We've got the full gamut of food in this week's reviews, from Michelin-starred fine dining to noisy, tablecloth-less fried chicken joints, but almost everything gets the seal of approval from the critics, with just one "confused" exception.
In The Irish Independent, Katy McGuinness paid a timely visit to The Greenhouse on Dawson St, just ahead of Michelin day. In case you're not aware, the 2019 Michelin stars are being announced
tomorrow, and there's been a long-standing conversation between food writers from here and abroad, that The Greenhouse deserves a second star. Less than 24 hours and we'll know if Michelin agrees, but Katy certainly does.
She gives the food and value a rare 10/10, despite the bill coming to just over €300 for two, and the
only thing she didn't like was the "verging-on-frumpy" room - chef Mickael Vilijanen should "have a room that's as cool as he is". She floated through the six-course tasting menu, highlights of which included an amuse-bouche of chicken liver mousse sandwiched between crisp potato topped with quince and parmesan, foie gras topped with eel, walnuts and Granny Smith apple, and ceviche of hand-dived scallop with cucumber in an elderflower and jalapeño jus topped with caviar (below).
Grouse was "meatier and more tender than one could dare to imagine", and came with salsify, artichoke, beetroot and blackcurrant - "the very quintessence of Autumn". A frozen liquorice meringue is "just beautiful", and they finished with a chocolate delice (above) which must be one of the prettiest, most instagrammed desserts in the city, with notes of coffee and yuzu, and a sea-salt milk sorbet. If The Greenhouse's one star turns to two tomorrow, that €300 is going to look like even better value. Read her review here.
In The Irish Times, Catherine Cleary makes it a staggering 15 weeks in a row doling out good reviews, this time for the newly reopened Botanic House in Glasnevin. Is the city's cooking getting that good? Not since the evisceration of Five Guys have we seen even the chink of a knife. She calls the menu a "sensible tweed suit of a list", but the 70's prawn cocktail is made with "proper fluffy fresh prawns", and crab claws are "soft and thready" and some of the best she's eaten.
Her main of hot native shellfish (the same one that Tom Doorley took to task a few months ago) had "fine" mussels, "divine" lobster meat, and "more of those wonderful crab claws", but the black bean sauce they were in was just "odd". Hake, steak and a burger ranged from "good" to "excellent", and a vanilla crème brûlée is "executed perfectly". The only disappointment was an apple crumble, whose crumble had been baked separately and placed on top - why? She said that eating classic dishes in a lovely pub with just-caught seafood made them very happy, which is good because it's their local. Read her review here.
Another happy diner in the shape of Tom Doorley in the Irish Daily Mail, who was at free-range, fried-chicken spot Mad Egg. After an initial warning that there are no tablecloths, it's noisy, and you'll have to eat at communal tables, he tells us that it's "good enough to overcome these handicaps". Thank goodness. Both the fried chicken and the soft, Amish bun it came in were "excellent", the chicken moist with a crisp coating. He says it's "simple food but so hard to get right".
The accompaniments for the 'Hot Chick' and 'Wild Thing' burgers were "massively assertive but worked", and he says it's rare to see such care and attention to sourcing in a casual restaurant. The DIY cheesecake was "tooth-achingly sweet", mostly because of the DIY elements that you get to decorate it with, and he says that two (non-tablecloth dependant) grown-ups and a teenager had a great time. (Review not currently online)
In The Sunday Independent, it's a bit of a head in hands week for Crow Street, which recently opened in Temple Bar. After two lukewarm reviews last week from Ernie Whalley and Tom Doorley, Lucinda O'Sullivan in The Sunday Independent sticks the boot in proper. She admits to arriving on their first evening open, and there's a lot of consternation about critics doing this. Our feeling is if a restaurant is charging full price to diners they're game to be reviewed. If they want time to settle in they can do a soft launch with discounted prices, which is very common in other cities, but not in Dublin for some reason.
She thought the "Irish soulfood" was confused - a seafood cobbler came with a crumble topping, Macroom buffalo mozzarella had no sign of the potato rosti advertised on the menu, and the crispy, fried buttermilk chicken was "as exciting as that featured on the political rubber chicken circuit". Monkfish scampi came on a pea guacamole "sludge" - ouch - and she had her doubts that the 'hand-cut chips' were cut by human hand. She says "the food needed a lot of sharpening", and tells us that the restaurant emailed her a week later to say the head chef had changed and menu changes would also follow. Last ditch effort to avoid the inevitable rough review? (Review not currently online)
In The Irish Examiner, Joe McNamee was at Glebe Gardens in Skibbereen, in the former site of the much missed Carmel Somers' Good Things Café. Thankfully he finds them a worthy replacement. A swiss chard and chickpea soup is a "joy", a spiced beef flatbread is an "embrace of pure comfort", and Roaringwater Bay Mussels are "majestic" in "delicious stock" soaked up with "pillow-soft focaccia".
A toastie with Hegarty’s cheese, charred scallion and tomato relish was "a triumph", and desserts of chocolate tart, lemon meringue and orange cake were "superb" and "well-judged". There were some service issues that need to be ironed out, but he praises the "exceptionally sympatico" chef Bob Cairns, "still in the early throes of his love affair with West Cork produce". Read his review here.
In the Sunday Times, Ernie Whalley thinks Feast, who've recently moved from Dun Laoghaire to Golden Lane in Dublin 2, has the potential to become another Dax (read that here), and in the Sunday Business Post, Gillian Nelis finds "something for everyone" at Asian eatery Koh on Millennium Walkway (read that here).
More next week.