Those fretting about the amount of coverage going to "the new" restaurants - imagine - best look away now, as there's a fair amount of "new" this week, plus a new incarnation of an old haunt that most of us have probably danced in while drinking bad wine, but we'll get to that later.
First up, despite only opening five days before Christmas, Variety Jones is straight out of the blocks with two reviews this weekend, in the Irish Daily Mail and the Sunday Business Post, and both are glowing. It reminded Tom Doorley of cool London restaurants like Brat or St Leonards, and the moral of the story is he "absolutely bloody loved it". The dish of the night was grilled cauliflower with burnt yeast, sea trout and brown butter (and having eaten this we can attest that it is shockingly good), which he calls "an exquisite, jewel-like dish", and comté ravioli with picked and fresh chanterelles was "perfectly balanced" with "a subtle alchemy" going on.
A whole black sole to share was cooked perfectly and came with mussels and cockles, which slightly dominated the dish, and a warm potato salad with "nuggets" of smoked eel was "remarkable" - and sounds it. He calls the wine list "commendably compact" and "bang on trend" and is vowing to return very soon. Read his review here.
Gillian Nelis in the Sunday Business Post was similarly impressed after her visit to Variety Jones, saying that the food really did the talking. She also praised the cauliflower, as well as the "smooth as silk" chicken liver paté with "lovely" potato bread, and the "moreish" smokey vegetables with barley and curd. Comté ravioli was "top notch", sharing mains of sole and venison were "great" and cooked perfectly, and Jamaica ginger cake for dessert was "moist and delicious". Read her review here.
More of "the new" in the Irish Examiner, as Leslie Williams paid a trip to new Italian pasta bar Grano in Stoneybatter, and like Tom Doorley last week he left very happy. Olives to start were particularly "flavour-packed" thanks to time drying out in an oven, and Black Pig lardo on sourdough toast was "delicious" (need to get us some of that). Frisella di Farro, traditional Puglian spelt bread topped with tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil was their favourite thing of the night, and he said the simple dish had "no right to taste this good."
Filejio al Pommodoro (textured strips of pasta in tomato sauce) was "simple but rather glorious", and struncatura (a mixed grain pasta) with cockles, mussels and bergamot was light and fresh with wonderful texture but they thought a denser sauce would have worked better with the "robust" pasta. Tiramisu for dessert was "just about perfect", and they also enjoyed a deconstructed cannolo. He calls Grano "a gem of a spot and warmly recommended not just for the quality of the food but the generosity of the welcome...". Read his review here.
It was semi-new for Katy McGuinness in the Irish Independent who was chowing down on cheese toasties at wine bar Loose Canon on Drury Street, which opened last July. She calls it "a little gem", and "something new for Dublin", as well as an ideal place to dip your toe into natural wine, which "can be "pretty funky", but "rarely dull".
She calls their toasties "a thing of beauty, made with fabulous ingredients", and "gargantuan", and says the only way you could spend a lot of money there is by drinking oodles of wine (dunno Katie, more than once we've nipped in here for an hour for a few glasses of wine and some small plates and been handed a bill for €80. Oops.) She calls the toasties with wine "a truly joyous food experience", and one that she'll be repeating in the year ahead. She gives it 9/10 for food and 10/10 for value. Read her review here.
In the Sunday Independent Lucinda O'Sullivan was checking out the newly reopened and refurbished Café en Seine - €4 million pumped in apparently. We weren't expecting a lot from the food in a venue that can hold 1300 people, and Leslie Williams delivered the 'meh' review we were waiting for a couple of weeks ago, but Lucinda (or the sub-editor) calls it "insanely good".
She calls it "high-end casual food", and they shared small plates including "divine" seared King scallops, "superb" gambas a la plancha, and roast spears of salsify with Gorgonzola and Madeira which they loved. She says everything was "delicious and good value for money", but did take exception to the fact that there was only one wine under €30. She also calls Picpoul de Pinet (which encompasses a whole region of France) "plonk", which we're sure the Sud de France promotional board wouldn't be too happy about. Although having seen the wine list, it probably is plonk. (Review not currently online)
Finally to quell the burning flames of the new, Catherine Cleary in the Irish Times revisited Pickle on Camden Street, which she previously reviewed soon after opening in 2016. She finds it better than ever, and we dare you to read her review and not immediately want to book a table, with descriptions of lentil and rice crisps with shrimp pickle, aloo tikki chaat smothered in jammy pomegranate molasses, and "one of the best dhals I've ever tasted", with "fresh puffy naan".
There were loads more lovely sounding things on the vegetarian thali, and she says Pickle is "a restaurant that has grown into a very special place to eat", with the joy of its new vegetarian dishes the "less-but-better approach". She gives it 9/10. Read her review here.
Finally, in the Sunday Times Ernie Whalley was eating in West Restaurant in The Twelve Hotel in Galway, where he had a memorable meal featuring rabbit, venison and a 'soubise'. Read that here.
More next week.