This Week's Critic Reviews
A bit of a surprising start to the weekend with Catherine Cleary in the Irish Times giving a kicking to Circa in Terenure. After nothing but glowing reviews so far, this was a bit of an unexpected one, and it sounds like she was in a bad mood from the start, referring to how "hipster creep" - harsh - is blurring the border between Dublin 6 and 8, and the fact that the bartender had a man bun. She thought the buttermilk battered rabbit was "beyond bland", pig belly "spongy and flavourless", and ray wing "watery and flaccid". Zero holding back then.
She says she's bewildered by the lack of flavour, and cites the food provenance as "minimal" , which seems odd considering they've been quite vocal about all of the Irish produce they're using, something that's been noted in other reviews. This one has already ruffled a few feathers, with one critic, who previously gave the food 9/10, showing up last night in support of said man bun, but we hear that customers were also calling the restaurant yesterday to show their support and disagree with the mighty one, and at the end of the day, that's who a restaurant lives or die on. She gives them 6/10 and you can read the review here.
In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness took a trip to free-range (soon to be organic) egg farm Magner's in Tipperary, and they fed her scones so good she had to see where they came from. Off she went to Dooks Fine Foods in Fethard, where a lamb, sunflower seed and lovage burger had "good flavour", sausage rolls were "excellent", and rhubarb cheesecake, flourless chocolate cake and carrot cake were "all quite lovely". She gives the food 8/10 and you can read her review here.
In the Daily Mail Tom Doorley marvels at how Ireland is becoming such a cosmopolitan, multi-cultural country, after a Palestinian feast at Izz Café in Cork. The family behind it spent a year and a half in direct provision, before starting to sell their food at Mahon Point Market, and they've just opened their own bricks and mortar site, complete with Darina Allen to cut the ribbon (cue lump in throat). Safe to say he loved it - the hummus was "proper", baba ghanoush "light and fluffy", and stuffed vine leaves were "freshly lemony".
Baby aubergines stuffed with walnuts were "rather lovely", tabouleh was authentic, and puffed manaeesh flatbreads topped with beef and chicken were "perfectly pillow-shaped", with yoghurt and pomegranate seeds on the side "an attractive foil". Desserts were enjoyable but heavy and very sweet, and he was suitably impressed that the spread for two came to just €50. (Review not currently online)
In the Sunday Independent Lucinda O'Sullivan says she found "bliss by the sea" at The Bayview Hotel in East Cork (the lady loves a hotel). She says head chef Kieran Scully is "under the radar in the shouty, show-off social-media cheffy stakes of today" (sounds of an axe being ground) and says his food his food is "top notch on all levels". She loved her ray with salsify and rhubarb, as well as "impressive" lamb breast, "superb" pan-fried John Dory and confit duck legs "falling off the bone". Hazelnut semifreddo for dessert was also "superb", as was the wine. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Examiner Joe McNamee was at Everetts in Waterford, which he says is serving "the best food in Waterford". High praise for whipped Knockalara sheep’s cheese rolled in wild garlic with roast red pepper puree and violet artichokes, and Wexford scallops in chicken jus with braised Andarl farm pork belly and pickled dried apricot; "mollifying pea puree smoothing over boisterous notes in the liaison" - the line of the week.
Slow cooked shoulder of Comeragh lamb rolled in lemon, parsley and garlic with pearl barley and lamb jus won the battle of the mains, and the cheeseboard took no prisoners with "sweet, salty crozier blue, rich, creamy Ballylisk triple rose, from Co Antrim, and a bolshie honking Époisse". He calls it a "cracking little restaurant", but reckons they could dial it up to 11, and if they do, "we'll be talking about a true national contender". Read his review here.
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis is lamenting the lack of value at The Green Barn in Burtown House, Kildare. Her €77 car crash lunch included less than generous starters, an hour-long wait for a main of pork that still had the string on it, and children at the next table at breaking point due to long wait-inflicted starvation. She took exception at paying €10 for a small lime and coconut slice and an americano, calling them "city centre prices", and says that while the grounds and all the talking about growing their own might be lovely, if they can't service the room, do justice to the ingredients and provide fair value, "what's the point?". Read that here.
Finally in the Sunday Times, Ernie Whalley was at Michelin-starred Ichigo Ichie in Cork, and says if you're interested in food you should save up, sell your second car or empty your children's piggy bank to get there. Read that here.
More next week.