In a week where tensions are high and Michelin-related rumours are rife, once again this weekend's reviews are all about the new openings - and at least a couple have the potential to be at the centre of next year's rumours. We'll be posting live from the Michelin awards in London tomorrow so head over to our social media channels from 16:00 for all the goss.
In the Irish Examiner Leslie Williams is the third critic to give their verdict on Spitalfields in The Coombe, despite it only opening two weeks ago. Like Gillian Nelis last week he also comments on the prices, calling some dishes "a little steep" - like the devilled eggs with two halves of an egg for €6 - ouch indeed. He very nicely says that it was only the third night and that often portion sizes end up getting tweaked, but paying punters might not be so forgiving.
He calls everything from the pastry section "outstanding", especially the warm sourdough with dried leek powder Cuinneog butter, and that beef cheek and bone marrow Parker house roll starter was "the dish of the evening" - although the cock-a-leekie pie for two was a close second. He bravely asked for off-menu chips and they obliged - he recommends everyone does the same as they were "chunky but crispy and fluffy". Crème caramel was "wobbly and creamy-rich", while coconut & lime sorbet had "a perfect balance of flavours". He calls the meal "almost perfect ...particularly impressive so early in their run", giving the food 8.5/10 and value 7/10. Read his review here.
In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness calls the food at Potager "delectable", saying it's made Skerries "a destination". She praises the "hyper-seasonal approach", and the fact that they're using "some of the best growers in the area" to make dishes including "exemplary" bread with fresh ricotta and kale pesto. "Iridescent-skinned" cured mackerel with greenages and cucamelon was "art", wood pigeon "paired beautifully" with beetroot, blackberry and chocolate, and a tangy Velvet Cloud sheep's yoghurt sorbet with figs, lemon curd and honeycomb was "delightful". She calls it "a sophisticated food experience without appearing to try too hard", and gives them 9/10 for food, ambience and value. Read her review here.
In the Sunday Independent Lucinda O'Sullivan is lamenting Dun Laoghaire's deteriorating main street and "general air of down and out", calling new opening Caspar and Giumbinis "a very welcome addition", but you might call it a meal of two halves. Starters bombed, with a prawn cocktail containing "mushy, watery and overcooked" prawns and a "dreary Marie Rose sauce", while dressed crab was not classic dressed crab, but two "quenelles of a flavourless crabmeat" on sourdough. After that things improved with "beautifully cooked" Dover sole, "excellent" steak frites and a dessert of lemon curd, raspberry sorbet and pink peppercorn meringue which was "really lovely", while service was also "excellent". (Review not currently online).
In the Sunday Times Dara Flynn (deputy lifestyle editor) is in the restaurant reviewer's chair this week, and does a decent analysis of Le Perroquet on Leeson Street. Apart from the too dim lighting and the OTT mock-vintage posters covering the walls she liked most of the food (just don't mention the poor carrots). Read her review here.
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis was in new Italian Ripasso in Bray, where "value abounds" and food was "generously sized". Highlights included squid with chargrilled fennel, rigatoni all’amatriciana with guanciale, and a satisfyingly wobbly burrata which produced "distinctly orgasmic sounds from across the table" - SBP apparently not so PG. A Nutella and ricotta cannolo with pistachios was too good to share but the chef's selection of desserts was a mixed bag, with a tiramisu custard tart "okay" and a vegan chocolate mousse "very good". Between the value, the friendly service and the other things on the menu she wished she'd ordered, she says she can see herself eating there regularly. Read her review here.
In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley says the arrival of Goldie - Fish and Ale in Cork is "one of the most exciting things to happen in food in the city for a very long time." He calls it "a very cool contemporary restaurant run by young, cheerful people", and says they're succeeding "superbly" on delivering a short, local seafood based menu with "no cheffy faffing about". A nibble of prawn cocktail, crisps, cultured cream and seaweed "set the tone for the meal", and was followed by seared, devilled sardines "as fresh as the morning dew" (below), while whole roast Dover sole with caper noisette and kale was "first rate fish cooked perfectly". A dessert of mascarpone and espresso mousse with a chocolate marquise brought out all the superlatives, including "considerable brilliance", "decadent" and "utterly indulgent", and the only thing he bemoans is the "perfunctory" wine selection. (Review not currently online)
Finally in the Irish Times Catherine Cleary calls The Muddlers' Club in Belfast "one of the city's best restaurants", with food that over-delivered from the "terse list of bare bones words" on the menu. 'Seatrout, caesar, broccoli' tasted "so deliciously of river and sea" with Caesar salad sauces and swirls, meaty, savoury, smoked broccoli, and anchovy cream for "tang". Crab bisque had "sweet threads of the freshest crabmeat", and a courgette plate featured more iterations of the vegetable than we could imagine. A plum, white chocolate and coconut ice-cream dessert (below) brought everything "to a lovely end" and she says that The Muddlers Club owner and former Ox chef Gareth McCaughey has "learned from the best to do his own very impressive thing." She gives it 9/10 and you can read the full thing here.
More next week.