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This Week's Critic Reviews

This week, all the superlatives - one of the best restaurant openings of 2019, probably the best Middle Eastern food in the country, and a café that gives a glimpse of a better future, plus, food that's just a bit Doolally.

In the Irish Examiner, Leslie Williams is as enthused about Mister S as we were, calling it "a joy", and "one of the best openings of 2019". Smoked chicken had "creamy, rich, smoky flavours", the Tomahawk pork chop was "a densely flavoured succulent wonder", and his favourite was the Angus short-rib - "a big meaty slab of ever so slowly cooked beef with complex smoky flavours." They liked both desserts, and the "gorgeous" wine, and he says that Mister S is serving "some of the best tasting and best-value barbecue food in the country". He gives the food and value 9/10, and you can read his review here.

In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness gives the new menu at The Old Spot the once over, finding "properly tasty" gambas pilpil, "impeccable" roast Texel lamb and pork belly with silky mashed potato, cabbage and morteau sausage - "all manner of savoury deliciousness". It wasn't all good news though. Monkfish was let down by under-seasoned pea risotto, and crispy hen's egg with smoked haddock brandade was "strangely bland", but a choux bun with praline, chocolate and salt caramel for dessert, and some gluggable, natural gamay got things back on track. She says The Old Spot is "exactly what a gastropub should be", giving the food and value 8/10, and you can read her review here

In the Sunday Times Niall Toner is first in the door of new Press Up opening Doolally, and thought the mild curries, eye-wateringly expensive fit out, and the whole five prawns in his €24 jalfrezi was, well, Doolally (flashbacks to those Old Post Office Reviews). He does however heap praise on some bone marrow naan, the non-alcholic drinks, and a rose and pistachio rice pudding, comparing it to ambrosia (of the Gods, not of the Bird's Eye). Read that here.

In the Sunday Independent, new opening Ripasso in Bray managed to impress Lucinda O'Sullivan, who thought their alcoves were "snazzy", their calamari "looked cool", and their paccheri pasta with scampi and stracciatella was "a show-stopper". Burrata was "light and fresh", lamb cutlets were "deliciously tender", and a vegan chocolate mousse for dessert was "robust" - not sure if that's good or bad. Service from "bearded" (read: hipster) owner Gabriele Recchia was "welcoming and easy", she reckons the wine list has plenty for Italian wine buffs, and calls it "a good day at Bray all round". (Review not currently online)

In the Irish Times Catherine Cleary thinks that Cork's Good Day Deli offers "a glimpse of a better food future", thanks to the sustainable ethos driving the café. She says it's easy to forget the flavour when you're focusing on virtue, but that's not the case here, with fresh, zingy fish tacos, nutty crisp chips, and a financier meringue with "the juiciest raspberries" she's had in decades. She says Good Day Deli is "full of these kinds of connections with Cork’s plentiful supply of gardeners, growers and makers", and is "a delicious education in sustainable food". She gives it 9/10, and you can read her review here.

In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley makes the bold claim that Mezze in Tramore, Waterford, "probably has the best Middle Eastern food in the country". Chicken shawarma was nothing like that in fast food joints, with "succulent", "generously seasoned" meat, salads were "glorious", and falafel were the best he's had "outside of North Africa". Hummus was "excellent", quinoa "delightfully nutty", and zhug (green chilli hot sauce) "electrifyingly effective". He calls it "a splendid lunch full of flavourful surprises and new experiences", and says the falafel and salad plate is a bargain at €8.50. (Review not currently online)

Finally in the Sunday Business Post, Gillian Nelis says don't go to The Olde Post Inn in Cavan looking for experimental cooking, but do if you’re after "the culinary equivalent of a great big bear hug."  A bacon and cabbage terrine with leek cream was salty, flavoursome and buttery, a herb-crusted loin of venison was "beautifully cooked", and Dublin Bay prawns in filo pastry with red onion marmalade and mango mayo were "a seafood triumph". A rhubarb baked Alaska was as good as her granny used to make, and she says that businesses in our border counties need as much support as they can get over the next while, so it's a good time to think about paying them a visit. Read her review here.

More next week.

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