All about the new Dublin-based openings this week, and the poor guys at Spitalfields barely had the curtains open without two critics barging through the door in search of cock-a-leekie pie and bone marrow parker rolls. Their takes on the new "pub with a restaurant" in The Coombe" however were slightly different...
Tom Doorley showed up on night two and spends most of his review apologising for it, issuing many, many caveats about how early it was to be judging a new opening - something that doesn't appear to bother some of his fellow critics. He says Spitalfields has "lots of character and charm", and that there's "nothing average" about it, but that not everything was perfect. Something that was perfect was a simple dish of Poulard clams with 'nduja and parsley served with toasted sourdough - "brave, refreshing and simply lovely", but a hollowed out avocado shell with crab, guacamole and trout caviar could have had more flavour.
Iberico pork schnitzel with smoked eel and gremolata was "juicy, intensely flavoured acorn-fed pork", which he "loved every scrap of", but a slip sole with girolles, grapes and brown butter still had pin bones in it, which was "pretty unforgivable". Apart from that it was "a decent dish". Crème caramel for dessert was "rich and smooth", while aged comté was "a generous slice", and he calls it "an impressive performance given how early our visit was". (Review not currently online)
Gillian Nelis in the Sunday Business Post also liked the "spruced up" pub, but had a few gripes with some numbers on the menu. She calls the food "tasty but pricey", saying a starter of beef cheek Parker House roll with bone marrow gravy was "a nice dish", but she's "not sure it was 14 quid nice". Four smoked purple potatoes at €6 fell into the same category. She "loved" the Old Dublin gravadlax, the "delicious" pork iberico secreto schnitzel, and the cock-a-leekie pie to share was "the standout dish of the night". Desserts were "good", with a sharing millefeuille stealing the show, but she thinks the pricing and portion sizes of some dishes needs to be tweaked. Despite this she says their "great" cooking and "warm welcome" will ensure they're there for the long haul. Read her review here.
A worse weekend for new Indian Doolally, whose food Lucinda O'Sullivan says "didn't deliver" - are you bored yet of this being the summary of every review of every new Press Up opening? Ground lamb cakes (below) were "dense, dry little patties", lentil dumplings were "chalky and hard ... like mini golf balls", and a bowl of broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and spinach tasted like "a 1970's country hotel". Lamb chops marinated with raw papaya was "the only saving grace", and Keralan veal fillet was "good", but a rice kheer pudding for dessert was "very light-weight". She ends by saying don't come here for the food, but if you're after "a fun see-and-be-seen night out" you might like it. An alternative to The Ivy perhaps. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Times Catherine Cleary says Soup Ramen in Dun Laoghaire is serving "the best ramen in Dublin", a sentiment we also made recently. She says their deep-fried kimchi is better than chips, cauliflower with peanuts and lime is "exactly as delicious as it sounds", and a halloumi spice bag "thrilled" a non meat eater. The ramen was the knockout, with bright flavours, a pork broth that was "milky and nutty", a "comforting broth" and a seasoned egg which was "fresh and funky". The only disappointment was a seasonal salad with peas, broccoli and pickled cucumber - "almost flavour free" - but a black chai ice cream affogato topped with candied pistachios was "a feel-great end to a gorgeous meal". She calls Soup Ramen "a stunner", saying it should be a destination restaurant, and you can read the full thing here.
In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness finds Lilliput Evenings at Lilliput Stores in Stoneybatter "charming", with staff who are as "simpatico" as she's encountered in ages. Despite the plates of food arriving too fast, making them eat quicker than they'd like, it sounds like they ticked all of the seasonal/well-sourced/deliciousness boxes. She suggests pouncing on the Elmhurst tomatoes with aioli, sardines and black olive on bread, as well as the baba ganoush with pickled cucumelon and radish, and butterbeans with caramelised leeks, roasted fennel and gorgonzola. Baby potatoes with dill were the only "bland" downside, and dessert of poached pears with creme fraiche, orange custard and a ginger and cardamom biscuit had interesting flavours but "grainy" fruit. She gives them 8/10 for food and value, saying the food is good and the vibe is charming, and you can read her review here.
In the Sunday Times Niall Toner reckons you're going to lick the plate clean at Mister S, calling it fine dining at its casual-est. Unusually they didn't order any meat, sticking to fish and veg dishes, but he says the gambas with flatbread and bisque butter induced involuntary pleasure sounds, and describes the sauce as "dreamy, sexy". Just gonna leave that one there. Read his review here.
Finally in the Irish Examiner Joe McNamee was making a solo return visit to the Green Room Café in Springfield Castle, Limerick, after first discovering it on a food writers tour. He couldn't look past whatever was on the Agentinean-style Asado grill, which was the roast beef ‘mega sandwich’, with local "deeply flavoursome" Hereford beef, horseradish, gravy, "excellent" fresh leaves, tomatoes and earthy beets, but he wasn't impressed that it was served on batch loaf. He suggests sourdough might do the meat more justice, but "excellent" crispy chips somewhat compensated. Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake was "decent", beer and coffee was good, and he says although they're still finding their feet they deserve a leg up. Read his review here.
More next week.