This Week's Critic Reviews
There's a distinct sense of summer in this week's reviews, as if the critics knew it was going to be a scorcher of a weekend. Seafood, outdoor eating and panna cotta feature heavily.
In the Irish Times, Catherine Cleary is at Overends Kitchen for brunch, the café on the site of Airfield estate, which uses produce from their 38 acres of farmland. She's impressed with chef Luke Matthews' seasonal and sustainable approach to eating, and loves that "some of his larder is feet from the kitchen mooing, clucking and growing..."
The 'garden breakfast bowl' is a "savoury granola laced with tangy dressing", with red cabbage slaw, sprouted grains, poached eggs and long stem broccoli "that tastes so good I’d put money on it being smoked before it was charred." Half a roast chicken is "meat as it should be, tasting properly of chicken rather than random white protein." She also admires the fingerling potatoes, with "lovely waxy yellow flesh nutty enough to barely need butter, baked at such a high heat that their skins are flayed and crisp like pork crackling." It sounds like the queues she describes were worth waiting in.
Dessert of panna cotta with rhubarb is made with Jersey cream from the estate's own cows, and is "creamier than a flotilla of milk tankers". As brunch goes we're wagering this must be one of the best experiences in Dublin at the moment. Read her review here.
In the Irish Independent, Katy McGuinness was enjoying a leisurely lunch at The Garden Room in The Merrion Hotel, who offer all-day-dining - perfect for those lovely, long booze-filled Friday lunches to start the weekend off right.
She booked ahead to bag a table beside the towering floor to ceiling doors (good tip), but the temperature wasn't warm enough to warrant opening them. On a sunny summer's day it sounds like this would be an oasis in the centre of the city. Snacks and starters were generally good, with standouts being the boneless chicken wings with pistachio lardo and fontina, and beef-tartare with a quail's egg.
A luscious omelette Arnold Bennet with eggs, smoky cod and spinach teetered on the edge of being too much, and half a smoked cauliflower (anyone else over this trend?) with truffled crème fraîche and dulse is salty but works. Dessert of salted caramel tart with popcorn ice-cream and dark chocolate crumb is "perfect". We also love that they treated themselves to a nice bottle of wine instead of going for standard reviewer house (or close) fare. It's Friday people, treat yourselves. Read her review here.
In the Irish Examiner, Leslie Williams was learning how to be a hipster at Eatyard, the outdoor street food market at the side of The Bernard Shaw. He tries nearly everything on offer (thanks to going with four mates), and is very impressed with what these hipsters eat.
Chana Palak - spinach and chickpeas in a rich sauce - from Kinara Kitchen was creamy and satisfying. Cheese burgers and a chicken burger from Box Burger were tasty with good quality meat, but the highlight was Vish n' Chips from Vish Shop, as well as their famous cauliflower wings, which he calls "a genius creation". Vish Shop/Veginity founder Mark Senn has been looking for a permanent home since upping his food truck from Portobello earlier this year, so we were intrigued to see a teasing tweet earlier this week saying they had good news. Watch this space.
Read Leslie Wiliams' review of Eatyard here.
In the Sunday Independent, Lucinda O'Sullivan was dreaming of an impending holiday to France (and having a dig at those 'cool' Irish chefs who believe their own hype) at Voici Crêperie and Wine Bar in Rathmines. She loved her "lovely, square, crisp envelope" of a crêpe with St Tola goat's cheese, walnut, honey and rocket, and her friend's with Buffao mozzarella, sun-ripened tomatoes, basil pesto and basil leaves, but hated the scratched wooden boards they came on. That's one for we want plates.
She thought the atmosphere, complete with French music and Citroen facades on the walls, was fun, and earmarked the Croque-Madame for her next visit, after she saw it on leaving and nearly sat back down again. (Review not currently online)
He enjoyed hake and morcilla croquettes, pigs' trotters formed into something between a paté and charcuterie, a shoulder of lamb that was given the Mediterranean treatment, and a risotto made from buckwheat, topped with morels, asparagus and Taleggio cheese, which he calls "one of the best things I've eaten in quite a while". Dessert of an arrestingly rich chocolate mousse with Amarena cherries, and a slice of blue sheep's cheese with quince paste sound like the perfect ending to a great meal, and he calls the accompanying wines by the glass "outstanding". (Review not currently online)
The only one outside the capital this week, Gillian Nelis in The Sunday Business Post was in Merry's Gastro Pub in Dungarvan, after her plan of exploring the greenway was foiled by a heavy downpour of rain. She tells us Merry's is an incredible 150 years in business, and says it's "the kind of room you’d love to be forced to spend time in, with its traditional wooden bar, open fire and lovely friendly staff."
Small plates were a mixed bag, with mushrooms on bruschetta containing grit and beef croquettes not tasting much of beef, but barbeque pork ribs "fell off the bone and were really delicious". Falafel with charred corn, pickled red cabbage and mixed leaves was "a generous and healthy lunch", fish and chips was "worth every calorie" with a "perfectly crispy batter" and "top-notch chips", and the lamb burger was "messy, delicious and large".
A knickerbocker glory for dessert was "pleasingly retro", and a warm toffee and apple pie with custard and cream "gorgeous". She calls the service superb and the atmosphere lovely and warm, and ends by saying time spent here would make you very merry indeed... *face palm*. Read her review here (subscription only).
We're taking a break from the critic's reviews next week - holidaze. Back in two weeks.
* 1st August 2018 - A previous version of this article featured Ernie Whalley's review for the Sunday Times. This has been removed at the newspaper's request