Under the heading of "reviews we weren't expecting but actually why are we surprised" this week, Lucinda O'Sullivan in the Sunday Independent doesn't hold back when it comes to Frank's on Camden Street. The problems didn't relate to having to wait two hours for a table - they actually got right in - instead they consisted of "drisheen-style pudding" masquerading as morcilla, a small €12 plate of girolles, parmesan, chicken wings and aubergine, and the "cow fingers" in a dish of spiced beef barbacoa - a cut of cow she thinks is only suitable for "cooking, mincing or dog food!" More disgust that it was left on the bill after she complained.
No comment on dessert of charred apricots, caramelised yoghurt shards and heather honey - presumably a good thing - but she wasn't a fan of their system of not changing your glass between wines and cutlery between dishes, saying "there's something ugly and intrusive about having your big dirty knife and fork sitting up beside you between courses". She says she's had small plates with better ingredients and lower prices elsewhere, and wonders if it's all a case of the Emperor's new clothes. This in contrast with Catherine Cleary calling it her "new favourite restaurant", Tom Doorley calling it "sheer unalloyed delight", and Leslie Williams calling it a "wonderful addition" to the city. Can't win 'em all. (Review not currently online)
In contrast, the restaurant Lucinda loved last week, Le Perroquet, is on a winning streak, with both Catherine Cleary and Gillian Nelis falling for Nick Munier and team's French shtick. In the Irish Times Cleary says it feels like it's "been here for an age", with the savoury Parmesan French toast "one of the best dishes in the place". A fig and goats cheese salad was simple but made with the "good stuff", while lamb with crispy seaweed potatoes was "excellent", but she warns that the express €16 lunch menu would have left her hungry, and additional drinks, dessert and coffee can make the bill rack up. Despite herself she says she likes Le Perroquet a lot, saying "there's proper kitchen talent here", and giving them 8/10. Read her review here.
Gillian Nelis is in the same camp in the Sunday Business Post, saying she had "a most enjoyable evening" at Le Perroquet, also picking that savoury French toast as her favourite dish. She too loved the lamb dish, saying plate-licking may have occurred, and enjoyed a beef tartare with smoked sour cream, a chicken and mushroom ballontine, and a strawberry and ginger mille feuille for dessert. There's also an interesting bit of history about absinthe and how it developed into pastis, Le Perroquet's drink of choice. She reckons she'll be back again soon for more of their "inviting" small plates, and you can read the full review here.
In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness gives Little Mike's in Mount Merrion 10/10 for food, saying the famous seafood platter is "the stuff of dreams". She says the theme amongst starters of crispy soft-shell crab, seared scallops and prawns on toast, tempura ray wing, grilled Donegal octopus and wild sea trout with oat fed mussels was "deliciousness", with generous portions and not a notion to be seen. The platters sent them into a very happy food coma, and she calls Little Mike's "the best place to eat seafood in Dublin". Needless to say the team were very happy with this one. Read her review here.
In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley says the baked Alaska is reason enough to visit French bistro La Maison on Castle Market, and that lunch there was "a splendid, unashamed wallowing in culinary nostalgia". They ate "pretty as a picture" seabass ceviche, gazpacho that was "simple, refreshing, delicious", and lamb rump that was "juicy and properly seasoned", although slices of duck breast were "a little overdone". That baked Alaska, set alight at the table, was "huge and wonderful and dreamy", and they couldn't finish it, and he says it was good to go back to La Maison after a few year hiatus, because it never disappoints. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Examiner Joe McNamee was at Izz Café in Cork, owned by a Palestinian couple who were formerly in direct provision, but eventually managed to start selling their traditional dishes at a farmer's market, before opening Izz earlier this year. He says their tabbouleh with fresh herbs, pickled cucumbers, green chillis, olives and baby aubergine stuffed with walnuts, garlic and chilli is currently his "favourite thing in the world to eat", and "superb value" at €11.50. They were "besotted" with all of the makdous - Palestinian flatbreads - their favourite being topped with chicken, sweet braised red onions, pine nuts, and sumac, and he said that while "heartwarming stories are all well and good ... they don’t necessarily fill hungry bellies", so he was happy to report that it was "an extraordinarily inexpensive yet delicious repast. Read his review here.
Finally in the Sunday Times Niall Toner went all the way to Galway for the pancetta and pistachio lasagne at U Liotru, but it wasn't on the menu. Stinger. Luckily the regular lasagne, arancini and canoli meant it wasn't a wasted trip. Read his review here.
More next week.