This Week's Critic Reviews
Stop the lights. Tom Doorley is claiming that he's discovered pizza better than Pi's. In Dublin. And no one has even heard of it. The establishment in question is the Wood Fire Café, just off Dorset Street in Dublin 7, which opened earlier this year. Tom admits that Pi's pizzas are "exceptionally good", but that he believes this new discovery "eclipses" it. We might need some time to process this.
He says that it's clear the staff are cooking to please themselves and other Italians, not the Irish palate (tick), and that it was friends rather than social media which led him there (depends who the friends are but - tick). The margherita came with a "bubbled crust ... on the cusp of blackening", with
"creamy rich mozzarella", "juicy San Marzano tomatoes" and "exceptional flavour", and a base that had a "perfect texture, correctly floppy but without the faintest hint of doughiness".
Tirimasu was "very good indeed", with "ethereal sponge, lots of whipped mascarpone, just enough espresso" and no booze, and unusually that's all the food that's mentioned. He said he meant to go back again but couldn't wait to share the good news. (Review not currently online)
In The Irish Times, Catherine Cleary is still loving life after a visit to The Saddle Room in The Shelbourne. It's been months since she had even the whisper of a bad meal, and we're starting to wonder if she should go in search of one, for balance like. She liked the look of the pre-theatre menu, full of Autumnal dishes both "light and earthy", but was momentarily unimpressed when four oysters came on a plate with six wells in it - that might slip down to three once the VAT hike kicks in.
Everything else is "perfect", including whipped Fivemiletown goat's cheese with pickled butternut squash and dark walnut pesto, venison with salsify and "nutty" brown mushrooms, and skate wings with a parmesan and truffle cream, dill and capers. A bread pudding for dessert was "the loveliest thing", and she says that "this is a kitchen paying the extra attention you typically find in smaller chef-patron operations, where a pride is taken in everything that leaves the pass." She calls it Dublin's best Sunday night dining secret - watch out for that list coming soon. Read her review here.
In the Irish Independent, Katy McGuinness tries to be nice about her visit to Brothers Dosirak, the casual Korean eatery at the back of an Asian mini-market on Capel Street, but finds the high points to be "volume and value". Disaster strikes when the vegetable dosirak (like a Korean bento box) comes with a slice of what they suspect to be Spam underneath the kimchi. No word on what the staff's response was when they presumably flung it in disgust towards the counter.
A beef bimibap (rice bowl with meat and veggies, topped with a fried egg) was better, the highlight of which was Korean chilli sauce, "many-layered in terms of flavour complexity", and dessert, which was included in the price, was a "tiny cube of rather dry brownie". She says that the lack of provenance information is "hardly surprising at these prices", but that she's sure she's not alone in being less than thrilled at the thought of unknowingly eating battery eggs, industrially-reared pork and intensively-farmed chicken. We'll join you up on that perch Katy. Read her review here.
In The Sunday Independent, Lucinda O'Sullivan went on a gal's night out to Dalkey had had such a delightful experience at The Dalkey Duck that she questioned if she dreamt it. This was her second trip - she walked out the first time because the menu "didn't cut the mustard", but this time she said they'd gotten their act together. They were "totally impressed" by starters of a balsamic roasted beetroot plate with fivemiletown goat's cheese and candied walnuts, and grilled fillets of red mullet on sourdough toast with sauce vierge.
Bouillabaisse for mains was "sophisticated and delicious", and a whole lobster at the "knockdown price" of €28 was far superior to the one she paid €48 for in The Ivy a few weeks ago, and with none of the claw cracking hassle. A duck egg and vanilla crème brûlée was "lovely", as was their German Riesling - even more so because all wines are half price from 5-8pm. Sounds like a reason to hop on the dart. (Review not currently online)
In The Irish Examiner, Joe McNamee is "besotted" with Da Mirco Osteria in Cork, which opened earlier this year. He calls it "a traditional Italian osteria, offering home-style cooking and good wines". Owner Micro Fondrini is "the embodiment of hospitality", and he finds the whole experience "entirely authentic" and "quite excellent".
Food highlights included ravioloni in a purée of butternut squash, walnuts and gorgonzola which was "delightfully al dente", a golden brown, chewy lasagna with porcini and Italian sausage, which was "truly delicious", and patate e baccalá, layers of grated potato and salted cod mousse baked in the oven, was his favourite dish of the evening. Tiramisu passed the authenticity test, as did a plate of regional Lombary cheeses. His only quibble was the sole fish option of farmed, imported seabass, "when an abundance of fabulous Irish seafood is so readily to hand", but he calls Da Mirco "nigh on perfect".
In The Sunday Times, Ernie Whalley doesn't regret a last minute decision to visit Saba on Baggot Street (read that here), and in The Sunday Business Post, Gillian Nellis finds great views and exhilarating pub grub at The Strand Bar in Wexford. Read that here.
More next week.