After a rake of glowing reviews last week, and the stirring up of a debate which provoked a lot of responses from critics, restaurants and diners, it's a rake of mediocre ones this week. Who says they never say anything bad? (FYI - The critic's responses ranged from "don't believe everything chefs tell you" to "sometimes I am too soft".)
Two very different reviews of newly opened Del Fino on Camden St in this weekend's papers. In the Irish Examiner, Leslie Williams describes his "hot mess of a meal", after having high hopes for chef Alan O'Reilly's new opening. He found the "eclectic" mix of cuisines on the menu frustrating, so went for a bit of everything. Highlights included potato beignets - "crisp and fluffy" - and "wafu beef" with fermented pimiento, before things started to go downhill.
Crispy pork croquettes lacked punch, gnocchi in tomato sauce was "serviceable" and pasta landed on the table at the same time as the starters. Calamari with fried Padron peppers, marinara, and aioli came with none of the above, instead with some scattered herbs and red chillies (which the wait staff insisted were padron), and slow-braised pork shank was "bland and characterless". The wine list didn't impress either, and there were more issues but we'll let you read the full thing.
The chef came to the table at the end to apologise for the problems, and he ends by saying, "There were flashes of excellence but this was a hot mess of a meal. Del Fino needs a massive injection of focus at both front and back of house or they won’t survive Christmas." He gives the food 6/10. Read his review here.
It sounds like Lucinda O'Sullivan was in a different restaurant, as she calls Del Fino "an Italian masterclass". Before getting into the review, she manages to give pizza, that "peasant meal" that's "cheap as chips to make", a proper bashing, as well as those "frenzied foodies" with their "twitter spats and nonsense" about where to find the best one in Dublin. (We'll just leave this here...) Thankfully Del Fino provided the higher end Italian food she's been looking for.
The "super dooper" building had a buzz, great music and comfy banquettes, and she calls it "a better class of restaurant" than most of the fast food joints and kebab shops on the street - controversial LOS. They also thought the wafu beef was "superb", and pasta with porcini and oyster mushrooms was "delicious". A half lobster and rabbit pappardelle for mains also impressed, and it doesn't sound like they had dessert but she calls them "good value" at €6.50. In another contrast to the other review, she calls the wine list "excellent". She ends by saying "who wants a pizza when you can eat like this?" Leslie Williams probably. (Review not currently online).
In The Irish Times, Catherine Cleary took herself over to furniture shop-cum-eatery Industry on Drury Street, who've recently started opening on Friday and Saturday evenings with an Ottolenghi style menu. It's "noisier than a late-night house party", but she calls the menu a "love letter" to Middle Eastern cooking, with a "nimble little wine list". A mezze plate consisted of "all the standards, done well", including chargrilled scallions ("a good judge of the kitchen"), meaty marinated olives, and the star of the plate, a lemon-infused labneh, "luscious enough to eat on its own with the great bread".
She was less impressed with the almond falafel (more mealy than nutty) and the "marinated" feta which didn't taste marinated. An Irish lamb chop came in an "odd" linseed coating, but the meat was "great, tender and succulent", and spiced, roasted cauliflower was a little underdone and undersized, but they "nailed" the flavour, with tahini yoghurt and pomegranate seeds. Desserts were "good but not cheap", the better being a bowl of "winter rhubarb" with "more of that luscious labneh", and she says that while they aren't breaking any new ground, they're doing the crowd pleasers well. Read her review here.