The big story this week is how much Lucinda O'Sullivan loved Sole, the new, high-end seafood restaurant on Wicklow Street, after it was panned by Tom Doorley in The Daily Mail and Gillian Nelis in the Sunday Business Post. They both took exception to the amount of imported seafood and the eye-popping prices, but LOS had no problem paying €47.50 for a plate of "perfectly grilled" Dover Sole, and didn't blink at a seafood platter for €110.
There's a touch of the 'fangirl' about it, with owners described as the same people behind the "oh-so-fabulous Fire", the much criticised Norweigan crab called the "mighty denizens of the deep", and "fantastic" Coquilles St Jacques, described as "a plumpous duo of scallop shells filled to their pretty frilled edges", costing €35. Compared to Tom Doorley's description of the same dish, with a sauce "the consistency of milk", and "under-seasoned, under-buttered" mash, we can only suggest that maybe they've bucked up since then. We heard on the grapevine that another critic paid Sole a visit during the week, so we'll wait to see what side they're on. (Review not currently online)
Another talking point this week was Catherine Cleary who went to probably one of the country's best restaurants right now, Clenaghan's, and only drank fizzy water. Surely there should be a ban on reviewing a meal if you don't try the wine? Maybe budgets at the Irish Times' are tighter than we thought.
Despite the lack of liquid refreshment, Clenaghan's is currently top of her list for meal of the year - imagine how good it would have been with booze! The food reminded her of when she first fell in love with restaurant dining in rural France, and every dish she describes sounds magical. "Quail’s eggs cloaked in sausage meat and bread crumbed and cooked so that a bright yellow yolk slides out of the “wee scotch eggs” like a kitchen conjuring trick". "Properly impressive goat and beet, the cheese in curd form so it’s still almost liquid and gossamer delicate in flavour, a whisper of goat rather than the usual holler." "A slab of garlic bread, the quennelle of green pesto on top made from the softest wild garlic on top of a buttery slice of toast." There may have been a late night dial to Clenaghan's last night to enquire about accommodation availability. Read her review here.
In the Irish Examiner, Leslie Williams was at Glovers Alley having a very similar experience to us (you can read our take here). He too was underwhelmed by the first taste of a Parmesan Gougère, but loved the Jerusalem artichokes with winter truffle - "a genius masterclass on what you can do with a humble root vegetable", Comeragh Mountain Lamb with "the purest most perfect ‘Irish Stew’ I’ve ever tasted", and "silky exuberant Coconut Rice with Cream Cheese wafer, Sake and Yoghurt Ice-cream", which was "extraordinarily good". He ends by saying it's not perfect but has touches of perfection. Read his review here.