All the middling reviews this week, without a whole pile to make you rush off the couch and out to eat, except for a reincarnation of an old favourite in Sandymount and lots from the Sunday Business Post's best restaurants list.
Apart from those featured in the SBP's "101 Great Irish Restaurants", the winner of this week's reviews is Crudo in Sandymount, a new incarnation of Dunne & Crescenzi from the owner's two sons. We've been eyeing this one up for a while due to their excellent insta game, and according to Lucinda O'Sullivan in the Sunday Independent it all tastes as good as it looks. Suppli (like arancini) came with confit duck, apple and hazlenut, and buffalo burrata was "divine", while polpette (meatballs) with chicken and truffle were "very elegant".
For mains they had a white rabbit ragu with tagliatelle, causing her to warn those "newfound vociferous vegans" not to fire darts from their fake twitter handles as this was "not your fluffy white pet bunny or anything to do with Alice in Wonderland". Glad that was cleared up. Panna cotta with blood orange, hazelnuts and basil oil was "delicious", and she found the shelves of wine surrounding them "very comforting". True dat - the adult equivalent of a baby blanket. (Review not currently online)
A slightly less satisfactory Italian experience for Catherine Cleary who was in Gigi in Ranelagh (which Lucinda also loved a few weeks ago). She found it all a bit retro (except for the prices which are bang up to date and then some), particularly the glacé cherries (on top of gorgonzola on toast), the long wooden pepper grinder ("a ghost prop from restaurants past"), and the bare wooden tables and chairs that "look like they were borrowed from someone's nan's front room".
A rustic, chunky liver paté tasted of "gutsy home cooking", but cod was underwhelming with the accompanying zucchini fritti watery and oily, and ravioli stuffed with purple potatoes and mascarpone was "fine in a blandly inoffensive way", apart from the chewy pasta which she compares to ear-lobe gristle. Mouth-watering. Desserts of fluffy tiramisu and chocolate mousse were the best part of the night, and she says she's a fan of the restaurants serving "ladlefuls of atmosphere with food that is merely fine", which seems like an odd thing for a food critic to say but there you go. She gives it 6/10 calling it "enjoyably relaxed but maybe a bit too relaxed about the food". Read her review here.
More shoulder-shrugging from Katy McGuinness who was at recently opened Xi'an Street Food on South Anne Street. She was struck with the curse of having already experienced phenomenal Xi'an food at the renowned Xi'an Famous Foods in New York (and if you want the real deal closer to home it's worth getting on a plane to try Xi'an Impression in London), so was probably set up for failure.
She liked the lamb roujiamo burger (although her son didn't), and the salty, spicy green beans with pork mince, but the noodles in the house speciality of biang biang noodles were stodgy rather than slippery, and aubergine in a hot garlic sauce was neither hot or garlicky enough. They also didn't respond to a query from her afterwards about where their pork, lamb and chicken comes from - rookie. She says the food is cheap, the portions huge and some of it is "damn tasty", but gives the food 6/10 overall. Review not currently online but should be soon here.
In the Irish Examiner Leslie Williams checks out new Japanese spot Sisu Izakaya near St Stephen's Green, and questions whether authenticity is everything. The food sounds mixed, with cod tempura nice but under seasoned, tataki beef "tender, sweet-savoury and delicious", and dragon roll sushi "a solid B grade".
The lunchtime €10 bento box and the kimchi beef ramen get a solid thumbs up, and he says that while it's "not necessarily the place to bring your homesick Japanese English-language student ... it is a good addition to Dublin’s dining scene." He gives the food 7/10 and you can read his review here.
In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley was enjoying the cocktails, and to a lesser degree the food, at Cask in Cork. It sounds like the ambience was great (pleasant and enthusiastic staff, a window table to "watch Cork strolling by"), and the drinks faultless (including a "superb" negroni), but the food was mixed, with "bland" guacamole, a Nordic style 'pizza' lukewarm with under-melted cheese, and black pudding and pork belly sliders with onion jam "a little too sweet".
The best thing they ate was the white chocolate and raspberry crème brûlée, "as smooth as silk" with a "properly crisp" topping, and coffees were just okay. He ends by saying that the bar is impressive both in appearance and in content, but they need more attention to detail when it comes to the food. (Review not currently online).
In the Sunday Business Post, they released their yearly "101 Great Irish Restaurants" list with 33 in Dublin. New additions this year are The Saddle Room in The Shelbourne, Variety Jones, Hang Dai, Oliveto, Wilde at The Westbury, The Old Spot, Locks and Rosa Madre.
Dropped from last year's list are Heron & Grey (now reopen as Liath), The Pig's Ear, Ely IFSC (replaced with Ely on Ely Place), Forest & Marcy, Lobstar, Delahunt, Mr Fox, Old Street, and Asador. Get the full list here.
Finally Ernie Whalley reviews Shelbourne Social in this week's Sunday Times and finds himself pleasantly surprised, despite the tranch of underwhelmed critic reviews that came before. He compares it to having the last throw in a game of pétanque, when you can either roll your boule gently up to join the rest, or plunge it into the middle and send the rest flying, which is what he did. Read that here.
More next week.