Deliciousness and disappointment in equal measures this weekend, starting with deliciousness.
In the Irish Times Catherine Cleary thinks she's found the anti-Five Guys, at Flipside in Sligo. After that somewhat controversial review of the US burger chain last year, where their veggie sandwich made her gag, Flipside's was "everything that was promised, firm and tasty, crisp on the outside like meat and lightly spiced to keep it interesting." A buttermilk-fried chicken burger with gochujang mayonnaise was also "gorgeous", but excruciatingly she doesn't tell us about the beef burger, most likely the cornerstone of the whole place, apart from saying that the kids' burger was "juicy" in a "good" brioche bun. Halloumi poppers were "the best veggie offering in a burger joint anywhere", and she calls Flipside "a real find".
In the same write-up she managed to detail a trip to surfer restaurant Stoked in Strandhill, where the food was "cheffier than the norm for an over-the-pub venue". Crab came lightly dressed lightly on red pepper with avocado, lemon emulsion and sourdough toast, oysters were "fresher than a pier jump", and Mexican beef-cheek chilaquiles were "breaded, thready, meaty croquettes". They were less keen on flash-fried squid with a sour burnt-lemon mayo, but she says Sligo is geting better every time she visits. Read her review(s) here.
In the Irish Independent it's a shocker for Loam in Galway from Katy McGuinness - and we're sure no one was more shocked than Katy herself, particularly as Loam was named best restaurant in Ireland at this year's Irish restaurant awards. She says they seem to have lost their mojo, with service that's "almost rude", food that's "good rather than thrilling", and the jarring detail of a plastic bottle of UK made soap in the bathroom of a restaurant with a three-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
Snacks were "dull", roast potatoes came with half of them brown and the other half colourless, and a dessert of parsley, rhubarb and woodruff begged the question "why?". Seriously though, why? Sweetbreads with lettuce, egg and a savoury crumb, and scallops with hen of the woods mushrooms and Jerusalem artichokes were "good", and lamb loin with turnip, broad beans and garlic scapes was "beautifully cooked", but while she gives the food 8/10, the ambience gets 5/10 and the value 7/10. Read the full thing here.
In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley had a "strange", "under seasoned" and partially burnt meal at Guinea Pig in Dalkey, whose menu he thought was straight out of the 1980's. Paté de foie gras was too cold, lobster "only tasted faintly of lobster", and strongly tasting lamb rump with mashed potato, vegetables and garlic puy lentils was "strange but pleasant enough". Duck was overcooked, came with un-summery root vegetables, and parts of the skin were black, causing them to leave most of it behind, and he calls the wine list "adequate ... with no great excitement". Considering the positive reviews off the bat when chef Jerome Fernandes took over the restaurant last year, you'd have to wonder if something's happened in the interim. (Review not currently online)
More disappointment in the Irish Examiner, where Leslie Williams is surprisingly nice about his 6.5/10 food at FX Buckley, complete with "stingy" bone marrow, unseasoned, under AND over cooked steaks, and un-chocolatey chocolate mousse. Not exactly selling it, but he says he wouldn't be afraid of returning. He praises the comprehensive and fairly priced wine list, good meat, and "properly crispy" beef dripping chips, but says that next time he'd be issuing specific cooking instructions to the kitchen, with their "less than perfect cooking techniques". We're sure that would go down well. Read his review here.
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis was filled with regret after a meal at the Wild Honey Inn in Clare, due to not ordering the rib-eye with horseradish butter that the editor of Michelin UK had shortly before giving them their star. The wild rabbit and foie gras terrine, crab cocktail with gazpacho, and blanquette of pork cheeks in a veloute of smoked bacon, beech mushrooms, broad beans and spinach don't sound like bad runners up, and neither do cherry clafoutis and poached pineapple for dessert. She describes chef Aidan McGrath's food as "classically delicious", with "flavour to beat the band", and you can read her review here.
In the Sunday Times Niall Toner is marvelling at all of the unctuous, gooey food at Shouk in Drumcondra, but despite the mass of praise throughout only scores it 3.5/5 - we'd definitely rate them higher. Read that here.
Finally from Lucinda O'Sullivan in the Sunday Independent, you guessed it. It's a list. A gastro-pub list. Getting a mention in Dublin are The Old Spot, The Legal Eagle, Botanic House, P Macs, Ryan's of Parkgate Street, The Dalkey Duck, carvery-central O'Neills and recently closed Bart's on South William Street - awks. They do however look like they're planning to relaunch as something different featuring music and Bloody Marys in 11 days time.
No critic reviews next week. Back in two.