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This Week's Critic Reviews


Just when you thought you'd seen the last of them, they're back. Catherine Cleary is critic six of the featured seven to visit the scary Norwegian crabs at Sole. After four other reviews ranging from lukewarm to complete annihilation (and a single gushing endorsement from Lucinda O'Sullivan), we can only imagine their faces when the ice queen herself walked in - batten down the hatches and say your prayers territory - but she was surprisingly nice about the expensive, imported seafood.

She describes the menu's opening essay about Ireland having some of the best seafood in the world as "all that fish-frottaging stuff that small places like the Fish Shops on Queen St and Benburb St and the Klaw mini empire have been doing for a while now but dressed up in a posh room", before turning the page to see Mediterranean-farmed sea bass as one of the menu's main dishes. Strike one. She calls their self-titled inclusion of “unique flavours from global waters” a "having-your-cake-and-eating-it approach to food from the sea."

Despite this she enjoyed two "terrific dishes", even if the standard did go through "more dips than a night ferry in a storm." Fat, juicy, tiger prawns had been expertly charred and tasted like they'd come off a beach barbecue, and a whole brill roasted in butter was the star of the night, its flesh "virtually confited, pulling away from its spiney web of bone sweet and juicy as good chicken." Lobster cakes (below) had nice lobster meat but too much dill, and a half lobster was one of the smallest she'd ever seen in a restaurant.

Seabass was "expertly fried" with crisp skin and came with tempura oysters ("the nicest mouthfuls on the plate") and blue potatoes ("which look good but taste about as special as supermarket roosters"). A side of broccoli and black garlic was bitter, with a "mushroomy honk that someone at the table likens to licking a mouldy shower wall." Yum. She ends by saying that "Sole is an encouraging sign that one of our best raw ingredients is finally being given pride of place", and that she hopes they'll get into the swing of things. Can't help thinking it could have been a lot worse. Read her review here.

In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness was at Fowl Play, the open-fire barbecue joint at the back of The Square Ball pub on Hogan Street which always seems to be filled with rugby players. Run by Trev O'Shea and Andy Noonan, the guys behind the Big Grill Festival, and billed as Dublin's "only dedicated live fire chicken joint", we feel like this one's been creeping up lately, with more and more people talking about it.

Katy describes how the kitchen cooks over natural charcoal and Irish oak using a wood-fired rotisserie and a smoker brought from Houston, Texas, with no gas or electricity - we're already interested. Bar snacks are "fun", with padron peppers grilled over charcoal and flavoured with preserved lemon and sea salt - "I could eat them all night". Croquetas wth smoked chicken and chorizo are "tasty" and they loved the fried pickles (frickles). Filipino-style pork belly is "sweet, sticky and delicious".

After being dissuaded from ordering "way too much" by the server - know the feeling - they went for the chicken burger and the pitmaster's platter. The burger made with boneless, free-range thighs, tomato, lettuce and Alabama white BBQ sauce on a toasted brioche bun is "fantastic, confirming that the humble thigh is really the best, most flavoursome bit of the bird".

Two flavours of chicken wings on the platter tasted great but they'd have liked crispier skin, and rotisserie chicken had good flavour but was dry. A smoked turkey dog "doesn't have a whole lot to say for itself". Sides of tenderstem broccoli with sesame seeds and slaw with crushed peanuts and a lemon yoghurt dressing are "fresh and vibrant", but fries in a house rub are "flaccid" and didn't need the "over-powering" seasoning. She calls it "a fun, unpretentious venue with food to match", and gives the food, ambience and value 8/10. Read her review here.

In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley had the only occupied table at newly opened Everett's in Waterford one Saturd