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This Week's Critic Reviews

Another week, another critic blown away by Liath, and having been, we get it - you can read our take on it here. This week it's Lucinda O'Sullivan in the Sunday Independent who's calling Damien Grey "stunningly talented", and saying that Liath is the most significant restaurant opening of 2019. It's one big gush from start to finish - the space has been "honed to sleek sophistication", the chefs are "superb", and the atmosphere "relaxed and fun", and that's before we even get to the food.

She calls the tasting menu "an exquisite experience", despite not usually being a fan of them - "a subtle, sophisticated journey through complex tastes and textures", and she had the exact same menu as we did, loving every dish. Special shout out for that mind-bendingly good eel, anchovy and parmesan cone which she calls "divine". She was clearly high on the whole experience as she thought she had four desserts (there were three) but all were "sublime". She calls it "a complete culinary experience" and says the tasting menu at €78 is too cheap . Get in while you can - if you can. (Review not currently online).

Similarly satisfied sentiments from Leslie Williams in the Irish Examiner who was at Host in Ranelagh, which he reckons is the perfect place to get fat as there are loads of gyms, body clinics and 'aesthetic institutes on your doorstep". What a plan. Things started very well with fluffy, light focaccia topped with tomatoes, onions and top quality olive oil, and 'excellent' morcilla came with 'flavourful' artichokes and 'reasonably good' salami - can't win 'em all.

He also liked the burrata with aubergine and crab bruschetta, but the homemade pastas were the highlight. Silky pappardelle came in a meaty duck sauce, while the dish of the evening was the pumpkin stuffed cappellacci with walnuts (it really is the dream). Piri piri chicken and crisp cod were also enjoyable, and chunky chips were "expertly made", despite the garlic aioli that should have aioli dropped from its name until they treble the amount of garlic in it. Desserts were a let down, but he hopes they were just unlucky that day, and he says that Host would work anywhere, with their "tasty, well thought out dishes served in a convivial atmosphere." Read his review here.

Another happy critic in the Irish Times (everyone's feeling the love this week), where Catherine Cleary is uber impressed with Lucky Tortoise, which she calls a "creative, independent, cheap and enormously cheerful spot". They had everything on the menu (the €20 all in deal is the only way to go), the highlights being the scallion pancake, the kimchi, the okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) and the Taiwanese bun with tofu.

She was less fussed on the dumplings - "lost in the blizzard of food" - and the pork and lemongrass bun which didn't overly taste of lemongrass, but the hoisin beef bun with crisp vegetables and pickled cucumber was "the best". She says she says she likes Lucky Tortoise a lot, and that it has "the feel of a young operation that’s only going to get better". It gets 8/10 and we'd advise booking if you were planning on going this week - "the Cleary effect" and all that. Read her review here.

In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness is the second critic into Dublin 8 café and yoga hub Groundstate, giving it a whopping 9/10 for food, ambience and value. We had this as "one to watch" on our hottest restaurants in March list, and we're gona say it. It's officially hot. The croque madame sounds like reason enough to go - "Bread Nation malt sourdough, Gubbeen hot smoked ham, Dijon mustard, Wicklow Ban cheese bechamel, topped with a crispy fried egg, garnished with pickled onions and a side of house kimchi. Good god. Unfortunately it wasn't left on the pan long enough to reach optimal crisp/gooey tipping point, but she calls the flavours "spot on".

The flavour-packed La Resaca, with refried beans, paprika roast potatoes, wilted greens, salsa verde, cashew butter, pickled red onions and a fried egg would "raise the living from the dead", and was "both invigorating and properly tasty". Reason two to visit. They also enjoyed a mushroom version of the croque madame, and a bowl of tarka dahl which was "a bargain of a lunch". She's going back soon for the ultimate bacon sandwich, and we won't be far behind her. Read her review here.

In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley was in Galway at Hooked, and it's more of a history lesson than a restaurant review this week. After a lengthy discussion surrounding the reasons why Irish people don't eat enough fish, he says that Hooked "celebrates seafood in a way that is gloriously informal and fun". He only tried two things, a ceviche and monkfish goujons, but says there was a generosity there, with the cod ceviche "pretty well a meal in itself". He calls it "simply good food", with its side of guacamole and 'standard' tortilla chips.

The other dish of monkfish goujons were "broad, fat strips" in panko breadcrumbs with a "pedestrian" tartare sauce and "delightfully crisp twice-cooked chips". Despite one of the pieces of fish being underdone and pink he calls it "a simple and delicious dish", and says that people pay a fortune for sashimi, which is incredibly forgiving. (Review not currently online)

In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis was checking out The Munster Room, Waterford Castle's fine dining restaurant. She was really impressed with the food, particularly because she thinks it must be tricky walking the line between keeping the mature customers happy (diplomatic) and getting new ones to come in. She says the kitchen are sticking to "tried and tested flavour combinations but serving them in a fresh, modern way." Read that here.

Finally in the Sunday Times, Ernie Whalley visits Crudo in Sandymount, the next generation incarnation from Dunne & Crescenzi, and calls it stylish and unpretentious, with very enjoyable food. Read his review here.

More next week.

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