This Week's Critic Reviews
There were lots of happy critics tapping away on their keyboards this week, with some surprisingly positive reviews. It looks like the spate of new restaurant openings which has everyone in a panic isn't adversely affect the quality of the food across the city - might we even suggest it could improve things?
This week it's the turn of Catherine Cleary in The Irish Times to give her verdict on The Ivy, and while we would have thought that everything about the deafeningly decorated place stands in opposition to Cleary's very core, she gives it a half decent review. We were expecting something more along the lines of Conor Stevens' epic takedown in last week's Totally Dublin (a must-read for amusement's sake if nothing else).
She describes it as looking like a "country pile inherited by the party animal", and thought the loos had more atmosphere than the dining room. Starters of scallops and asparagus were enjoyable if for a few faults, but the signature shepherd's pie was "a little bigger than a saucer", lacking in meat, and "eats like the Thursday night staple in a Kensington nursing home" - and just like that she's back.
Another main of blackened cod was overcooked and overwhelmed by a sticky sauce, and desserts included a "fine" strawberry ice cream sundae, and a cappuccino cake that was a "funny mix" of chocolate cake, boozy milk mousse and coffee sauce, all competing with rather than complimenting each other. She says they enjoyed it (despite the 6/10 score), but that the food won't be enough to distract you from the gossip and people watching. Read her review here.
Another team breathing a sigh of relief yesterday was the one at The Grayson (the new opening from Press Up, formerly private members club Residence), after Lucinda O'Sullivan in the Sunday Independent gave it a surprisingly firm thumbs up. Press Up have been panned for their food offerings in the past, with most reviewers commenting that what was on the plates didn't live up to the expensive fit outs, so maybe they're starting to take note.
She was clearly taken with the space, particularly the "splendid winding staircase","colourful cocktail bar" and "glorious view over St Stephen's Green", and the "serious ... delicious" food lived up to the
surroundings. Sesame seared tuna was "quite perfect", pan-fried scallop was "exquisitely delicate", and fried halibut was "superb". Pan-fried gnocchi was "light as a feather", and sides were "excellent", including tempura courgettes with chili mayo. Courgettes, according to Lucinda, are "hot right now" because they're a favourite of Meghan Markle. So now you know.
Dessert of ice-cream and sorbet, and a slightly dull sounding (but apparently not tasting) cheeseboard completed the meal, and they left before the music got too loud. It will be interesting to see if other critics share her enthusiasm. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Examiner Leslie Williams is at L'Ecrivain (where he reckons he's eaten 40 times, wonder if there's a a loyalty scheme), which has been in business for an incredible 28 years. We've been wondering what's happening with L'Ecrivain, as for a Michelin-starred restaurant we don't hear much about it. It's certainly not attracting the instagram brigade, which might be something to do with their own social media feeds, which can be ever so slightly lacking in the cool factor.
He calls it deserving of its categorisation as "a classic" of the Dublin dining scene, and everything from the "nutty, dark Guinness bread", to the "perfectly caramelised scallop" amuse-bouche, to a starter of lollipop chicken wings with langoustine and sweetcorn were "perfect", "balanced" and "fun". A palate cleanser of mint and lime granita was "pitch perfect", but the main courses were the dishes of the night.
Both perfectly seared Magret Duck and Spring Lamb Rump came with in season girolle mushrooms and expert saucing - very important to LW. They also came with other lovely sounding things like confit croquettes and parmesan gnocchi. Desserts of peach mousse and yoghurt parfait followed the same theme - deliciousness - and he ends by saying, "classic and all the positive connotations of that word tell you all you need to know." Read his review here.
Another winner winner chicken dinner (literally) in the Irish Daily Mail, where Tom Doorley was lunching in Pichet. This is their second review in a few months after Katy McGuinness visited in June, and while her verdict was that the food "pleases rather than thrills", Tom's is far more doe-eyed. The food was "ace", the pace "faultless", and overall they were "enchanted" - and it does all sound rather dreamy.
An amuse-bouche of tuna and watermelon with soya and sesame was "beautiful", although we're wondering if an amuse-bouche is a normal part of the lunch deal or a Tom Doorley special. A mushroom risotto with goat's cheese croquettes was "perfect in texture", and salt cod beignets with chorizo mayonnaise were as good as they sound.
Roast, organic salmon was perfectly cooked, and the free-range chicken, which came with shallot purée, sage and white turnips, tasted of "actual chicken", which is a depressing compliment perfectly
illustrating the current state of the food industry. Îles flottantes, that rarely seen French dessert, was "etheral, heavenly", and a crème brûlée espresso was "perfect". We're getting the feeling he ran out of superlatives by the time coffee came. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Independent, Katy McGuinness admits to having a deep-fried kimchi addiction, after finding it at newly opened ramen bar Soup in Dun Laoghaire. She calls it "a thing of beauty", "coated in a light batter of perfection", and suggests that you focus on the health benefits of fermented foods and eating your vegetables. We're convinced.
The ramen itself is "pretty good", but there's a general air of suspicion about all of the meat and eggs because there's no provenance anywhere (and she seems pretty sure that the meat isn't organic or free-range). The tonkotsu pork is "super tasty", but the miso broth bland. The shoryu broth is better, but the grilled chicken it comes with "lacked flavour".
Portions are "enormous", and she gives the food 7/10, but we imagine this would have been a solid 8 if she'd been assured of what kind of life the meat in question had. (Read her review here)
In The Sunday Business Post, Gillian Nelis finds hits and a few misses at newly-opened Portugese Galito in Bray (read that here), and in The Sunday Times, Ernie Whalley has a similar experience at newly opened Indian Ruchii in Blackrock, which he compares to a British curry house - take that as you will. You can read that here.
More next week.