Good week for ramen. Bad week for, well, ramen.
We've long been lamenting the lack of ramen in Dublin in comparison to other capital cities so were disappointed with Catherine Cleary's disappointment in Stoneybatter's Ramen Kitchen. She said everything was going fine (bar some over zealous AC and unresponsive staff) until the food came - ouch. It's a bit of a 'read through your fingers' jobby, with yasi gyoza tasting of very little - "a puree of vegetables for a taste-averse toddler", and sushi stuffed with soft-shell crab that was "gnarly and chewier than the issues of the day". Pork bao were the only good bit, apart from buns so sweet they could feature on a dessert plate.
The nail in the coffin was the ramen itself, a pork version of which came with "milky and dull" broth, Japanese-style roasted pork belly - "soggy rounds of flaccid meat with no trace of crispness or roasted flavour", and beansprouts which were "funky and have the texture of stewed rhubarb". She couldn't even bring herself to taste the pickled egg "with its gluey yolk, placed appetisingly in the middle of this grey soup". She says that when you’re cooking ramen short cuts stick out like sore thumbs, and kindly says she hopes they got them on a bad night. She gives them 5/10, and you can read the full takedown here.
Despite having an almost identical meal, Lucinda O'Sullivan in the Sunday Independent loved it, calling ramen "the new cuisine" and "the latest star to strut the catwalks of our tastebuds". The one thing they did agree on was the yasai gyoza, with LOS calling them "flaccid" and saying she didn't like the flavour, but the soft-shell crab roll was "superb", and tempura battered jumbo prawns were "absolutely delicious".
She thought the exact same pork ramen was "a hearty bowl" that would "keep any trencherman happy", citing the "good slices of roast pork", and called the whole experience very enjoyable. Did CC get them on a bad day? Are her ramen standards higher? We'll probably never know... (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley was dining alone again (groan, we want to hear about all the food), this time at Crudo in Sandymount who by all accounts are winning right now. This is the third glowing review for the reinvigorated Dunne & Crescenzi, taken over by their two sons - amazing what a little refresh can do - and the man of little appetite liked it so much he managed a whole four courses, including suppli with confit duck, toasted hazlenut and apple purée that he reckons were fit to be served in Rome.
Chicken and truffle meatballs were "intensely savoury ... delicious", and pink, milk-fed veal with gnocchi, haricot beans and more truffle was one of the best things he's eaten in a long time. Tiramisu was "streets ahead of most" but he gives a nod to Grano saying that's the one to beat in Dublin. Staff were delightful, the wine list extensive and quirky, and we're just hoping Crudo can get a new sign up soon so people can figure out where they are. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness lists 30 of the best places for brunch in Ireland, with a focus on eggs and provenance - free-range only need apply. Among the ones that get the nod in Dublin are The Fumbally for the 'Fumbally Eggs', Overends at Airfield for their family brunch at €20 for adults and €10 for children, and Gertrude for their chicken and pancakes and soft scrambled eggs with crab.
Also making the list are Bibi's for their turkish eggs, Meet Me In The Morning for the recent special of gubbeen sobrasada and bechamel on challah bread (featured here), Klaw Seafood Café for the Omelette Arnold Bennett and Legit Coffee Co for their pulled pork Benedict (pictured). Get the full list here, and look our for our own feature on the best brunches in Dublin coming in this Tuesday's mail out.
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis was at 777 to try everything but the tequila (she's missing out). She thought the food was excellent, the music great and the staff lovely, and singles out the "punchy" tuna sashimi tostados, the magnificent dry-aged sirloin with miso-adobo glaze and sweetcorn purée, and the beautiful Iberico secreto with grilled chilli, peaches and sour cream. (We loved it all too - here's our our once over.) Read her review here.
In the Irish Examiner Joe McNamee finally gets to Cork city's most lauded restaurant, Ichigo Ichie. It's a funny one as it sounds like a meal of highs and lows, but the end score doesn't reflect it. It's one of those experiences where there are too many individual dishes to describe, but highlights included a "plump scallop, sesame-seasoned, blow-torched, bearing caviar and salted green chilli; alongside, a nori cone of salty-sweet aged tuna topped with truffled egg emulsion" - utterly sublime (and sounds it), and dashi with mitsuba (Japanese parsley), sudachi lime, Lough Neagh eel, hen of the woods and gingko nut, which triggers a "near-primal response".
To the not so good bits, grilled aged fillet of beef was "far from the best Irish beef I have tasted" and was too thickly sliced, pickles were "pedestrian", dashi cooked rice was too heavy, and dessert was "an oddity" of mochi with Azuki bean and "out-of-season, imported, bland strawberry", calling it a "penitential closer". After all that we were expecting a less than perfect score but he gives the food 9.5/10, which is as good as it gets really, saying that the meal wasn't perfect, but on occasions it sails close. Read his review here.
Finally in the Sunday Times, Ernie Whalley was at new kid on the block Circa in Terenure, calling it a worthy addition to the area with stylish cooking and inspirational touches. Read that here.
More next week.