This Week's Critic Reviews
This weekend's Irish Times review illustrates the importance of finishing the job after a restaurant rebrand. It's pretty widely known (and if not easily googled) that the former Dunne & Crescenzi in Sandymount has been taken over by the owners' two sons and rebranded as 'Crudo'. It's already featured in the critic reviews three times (as 'Crudo'), but CC flips between calling it 'Crudo' and 'Dunne & Crescenzi', noting that the only place she can see 'Crudo' is at the top of the menu, and Dunne & Crescenzi is still over the door. We're not sure if this is a misunderstanding on her part or an attempt to not confuse the Sandymount socialites, but either way, time to get a new sign lads.
Despite the name confusion, she calls it "a hearty neighbourhood place" with "rustic Italian cooking". Chargrilled asparagus on toast with whipped ricotta and an egg and mint dressing had a "picnic vibe off it, in a good way", battered monkfish was "lovely" and came with an equally lovely apricot and cumin ketchup, and veal with truffle gnocchi was an "all-Italian tribute". Her main of puttanesca with mackerel was "gutsy" but the leathery green olives had to go, and panna cotta to end was as good as any she's had in Dublin. She gives it 8/10 and says they're serving food "several notches above what you might get on a trip to the brighter lights of the city centre." And the even better news is that they're closing tomorrow for refurbishments - including a new sign. Read her review here.
In case we needed any more proof about how the standards in Irish food are currently going through the roof, Katy McGuinness in the Irish Independent gives her third set of full marks in two months to Aimsir, after also awarding faultless scores to Chapter One and Liath. We'd make a guess that this has never happened before - 10/10's (or in this case 30/30's) are a rarity, and to have three in such short succession is an eyebrow raiser. We presume it also made up for last week's insect in crap salad incident.
Like the critics before her she doesn't even attempt to go into all 18 courses, but cites standouts as the opener of violetta potato with Boyne Valley Bán cheese, pickled black garlic and Irish truffle, a Flaggy Shore oyster with roasted koji butter and apple balsamic, and the soda bread cooked in beef fat with "celestial" raw milk butter (above). She says Aimsir has "soul, a commitment to beauty and a deep understanding of flavour and texture", and urges you to go for yourself before the new Michelin guide comes out in Autumn and prices will surely go up. Read her review here.
In the Irish Examiner Leslie Williams is the latest critic lured back to Chameleon after their little refresh earlier this year (amazing what some new paint can do), and calls the food "supremely tasty". Particular praise for the "deeply flavoured complex Satay Ayam" with free-range chicken, the "pillowy soft" bao with pork belly and 'fish fingers' (not in the same bun), and the perkedel - a crispy potato and chickpea cake. He says the joy in Chameleon is in the mix of dishes and flavours to try, and recommends going with as many people as possible so you can have all the food. Read his review here.
In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley was living it large at Michelin-starred L'Ecrivain, where he says eating feels like "a proper hug", in comparison to some other restaurants cooking at the same level. Amuses bouches of ice cream cones filled with tuna tartare and Dublin Bay Prawns in Ketaifi pastry were "jewel-like and ethereal", and starters of foie gras and poached Irish lobster tail were "absolute classics". Earthy squab pigeon was "rich, moist, nicely bloody", and John Dory was "roasted to the nanosecond of perfection". Crème brûlée and cheese to end didn't let the standards slip, nor did the wine pairings throughout, and he calls it a "splendid repast". (Review not currently online)
In the Sunday Independent we're probably half way through Lucinda's summer of round-ups, and are counting the days until normal service resumes. This week it's her best seafood spots, and getting a mention in Dublin are Aqua in Howth, Fish Shop, Little Mike's, The Seafood Café and Sole. It's not currently online but clearly we've all got seafood on the brain as we also did a guide to the best places to eat it in Dublin last week. Find that here.
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis was very excited about taking a spin on the extended M11 to Wexford (it gets three mentions), but even without it says she'd go back to Crust in Wexford town. The Neapolitan style pizza with Irish ingredients "more than stands up to what the capital has to offer", with a base "as light as air", sauce "full of flavour", and a mushroom deluxe with smoked black ham and truffle oil is described as "a triumph". Affogatos for dessert were "great ice cream, topped with equally great coffee", and she recommends checking out the new road (and the pizza) for yourself. Read her review here.
Finally in the Sunday Times, new food critic Niall Toner is impressed by the whole, chargrilled fish at Prado - less so by the raw red pepper in the salad and the charred, bitter broccoli. He gives it 3.5/5 and you can read his review here.
More next week.