This Week's Critic Reviews
If we were 'theoretically' putting together a list of the hottest restaurants in Dublin right now, Luna would probably be at the top of it. Since new head chef Vish Sumputh (formerly sous chef at Chapter One) took over in early summer, the buzz has been steadily rising, and now that the critics have started heading in to size things up, the consensus is unanimous - Luna's got itself a brand new bag.
This week it's Leslie Williams in The Irish Examiner who's under Luna's spell (as well as Conor Stevens in Totally Dublin). He gives the food 9/10, the key to which he says, is the saucing - and if you're a regular reader of Leslie's reviews you'll know how he feels about inadequate saucing. It was the walnut milk sauce that made a starter of baby fennel, tangy goat's curd, caper sprouts and poached peaches (below) a resounding "success", and 'Ragu Bolognese with agnolotti di Parmigiano' had an "intensely rich (and rather glorious) proper Bolognese sauce", made from slow-cooked pork shoulder.
It was the description of the rabbit main course however that had us reaching for the phone to make a booking, which he calls "Michelin star food at around half the price". You had us at rabbit legs stuffed with mousse made from from the kidneys and liver with added smoked bacon and foie gras, never mind the apricot-scented girolles and "silk pillow gnocchi". No complaints about desserts or wine, and he says that "Luna remains one of the very best restaurants in the country." Read his review here.
In The Irish Times, Catherine Cleary gives Feast on Golden Lane their second positive review in two weeks, after Ernie Whalley's last Sunday. Feast recently moved from their original premises in Dun Laoghaire, and despite numerous restaurants attempting and failing at making a go of it in their new home on Golden Lane, CC says she hopes this one's a keeper. Highlights included bread with almogrote and an "excellent" black olive tapanade, "expertly cooked" scallops with chorizo-roasted carrots and smoked eel in a "delightful" sweetcorn broth, only slightly ruined by "Mr Kipling-sweet" chunks of corn sponge, which "should never have been there in the first place".
Lamb shoulder with aubergine (above) was "stunning", coming with potato cubes diced and crisped with Reblochon cheese, and duck breast with parsnips was "excellent", and good value as part of the pre-theatre meal. A baked-carrot cheesecake had a bit too much going on, but she says that trying too hard is definitely better than not trying hard enough, which is all too common at this price point in this part of town. Preach. Read her review here.
In The Irish Independent, Katy McGuinness was at new Blackrock café Fable & Stey, wishing they'd try a bit harder. Despite the menu being littered with buzzwords, they found the avocado toast dull, with salsa that 'isn't salsa, just a bunch of chopped tomatoes with coriander", and a butternut squash soup was "thicky, smooth and blandly comforting". The best dish was a lunch special of warm potatoes, jammy tomatillos, garlicky yoghurt, peas, peashoots, pickles, herbs, peanut rayu and a fried egg, but another kicking comes in the comment that it's not a patch on Etto's workers lunch which costs just a few euros more.
Takeaway cakes were good, although a Bread Nation cinnamon swirl was suffering from overexposure to air, and service was "smiley but verging on hapless". She was unimpressed that their water jug needed a proper clean, as did some grubby highchairs, and that her "stingy" serving of good kombucha came in a glass hot from the dishwasher. She says she's "getting bored of this café-by-numbers kind of establishment, where every menu reads the same and every dish feels like a cover version of the real thing i.e. The Fumbally". She gives the food, ambience and value 7/10. (Review not currently online but should be soon here).
In The Sunday Independent, Lucinda O'Sullivan thinks she's figured out one of the big mysteries of life - what do women want? 'Posh' sandwiches and bottomless prosecco apparently. Glad that's sorted. She was at the new Gourmet Food Parlour in Skerries, where she describes the food as "broadly Mediterranean with something for everyone" - even the ladies. A toasted vegan wrap was "chunky" and "tasty", and a three-bean Thai curry was "light" and "aromatic". Her female dining companion doesn't like anything "too hot", presumably because of her sensitive female disposition.
The pasta of the day (above) with chorizo, peppers and prawns was "delicious", as were the "legendary" patatas bravas. She advises looking out for the bottomless prosecco deal from 5pm, which is basically all women want in life, and suggests that even men might be tempted by it. We're not sure the men of Skerries are lining up for that one, but happy to stand corrected if anyone has pictures to the contrary. (Review not currently online)
In The Irish Daily Mail, Tom Doorley uses All The Superlatives to describe his meal at Michelin-starred Campagne in Kilkenny. Cauliflower soup with lobster was "smooth as silk ... bliss", a terrine of ox tongue and foie gras was a "visual delight", and a preview of a new partridge dish was "quite simply perfect".
Squab pigeon was "as tender as buttery fillet", free-range chicken with diced ham underneath cripsy skin with cep jus was "intensely savoury ... moist and chicken flavoured", and a shared dessert of frangipane tart with ginger ice-cream was "unbelievably light in texture". He calls it "more than just a faultless lunch, it was one with elements of surprise, reminders of the hidden complexities of food at this level," and calls Garret Byrne's cooking "impeccable". (Review not currently online)
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis tries out Lil Portie's Jamaican food in Rathmines, finding it "wonderfully laid back" and unlike anything else you'll find in Dublin (read that here), and in the Sunday Times, Ernie Whalley is at The Mustard Seed in Limerick, where he finds the welcome, the ambiance and the cooking three very good reasons to visit. Read that here.
More next week.