There’s a general feeling of dissatisfaction amongst the reviews this week, with even the mainly positive ones having plenty to nit-pick about. From “ill-conceived” dishes to servers “stressed to the point of exhaustion”, there appears to be room for improvement across the board. Maybe the unusually good weather has been throwing a few kitchens off focus, or maybe it's a result of the city's chronic chef shortage.
The most disappointed of the lot was Tom Doorley, who was at newly revamped gastropub Doyle's Corner in Phibsborough for the Irish Daily Mail. From the slates, wooden boards and "awful little saucepans" in place of plates and bowls, to the lamb dish that made him repeatedly ask "why?", it's clear why he calls the experience "a gastro pain".
Ham hock and Gubbeen croquettes didn't taste of Gubbeen, the lamb breast in question was cooked poorly and served with the inexplicable accompaniments of prune and orange, and pork belly was "tough" with an over-reduced jus and "toffee apple" that could have been a dessert. Thankfully the mash was "good gastropub stuff".
Oxtail lasagne "wasn't bad" (high praise) but he felt the tomato sauce had been rushed. Pannacotta came in a jar (why?) and was "passable", and while he was relieved that a passion fruit cheesecake came in an actual bowl instead of on a wooden board, it was too sweet.
A final cheeseboard was in good condition and the best part of the meal, and he calls the service "utterly charming". Can't see him racing back. (Review not currently online)
Things were going better for Katy McGuinness who's been biding her time before paying Glovers Alley a visit for the Irish Independent. After a recap of the “clumsy” launch and “Irish begrudgery” that followed, she details the seven-course tasting menu.
Snacks were “gorgeous”, particularly the crisp chicken skin topped with taramasalata, “a brilliant explosion of texture and flavour”, a Parmesan and black olive bread roll was “deeply savoury and quite excellent”, and the smoked cheddar dumplings were “punchy and original”.
Less impressive was the beef tartare which was “curiously lacking in flavour”, and a dish of scallop, pig’s head, onion bhaji, curry and coriander which was “ill-conceived”. A pre-dessert of grapefruit granita with sheep’s yoghurt was delicate and restrained, and they finished with “the prettiest tart” of strawberries, lime leaf, olive oil, Thai basil and meringue, followed by “delightful” petit fours.