This Week's Critic Reviews
After last week's ups and down, we're back on more even footing this week, although with pretty much everywhere (one exception) being classified as "good BUT"...
Katy McGuinness in The Irish Independent reviews Bread 41, the new bakery and café on Pearse St. With limited food options (but a serious buzz) we weren't expecting a full on newspaper review, so were pleasantly surprised to get the full lowdown on the menu. After a fear-inducing (but necessary) explanation of what exactly your processed, plastic-covered sliced-pan contains, she says that the star of the show was a "flaky, buttery" sausage roll, with a prosciutto and cheese croissant "pretty damn fine also" (we've already heard enough).
Blood pudding spread on a thick slice of toast was the winner from the official lunch offerings, and the porchetta sandwich won out over the veggie option of goat's cheese, beetroot, carrots and horseradish, but she was not a fan of the salad, with "too much grain", "dull vegetables" and "greige" colours. She calls it "a bargain for food of this quality", just stick to the bread and pastries. (Review not currently online but should be soon here)
In the Irish Daily Mail, Tom Doorley reviews Crow St, the new Irish/American soul food (their words) restaurant in Temple Bar, on the former site of Nick Munier's Avenue. He finds it confused, with "multicultural" tacos containing braised pork shoulder, chipotle aioli and pickled cabbage - not usually found in Mexico - but he liked them. Another starter of smokies, with smoked fish, cheese and cream was "grand" - the most Irish of compliments.
A special of seatrout was perfectly cooked, unlike the underdone, chalky beetroot risotto it came with,
and while buttermilk chicken (above) was "pleasant enough" it was let down by the fact that it was white meat. We're a bit confused by this, as the publicity shot (above) is definitely showing a thigh and a leg. Did they start with dark meat and change to much less flavoursome breast meat due to customer complaints? Strange one. The kimchi it came with was "almost apologetic", but thankfully not the worst he's had, and again we're confused because again in the PR shot it seems to come with red cabbage.
A sticky toffee pudding was "damn good", staff were "utterly delightful" and he says he hopes Crow Street grows up soon. (Review not currently online)
In The Irish Examiner Leslie Williams is throwing his opinion into the ring on new Mexican taqueria Masa (from the guys behind Bunsen). Reviews on this one have been mixed (read ours here), but Leslie liked it. A discount on the bill made up for delays with the food, and there were no complaints about tortilla chips with "proper guacamole", patatas bravas (except for a few burnt edges) and a "properly firmed" quesadilla with mushrooms.
When it came to the tacos, he thought they were the correct thickness and texture (sounds like we might need to go back), and both beef and chicken tacos were good (despite the overcooked chicken - salsa helps it slip down apparently). Churros with goat's milk caramel were "wonderfully good", and he says Masa is serving some of the best value and tastiest food in the country - which made us go "WOOOAAAHHH" - that is a bold statement. Read his review here.
In The Irish Times, Catherine Cleary visited Restaurant Chestnut in West Cork, and allows Rob Krawczyk and Elaine Fleming's review record to continue unblemished. She says RC puts many city restaurants to shame, and that it's the kind of place that can keep rural Ireland relevant. Bread with smoked butter is "gorgeous", and snacks sound delicious, with the exception of beef tartare wrapped in gelled tomato that's not "tomato-y or tartare-y enough".
The dish of the night was a tapioca and mussel bowl with seaweed, a scallop and cauliflower dish had a "clever temperature thing going on", and she allowed them a pass on serving a palate cleansing sorbet because it had gin and cucumber in it (which is confusing as we thought she didn't drink). Hake had "butter crisp skin", lamb came with fat almost more delicious than the meat, and desserts included strawberries and celery ice, and a blackberry and cookie crumble with a sabayon. They finished with a cube of Young Buck cheese with honey and pollen, and we finished by checking our calendar for the next available opportunity to go to West Cork. Read her review here.
In the Sunday Independent, Lucinda O'Sullivan revisits The Forge in Co. Meath, whose kitchen has been taken over by a new chef, and says she left disappointed, although her gripes seem to be mainly with the curtains, the tablecloths and the general clutter (also the artificial flowers, the temperature, the upholstery, the paint...). Starters of seafood tagliatelle and a crab roll were "unmemorable", and she suspected a chilli dressing was of the commercial-variety, despite the addition of diced mango.
From the mains ("a carnivore's delight"), a special of hake with garlic mash and prawns, and lamb rump with kale, carrots and lamb gravy were a definite step up. Desserts of rice pudding with strawberries and a "very nice" white chocolate fool with raspberries got the thumbs up too, but they were unimpressed that chocolates that were supposed to accompany their coffee never arrived - no word on whether they actually asked for them or just sit there scowling. She seems to have found it all a bit heavy and fusty, but some of the food descriptions sound really good (e.g pork rib-eye steak with black pudding sausage roll, pork scratchings and mustard sauce), and despite her decor issues we quite want to visit. (Review not currently online)
In The Sunday Business Post, Gillian Nelis reviews The Gables in Foxrock, where she loved chef Simon Williams' flavoursome food and commitment to Irish produce (read that here), and in The Sunday Times, Ernie Whalley also visits Crow Street, and has a similarly mixed experienced to Tom Doorley, with some dishes better than others. Read that here.
More next week.