This Week's Critic Reviews
We were wondering who would get the first review of Uno Mas in, which has been undoubtedly one of the most anticipated openings of the year. The safe money was on Lucinda who we know had booked in for opening night, but lo and behold Tom Doorley beat her to it. Presumably we can expect her take on the Spanish influenced cuisine from the Etto crew next Sunday.
No surprise to hear that Tom loved it. He describes the gildas as "bursting with savoury goodness", slivers of pig's ear were tender and crisply coated, and the squid a la plancha with just salt and olive oil was "the best thing I've eaten all year". Morcilla with fried quail's egg and piquillo pepper was "breathtakingly simple", with flavours working "like a symphony", and a potato and onion tortilla was "perfectly seasoned ... perfectly oozing". We can confirm it is that good.
They finished with a dessert of milhojas, which reminded them of childhood custard slices, and he says that even though his visit was on their fourth night they didn't miss a beat. He describes the food at Uno Mas as "very simple dishes ... very clever and executed exquisitely." Needless to say they were very pleased to wake up to that yesterday morning. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Times this week, Catherine Cleary has gone very worthy altogether by using her column to highlight The Fumbally team's brilliant work in taking over the canteen at a local school. The reason she gets away with it (by a sliver) is because they're starting to offer food for collection to local businesses as a way to keep money coming in. She went to their fundraising dinner to see (and eat) the type of food they're serving up to the girls, and that will now be available as part of a catering service.
Roasted squash with labneh and spices was "a perfect plate", and corn tortillas with tomatillo salsa, pork belly and pickled red onion are the best she's had outside Mexico - which is saying something. Two curries, one chicken and one butternut squash were "delicious", and dessert of apple crumble with custard caused bowls to be "almost licked clean". She says that The Fumbally have made good food in Dublin cafés the norm, and if they can make the same work financially in schools it's a model that could be rolled out anywhere. Okay we forgive her. Read her review here.
In the Sunday Independent Lucinda O'Sullivan was in Cork trying out "contemporary Italian osteria" Da Mirco in Cork, where she found the drink of her dreams - a mixture of Campari, Martino (Martini?) Rosso and Prosecco in case you're interested. Like Joe McNamee a couple of months ago, she was very taken with the "simple food and good wine", which included a baked potato cake with a cod mousse ("tasty and filling") and raviolini with gorgonzola and walnuts ("absolutely delicious").
Tagliatelle with a mixed-meat white ragu (above) had "a rich and edgy taste", and casarecce alla puttanesca was "a whopping bowl with tonnes of everything". Her friend's salame di cioccolato was "the perfect chocolate fix", and her Lombardy cheeseboard was "just fabulous". She says the menu is concise and the prices great, and they clearly left delighted with life. (Review not currently online)
In The Irish Examiner Joe McNamee was remembering the good and the bad about A.A. Gill at the Farmgate Café in Cork's English Market. The good - his stylish and funny prose. The bad - his brutal hidings. Thankfully when the now passed critic visited Cork's Farmgate Café he loved it as much as Joe does. He calls it a "sanctuary", and upon entering "the world without vanishes entirely, for as long as you choose to stay".
Their chicken liver paté was "fine and herbaceaous", a lamb shank was "divine meat" cooked perfectly, and a smoked cheese, potato, leek and caramelised onion tart was "quite delicious", with a "wonderfully gooey filling". An Irish stew was "tender, sweet and exquisite", and he says the Farmgate's essence and ethos has remained consistent for the 24 years it's been open. He even goes so far as to say on certain days it's his favourite restaurant in the world. Hard to beat. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Independent, Katy McGuinness took a trip to London to super cool Shoreditch eatery St Leonards, which she calls "flamboyant but flawed". Their mixed experienced started with an icy welcome, before they got onto the food that didn't all taste as good as it sounded. High points included shell-on prawns with Old Bay mayonnaise, grilled leek heart cooked on the grill, filled with almond cream and topped with truffle, and a foie gras custard with smoked eel and crunchy pork rind, but there were plenty of lows too.
Oysters with beef dripping, green tomato and horseradish were a "non-event" with their "unpleasant mouthfeel of cold fat" (gag-worthy), grey mullet crudo was "awful, unpleasant", with a "complete absence of flavour", and a Mangalica pork chop had a meat to fat ratio that her fellow diners found "off-putting". Dessert of a salted caramel and sherry tart was "sublime" and while she says the food is by no means perfect, it's certainly exciting. This seems to be the theme of the place as Jay Rayner called it "not so much a restaurant as a funfair ride". Read her review here.
In The Sunday Times Ernie Whalley enjoyed "a masterclass in styling and flavour" at The Owenmore Restaurant in Ballinahinch Castle, read that here, and in the Sunday Business Post, Gillian Nelis liked the bistro dishes more than the exotic ones at The Three Q's in Greystones. Read that here.
More next week.