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This Week's Critic Reviews

Well this is embarrassing. Three of the critics have reviewed the same restaurant this week. Is this like showing up to a wedding in the same outfit as not one but two other guests? Lucky for Loretta's in Phibsborough, it's a fried chicken filled hat-trick.

In The Irish Times, Catherine Cleary calls it "a slice of Americana" on the Northside, with "big, gutsy dishes cooked from the heart". Despite the fact she found the lighting slightly too bright, she says "they've done a brave thing with this space", and that their accountant probably would have recommended opening a superpub or burger joint instead. More fool them. A chicken-liver mousse on brioche with candied walnuts and whit port soaked golden raisins "works really well", and oyster mushrooms on toast with Parmesan fondue and aubergine relish is "great".

The dish that's probably going to be their signature, a 'biscuit' with fried chicken and a corn and fennel salad, she calls "a keeper", and combining it all makes for "a truly satisfying mouthful". Cured then fried seatrout with butternut squash gnocchi is "rib-sticking", and the only let down was the desserts, which were "fine". She calls it "a place to sit back and ... enjoy a district reinventing itself through small businesses wearing their hearts on their sleeves." All the feels... Read her review here.

In the Irish Daily Mail, Tom Doorley calls chef and owner Jimmy Wiley's food "excellent ... rather original, American accented cooking." He was also feeling the fried chicken, calling it "a knockout", and loved a Skeaghanore duck salad with roasted baby beetroot and violette mustard. A striploin steak had "a lovely touch of smoky char" and came with homemade chips - another win.

He calls Loretta's "more than a neighbourhood restaurant", saying he can see people travelling to eat here from all over the city. He found out in the course of the meal that Jimmy grows his own vegetables in North Dublin, and it sounds like they had a bonding moment over some tomatillos. Needless to say he's a big fan. (Review not currently online)

Another love letter to Loretta's in the Irish Examiner (are you bored yet? Stick with us...), where Leslie Williams is super impressed with the "lovely job" done refitting the former bank - "the grandeur of the space kept fully intact". More love for the fried chicken ("tender and flavourful") and the "excellent" buttermilk ‘biscuit’, which he notes rarely seen in Ireland - we're more likely to call it a scone.

"Excellent" Nashville Hot Oysters’ came in a crispy coating with "pungent" bone marrow tartare, dry-aged Angus striplon was "tender, good quality meat", and beef and pork ragu with pappardelle was "properly" Bolognese style, even if the pasta was slightly overcooked. Their desserts (different to Catherine Cleary's) sound pretty good, and he says it would be great if every neighbourhood had a spot like Loretta's. Read his review here.

Now for something completely different. Another disappointing meal at Del-Fino. Katy McGuinness in the Irish Independent says she gives her 5/10 for food "with a heavy heart", as she was so looking forward to eating there. She says Del-Fino is "barely holding it together, in terms of either food or service", which is pretty similar to what Leslie Williams and Ernie Whalley said. Things didn't start off well after they were abandoned at an uncomfortable high table, with no one coming back "for the longest time", and after asking to move they ended up very cramped, with no remedy in sight.

She calls the menu "a strange mix ... no one can decide what the food is supposed to be". Fermented potato beignets weren't as interesting as they sounded, two different pasta dishes had excellent pasta but sauces lacking depth of flavour, and the only one that felt like "an O'Reilly plate" was a starter of pork cheek, celeriac, hazelnuts and sherry vinegar. Mains featured overcooked côte de boeuf, dried out shortrib and monotone gnocchi, and she calls the desserts "pedestrian". Despite the head in hands experience she ends on a very generous note, saying "I'm sure things can and will improve". Read her review here.

In the Sunday Independent, Lucinda's back on the round-ups, this time the best places to get something to eat while Christmas shopping (look out for our own feature on this next week). Funnily enough, after the pizza bashing of two weeks ago, she recommends Pi as a good place for a stop off. Maybe she's coming around to the "peasant meal" after all.

Her other Dublin recommendations for Christmas shopping stop-offs include Greek restaurant Corfu on Dame Street which will "transport you immediately to the Aegean", Glovers Alley for "some of the most elegant French style food in the city", and The Legal Eagle - "the hottest gastropub in town". She also gives Saba a shoutout for their cocktails, and Duck, for the, er, pork. (Not currently online)

There's no review in the Sunday Business Post this week due to their gift guide, and in the Sunday Times Ernie Whalley is left cold by his trip to The Botanic House in Glasnevin, which he says wavers between being a pub that serves good food and a neighbourhood restaurant, and is falling short at both. Read that here.

More next week.

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