There were some very happy restaurants sharing their reviews on social media this weekend, and a couple that were probably wishing theirs would just disappear. But first up, the good.
In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness is back at Fish Shop, Queen Street, three years after her last review, and the score's gone up. She said the four course no choice tasting menu left her in "food heaven", and gives the food and ambience 9/10, with value getting a perfect 10/10. The experience started with a failed attempt at getting into their more casual venue on Benburb Street for wine and snacks, which she says was "less charming" than when she visited with a press group a few weeks previous. Ain't that always the way.
The food sounds flawless, with snacks of pickled gurnard, salt pollack salad, and deep-fried turbot trimmings - "fish without the chips", a first course of North Dublin razor clams, a second of turbot with beurre blanc and Irish vegetables, and to finish roasted rhubarb with buttermilk ice-cream. All the yums. They added on an extra course of Killeen goat's cheese at the end, not wanting to leave, and she says that Fish Shop are preparing impeccable ingredients simply. Read her review here.
More love from Lucinda O'Sullivan in the Sunday Independent, for new neighbourhood restaurant Circa in Terenure, who by all accounts have gotten off to a flying start with both Ernie Whalley in the Sunday Times and Leslie Williams in the Irish Examiner leaving very impressed, as did Lucinda. Despite being wary of the "museli-millennial generation behind the stove" (whatever that means), she thought the food was "sublime", at great prices.
Everything sounds like a highlight, including tuna tartare in a seaweed vinegar, organic chicken and foie gras terrine, pressed pig belly with wild garlic, and Toonsbridge mozzarella with pumpkin seed praline, prunes and butternut squash. A Kaffir lime parfait for dessert was "stunningly flavoured", and she calls it "high-end food at low-end prices in a casual setting", saying "what more could you want?" (Review not currently online)
Somewhere that probably weren't as happy flicking through the weekend papers are Dolce Sicily, who recently moved to a bigger premises on South Anne Street. It's fair to say Tom Doorley in the Irish Daily Mail probably won't be running back, describing the starters in particular as "not good". Fritto misto was too salty with overcooked vegetables and grey, overdone tuna, and aubergine parmigiana reminded him of his own after it had been reheated a few times... Awkward.
Mains were better, with a red wine and radicchio risotto "perfectly cooked", and pappardelle pasta with guanciale, porcini mushrooms and leeks "deeply savoury". Tiramisu was "adequate" if over sweet, and a nutty chocolate mousse looked like "something one of Italy's gelato companies do". Not exactly a home run then. Sounds like he should have stuck to their amazing canoli. (Review not currently online)
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis calls Andy Noonan's fire-focused joint Fowl Play "barbecue heaven", applauding the decision to only use free-range Irish chicken, and enjoying the "lovely" rotisserie chicken and the "sexy, messy and glorious" chicken burger. The hand-cut chips were the only real downer - "soggy, wedge-style things" - and she praises the interesting selection of beers, ciders, stouts and spirits. Read her review here.
In the Irish Times Catherine Cleary gives a deft appraisal of the restaurant at the five-starred Sheen Falls Lodge in Kerry, saying it has "real kitchen talent", but not enough of the place on the plate. It's summed up with a dessert of dark chocolate parfait, milk chocolate mousse and passion fruit sorbet which left her sad, because it could be served anywhere from Dubai to Dunboyne, saying "I’d kill for some back garden rhubarb, buttery shortbread and clotted cream from a soot black Kerry cow."
Unusually she dined alone, so we only get a snapshot, but for the most part food was "brilliantly executed", with "beautiful" langoustines, "perfect" Dover sole, and the only oddity an amuse bouche of carrot and cumin soup - that the best you got? She reckons if the kitchen can put more of the place on the plate Sheen Falls will be "perfect dining". Read her review here.
In the Irish Examiner Joe McNamee reviews O'Mahony's of Watergrass Hill, a fourth-generation gastropub in Cork, with "a commitment to using the very best of local, seasonal Irish produce in the kitchen". He calls it "solid cooking, very tasty fare", with standouts including "gorgeously caramelised" Ballycotton ray wing in a Longueville cider cream, Kilbrack celeriac with ramsons, Ballyhoura mushrooms, and cured egg yolk, and a lamb rack with a fritter of pressed lamb shoulder, peas, charred onion, salsa verde and "terrific" homemade chips.
Desserts of panna cotta and treacle tart were pleasing, and only the "anaemic" wine list let things down, but he's told it's a work in progress - it sounds like the non-alcoholic offerings were better. He gives it 8/10 for food and 9/10 for value, and you can read the full thing here.
Finally in the Sunday Times Ernie Whalley revisits Orchid Chinese Restaurant in Ballsbridge, and it sounds mainstream in the extreme. He calls it watered down and serviceable, despite some pleasant dishes. Read that here.
More next week.