Another almost home run of Dublin reviews this week (bonus), and once again it's a full contingent of positivity. Thought of the day: Anyone else noticing that bad or middling reviews are getting less and less frequent? Rather than critics bottling it, maybe the standard of food across the city is getting so good, particularly with the glut of new openings, that it's getting harder and harder to find somewhere bad enough to give a kicking to?
Both Catherine Cleary and Tom Doorley went on the hunt for brunch this week, and might have uncovered a couple of new places to add to your to-do lists. In the Irish Times CC expected to be underwhelmed by Groundstate Coffee, thinking it looks "too hip to be delicious", but on leaving says she hasn't loved a café this much since Laura Caulwell was cooking at Storyboard. Stop the lights.
She liked it so much she went two days in a row, and it all sounds pretty amazeballs, especially the croque madame with Bread Nation bread, thick-cut ham "that tastes like it came from a pantry in the 1950's", parmesan and cheddar cream, crispy fried egg and a side of perfect kimchi. Be still our hearts. Also getting pulses racing was the French toast with citrus crème anglaise, labneh, and berries, and apparently the weekend vegan toast "sounds purgatorial but is delicious". The only disappointment was the date-based desserts, but she calls the food "excellent" and gives it 8.5/10. Read her review here.
In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley was at Legit Coffee Co. in Phibsborough, loving the fact that they're dedicated to brunch. He say he would go back for the "clever" pulled pork benedict, with "perfectly cooked eggs", "pleasingly sharp yet silky" hollandaise, and "pork tasting of pork". Another dish of eggs and greens came with toasted sourdough, spring cabbage, avocado, spinach leaves and "delightfully pink" beet hummus, which he calls "healthy stuff" yet substantial.
Once again desserts didn't really do the trick, with a pineapple upside down cake "okay but rather dry", and a bounty bar also too dry, and hard to eat, but the situation was saved by a salted caramel canelé - "glorious", and "oozed salted caramel everywhere". Coffee and tea was excellent and they liked the minimalist design and the "pleasantly vague" staff, which must be the best insult compliment of the week. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Examiner, Joe McNamee says that Pickle on Camden Street is the best Indian food he's had in Ireland: "playful, inventive, damn tasty and so much more than mere reproductions from the canon." Read the review for the full descriptions of the mammoth amount of dishes they tried, but the Wicklow venison samosas with berry chutney and the 36 hour lentil dahl with butter naan sound particularly good - maybe because we've had the dahl and it is that good.
Pickles comprised of a "glorious selection" of carrot, mango, lime, seaweed and chilli, and he was delighted to see rarely sighted goat on the menu, in the famous Pickle goat mince curry - "an earthy old school bowl with a throbbing chilli undertow." Desserts of kulfi and deep-fried dough balls soaked in cardamom were "a blissful conclusion", and he gives the food 8.5/10. Read the full review here.
In the Sunday Independent Lucinda O'Sullivan is the second through the door of Jay Bourke and chef Matt Fuller's new South William Street opening Bart's, and like Ernie Whalley she was seriously impressed with the tapas-style, unusual sounding menu. She skims over Jay Bourke's "financial controversy", saying "times move on, and he was always a great ideas man", and she reckons the small plates at Bart's would sit comfortably in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
She says they wanted everything on the menu, but settled on "featherweight" oyster crisps, "chunky" arancini with wild mushrooms, and "finger-licking" fries with lobster emulsion and grated parmesan. Battered turbot with coriander salsa was "heavenly", and hoisin duck was "precision cut", with a rich, dark sesame, soy and ginger jus with pickled ginger. They seem totally wowed by desserts of a Spanish smoked sheep's cheese cheesecake with angostura pears and quince jelly, and a ricotta panna cotta with rhubarb, meringue "nipples" (no other suitable descriptor?), and cava ice cream, and says they almost gave the kitchen a standing ovation. Wowsers. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness was at Oliveto in Haddington House Dun Laoghaire, who've clearly gotten over their fear of a review only three years into their five year renovation programme (they tried to dissuade Ernie Whalley from writing about it last November, but had nothing to worry about). Katy loved it too, especially as they bagged a table with a sea view. They describe the menu as "Irish seasonal food through an Italian lens", and to be fair that's exactly what it sounds like.
Lightly battered baby squid with garlic aioli, salsify with roasted parmesan, smoked almond and saffron, and potato and cheese agnolotti with guanciale were all impressive, as was a vegetarian dish of chargrilled celeriac, black garlic butter, savoy cabbage, mushroom ragu and pine oil. Braised Andarl pork cheeks with Jerusalem artichoke purée, hazelnut butter, kalettes and Pedro Ximinez jus was a "triumph", and despite a few minor quibbles gives it 8/10 for food and value. Read her review here.
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis was back to review The Pigeon House in Delgany after her last one 5 years ago. It all sounds a bit suburbia, crowd-pleaser stuff, but they liked it, with the exception of some flavourless cured salmon and roast potatoes which tasted boiled. Overall she thought the menu had a "full flavoured vibe", with dishes like buttermilk-fried quail with honey, sesame and chipotle mayo, roast cauliflower with almonds, grapes and a cheese sauce and half a chicken served with apple and apricot stuffing and "very good" chicken gravy. Read her review here.
Finally in the Sunday Times, Ernie Whalley lunched at Gertrude solo three times to give a really good overview of the menu, the drinks and the atmosphere. Read that here.
No critics reviews next week. Back in two.