This Week's Critic Reviews
We've been waiting for a flurry of reviews of The Grayson, which opened two months ago in the former Residence building on St. Stephen's Green, but things have been surprisingly quiet. The only reviewer they've managed to attract up until now is Lucinda O'Sullivan, who despite marching in on their first week, loved it. Are the critics just jaded about the latest cog in the Press Up machine? Well Tom Doorley isn't, as he reviews it in today's Irish Daily Mail, and while he admits that the food is "less ambitious" than the previous incumbents, he says that "the food is probably not actually meant to take centre stage". This is restaurant "as entertainment". Whatever you're into yourself.
Their entertainment came in the form of four "alpha males" who were "unbearably loud", but their table overlooking St. Stephen's Green was "rather lovely". The food was mixed but veers towards the positive. Pork belly and croquette with puy lentils was "no hardship to eat", halloumi with crushed, smoked almonds and pesto was grilled perfectly and "ate well", but pan-friend halibut with nduja ratte potatoes, samphire, sweetcorn and okra had too much going on with flavours over-powering the fish, and needed to be reduced to its essentials (we've had it, and agree).
A rib-eye steak on the other hand was "spot-on", with a "sensitively dressed salad" and "decent" chips. Brown bread ice-cream "wasn't bad" and coffee was good, and he calls The Grayson "a pretty
impressive place" with food that's "decent enough", but that will hopefully improve as the kitchen gains confidence. He also tells us his niece works there but she was off that night (she's the area manager for Press Up). Do with that what you will.
In the Irish Times, Catherine Cleary loved the new site from Camerino Bakery in the Goethe Institute on Merrion Square, and praised the person who put "a real cook into a cultural space". A bowl of sweet potato soup with chickpeas, peas, tomato and herb salsa was the best soup she's had in a long time, and her toasted sandwich "a king of toasties", with "properly fiery and funky kimchi, salami that’s been fermented till it honks ... a good cheddar to bind it all together and seeded sourdough toast finished with butter on the outside."
Both a carrot and walnut slice and a cinnamon and chocolate cookie were "divine", and the coffee excellent. She gives it 8.5/10 and calls it a beautiful new café in a food dessert part of town. Read her review here.
In the Irish Independent, Katy McGuinness is the latest critic to be wooed by 25 year old head chef Karan Mittal's cooking at Ananda in Dundrum - although she didn't fall quite as hard as Lucinda. Long a Dublin destination for high-end Indian food, Karan seems to have taken it to new heights, and Katy says "I couldn't recommend Ananda more". Everything sounds incredible, from tandoor smoked duck with duck-leg samosa, fig, plum ketchup and medjool date with St. Tola goat's cheese, to char-grilled prawns with avocado koshimbiri (like a raw vegetable salad) and mango confiture.
"An explosion of flavour" came in the form of a Kashmiri morel stuffed with wild mushrooms, chicken tikka and asparagus, on top of mushroom kedgeree with Parmesan, tomato and pine nuts, and Mittal's signature black lime sorbet was "pungent, intense, magnificent". Mains of Bombay Keema Salli (lamb, quail's egg and padron pepper), Jhinga Neel Giri (wild prawns) and lamb biryani were "impeccable", as were sides of okra and black dahl, and she calls it "sophisticated modern Indian food from a young chef focussed on flavour", giving it 9/10 for food, ambience and value. Read her view here.
In the Irish Examiner, Leslie Williams finds a tapas restaurant worth travelling for at Solas in Dingle, who source almost everything from the Dingle peninsula (which is enough to get us interested). Chargrilled octopus was "firm and packed with flavour", and came with slices of marinated ‘carpaccio’ and squid ink aioli as contrast, seafood chowder croquettes sounded like they wouldn't work but did, "gloriously so", and the "sweet and tender" prawns in the pil-pil had come straight off the pier.
They took home "delicious" petit fours, whose flavours all had a nod to the west, and he says Solas is full of the little touches that make a restaurant, like mint and lemon slices in the water and offers of extra bread, and seconds - SRSLY?? He advises "you definitely need to go to Dingle", and we're convinced. Read his review here.
Finally, Lucinda O'Sullivan is living it up at the world's best hotel in the Sunday Independent, with a trip to Adare Manor in Limerick. She sacrificed the hotel's fine-dining restaurant to eat in the more casual option, The Carraige House, as she figured that's where us plebs would be more likely to be able to afford to eat. A salad of Alaskan king crab with avocado, datterini tomatos and salad leaves was "delicious", and her Dublin Bay prawn cocktail came with little jugs of extra sauce - "a nice touch".
A roasted squash risotto with goat's cheese, fried sage and garlic oil was "perfectly cooked", and pan-fried seabass with a bean, chorizo and hazlenut cassoulet was also "delicious". Desserts of banoffi and berry sabayon were "divine", the latter coming with a huge "fluff" of Champagne sabayon and a "quenelle" of orange sorbet. She reckoned they could have stayed in JP's paddock forever, but they "saddled up" and hit the road - cue involuntary groan. (Review not currently online)
In The Sunday Times Ernie Whalley is impressed with 1826 in Adare, calling it "some restaurant" (read his review here), and in the Sunday Business Post, Gillian Nelis revisits Avalon in Donnybrook and finds the welcome warm and the food elegant and well-balanced. Read her review here.
More next week.