. It was also light enough to ensure we were looking forward to (rather than holding our stomachs at the thought of) a chocolate dessert.
Where should we sit?
There’s a front and a back room, but we’d probably opt to sit in the front as it feels a bit brighter and airier. We did however spot a couple with a young baby in the back and thought it was perfectly suited to a bit more privacy. There are only five tables in the front post-Covid, all adequately spaced, and the two in the window are ideal if you’re an avid people watcher.
What about the drinks?
The wine list is very short with few options by the glass – maybe Covid-related – and we thought it was in need of an injection of interest. Perhaps they’re trying to cater for the locals with tried and tested options. We did think the prosecco was unusually good – to the point where we questioned if it might have been something more upmarket like a Crémant, and a Kir Royal was a perfect aperitif.
And the service?
Staff were all masked and very welcoming and friendly. The food came out at nice intervals, and the open kitchen appeared entirely calm.
The following year they got the news that they'd been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand for 2018, given to restaurants that Michelin deem good quality and good value - for Ireland it must be €40 or under for three courses - and held onto it for 2019 but lost it for 2020. It was a year of shock deletions, with Etto, Bastible, Forest & Marcy, The Pig's Ear and Delahunt all losing their Bib too, so we didn't pay too much heed and presumed it might be more to do with menu pricing than food quality for most places. Luckily it hasn't seemed to make any dent in their customer base, who mostly seem to be locals, delighted to have something like this on their doorstep, when so many other suburbs don't.
The neighbourhood menu at Craft offers serious bang for your buck, with a three course meal for two and a bottle of wine easily coming in at under €100. We have a feeling it’s not the kitchen’s best work, but it’s more than solid cooking, and even more reason to go back for the Friday and Saturday tasting menu at €52 for four courses (including snacks). If value for money is your top priority right now when it comes to eating out, the neighbourhood menu is a great dive into Craft at a not so great price.
With the fish came a side of crunchy, fluffy potatoes (they've thought of everything), but just two each, so again not enough to steer you into uncomfortable tummy territory. For a set menu that already felt like good value, the main really pushed it into the "this is a bit of a steal" category.
Dessert was "chocolate mousse and raspberry", with various elements of each - an airy mousse, a crispy chocolate cracker, a raspberry sorbet, fresh raspberries, raspberry sauce and what looked and tasted like puffed rice. It was a nice mix of richness and freshness, and the chocolate tasted dark enough so as not to veer into sugar overload territory.
We started with seedy, treacle brown bread and Glenilen Farm butter, dense and crunchy enough to fill the hungry gap until the food proper started to arrive.
208 Harold’s Cross Road, Harold's Cross, Dublin 6W.
Thu 18:00 – 21:30. Fri – Sat 17:30 – 21:30. Sun 12:00 - 15:15.
Ph: 01 4978632