This Week's Critic Reviews
After a brief hiatus we've come back to critics drinking expensive wine, fish cooked in "crazy water", and a review of McDonalds. How long were we gone?
In the Irish Daily Mail, Tom Doorley is in one of the last places we would ever expect to find him - McDonalds. He thought that their introduction of 'table service' made it worthy of a review, but we've already had messages complaining about giving column inches to a corporate entity like Ronald rather than an independent business who it would mean something to, but to be fair, he did put it to the general public and a lot of people said go for it, so you can't win.
Despite him being 'transfixed' by the idea of table service, but it was all a bit of a damp squib, with the computer ordering screens providing "digital hoops" to jump through, and the whole thing "a bit of a palaver". Both the quarter pounder with cheese and the 'classic signature' were good, but the chips were "limp, flaccid, terrible", and we can't quite believe we're discussing the food at McDonalds right now but there you go. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Times, Catherine Cleary calls the food at Gertrude "really simple and really lovely". She wasn't crazy about the room, saying that without a lot of people and sunlight streaming through the windows it felt a bit cold, but the food made up for it. The dish of the night was a scotch egg with celeriac remoulade and wild garlic pesto, which she says achieves "all the best things redolent of great cooking", and the snack plate including cooleeny croquettes and bacon and cabbage dumplings also went down well.
Main's had "that satisfying supper feel of well-sourced and expertly-cooked food", with falling apart featherblade steak and a "lovely" plate of brill with capers and roast lemon purée. Dessert of apple fritters "just work", and they wangled our favourite menu hack of the year so far by asking for that 3fe espresso soft serve instead of the custard it usually comes with. Well played. No comments on the wine list which is a shame because it's great, but she calls it "a lovely addition to dining in this part of Dublin." Read her review here.
In the Irish Independent, Katy McGuinness calls Grano in Stoneybatter "the simple, sincere type of restaurant that Italians take for granted", and it all sounds pretty amazing, from the nduja to the black pig lardo on sourdough to the burrata with cured capocollo ham (we've also had a lot of it and it is - read our once over here).
Hand-made pasta with cuttlefish had deep, intense flavours, and pork neck with smoked pancetta, caciocavallo cheese and cime de rapa was "quite perfect" There weren't crazy on the cannolo which was "pleasant" but not exciting, and they pushed the boat out with a "top-notch" frappato from Sicilian winemaker Arianna Occhipint at €85 - why do so reviewers so rarely drink amazing wine? Newspaper budgets? Too exclusionary? She calls it "a little outpost of Italy in Stoneybatter", and gives it 8/10 for food and 9/10 for value. Read her review here.
More Italian food in the Sunday Independent where Lucinda O'Sullivan happened across a café in Dun Laoghaire doing paninis by day and pasta by night. She calls Belli Dentro "a delightful spot" and they loved their aubergine parmigiana, pasta with porcini mushrooms and cream, and monkfish in tomato sauce with black olives and capers. Special mention too for the brill cooked in "crazy water" which they didn't have but which we are now extremely curious about.
No comment on their desserts of tiramisu and chocolate cake (but presumably no complaints), and despite the depressing looking dining room and plastic chairs, she calls it "a buzzing little neighbourhood restaurant", and says they'll be back. (Review not currently online).
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis is the third critic to be bowled over by Oliveto in Dun Laoghaire, saying it was "quite simply, one of the best meals I’ve eaten in ages". Her slow-braised venison ragu with potato gnocchi, smoked pancetta, kale and pecorino has become something of an obsession since eating there, and she compares the Italian-inspired cooking to Etto, which is a huge compliment. Read her review here.
In the Irish Examiner, Joe McNamee was at Monk's Lane in Cork. He thought the country pub with a reputation for great food would be near dead outside of tourist season but found it packed to the gills, and they just about managed to nab the last table in the place. He says they're serving familiar dishes with "top notch" delivery, built on a solid foundation of excellent, mostly locally-sourced produce, and it's consistently good.
Singled out for praise is a rosemary focaccia with gubbeen cheese and salami, "excellent" fish and chips, and a fried Macroom halloumi salad - "a most cracking lunch dish altogether", and the children's menu sounds a lot better than most, with lamb quesadillas and house-made chicken goujons. He says that although they're not reinventing the wheel, the food was "sublimely tasty" and the space cosy and intimate. Read his review here.
More next week.