This Week's Critic Reviews


It's two days before Christmas, which means all the round ups! Some critics have picked their favourite restaurants from the past 12 months, some have literally just listed everywhere they've eaten, and a few actually reviewed somewhere new. First to the new...

The Irish Independent's Katy McGuinness is the latest in the door of US-style Loretta's in Phibsborough. The smart fit-out reminded her of some Press Up venues (which is a compliment), and she says she admires the bravery involved in opening "a big, proper restaurant ... at a time when there is a chill wind blowing through the industry". Nashville hot oysters with brown butter and bone marrow sauce could have been hotter but the flavours were "dirty fabulous", and oyster mushrooms with parmesan fondue and aubergine relish were "properly tasty".

A Skeaghanore duck salad was "a gorgeous composition" and a striploin steak was "impeccable" with "excellent house-made chips", but side salads were over-dressed. She wasn't a fan of the beef and pork ragu either, feeling it had been rushed, and the black bean chilli on the side of Wicklow venison lacked depth, although the cornbread it came with was "buttery and delicious". An American style baked cheesecake to end was "a winner", and she calls it "a family-run restaurant with a very nice vibe". She gives it 8/10 for food, ambiance and value. Read her review here.

In the Irish Examiner, Joe McNamee was in Green Man Wines in Terenure, enjoying the experience of "being able to stand up, walk over to a wall of wine and spend a few minutes mulling over your next choice." A lot of the review is about the wines they drank, including an Italian 'Pét Nat', a "beautifully balanced" Italian Vermentino, and a "bright, juicy" organic Italian Syrah - we're suddenly very thirsty.

Mediterranean snacks of corn kernels and lupins divided the table, while a bowl of wild mussels with parsley and garlic butter were flavoursome, sweet and nutty, but missing bread to mop up the sauce. A tender Flat Iron steak came with "terrific" bearnaise and "criminally addictive" parsnip chips - both so good that seconds of each were ordered, and he says that while the food offering is designed to serve the drinks offering, it's "extremely decent, well-cooked and tasty grub, a fine servant to some splendid wines." Read his review here.

In the Irish Times, Catherine Cleary is doleling out her restaurants of the year awards, and says the places that got her attention were the ones paying attention themselves - "food geeks who lie awake at night wondering how to make it better". Locks get her vote for "best neighbourhood place", for their relaxed team and "wonderful food" (read our review here), Assassination Custard take "best café" for their "small brilliance" (we reviewed them too), and Indian 3 Leaves in Blackrock gets "best value".

No doubt there will be consternation amongst the country folk for her "best out-of-Dublin" category (Restaurant Chestnut), but three out of nine of her awards go to restaurants outside the capital, which seems about right? (Luckily as this is a Dublin-based site we shouldn't get too much abuse off the back of that one). Pi takes "best newcomer", Vietnom takes "best street food", and Airfield's Overends Kitchen takes "best farm-to-fork. The full article (including those out-of-Dublin places) is here.

It's a similar story in the Irish Daily Mail, with Tom Doorley picking out the best restaurants he reviewed for each month of 2018, eventually settling on his favourite five. Etto makes the list for their "simple and brilliant" cooking and "sensational" wine list, Campagne in Kilkenny for their "sublime" food, Everett's in Waterford for their transformation of raw materials that lives on long after the last mouthful is swallowed, and Pichet for a simply perfect lunch.