Barely a bad word this week from Dublin to Dingle - with the exception of some stringy beef and watery cauliflower, but all was forgiven.
Two critics gush about seaside-situated Mamó this weekend. In the Irish Dail Mail Tom Doorley hopes they never take the "delightful" cod chip (confit potato with taramasalata) off the menu, saying he could have eaten "vast plates" of them. A starter of tarragon gnocchi with king oyster and shiitake mushrooms was "silky and delicate", while another of seared bonito, avocado, sesame and yuzu was "simpler but not less lovely". He thought that in comparison to the "jewel-like explosions of flavour" in the snacks and starters, the main courses showed "a reluctance to mix things up", but "commendably so."
Black pollack with romesco, charred courgette and razor clams had sharpness, sweetness and salinity, while pork belly with sobrassada and coco de paimpol beans (the bean of the moment) had "exquisitely tender" meat and a deeply savoury broth. Blackberry parfait with crunchie like shards of Howth honey "tasted properly of itself" (another phrase for the list), and he calls it "an excellent meal", while also thinking that the kitchen is only getting into its stride, and the really dazzling stuff is still to come. (Review not currently online)
It sounds like Niall Toner from the Sunday Times was there within a day or two of Tom as they had an almost identical meal. He claims the clams with drinkable olive oil, garlic and chargrilled toast made him so emotional he knocked over his glass of wine, and heaps similar praise on the tarragon gnocchi, brill with romesco, charred courgette and razor clams and that blackberry parfait. He says it's the best restaurant in Howth and worth the outing wherever you live (and we agree). Read his review here.
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis says the Andarl pork tomahawk at Mister S "will blow your mind" if you grew up with an Irish mammy who incinerated pork chops - "Who knew it could taste this good?" Gambas in a bisque butter on flatbread had "an incredible amount of flavour", the smoked Angus shortrib was another example of "great cooking" and the brown butter and miso roasties were "peak potato". The salted caramel bubble pudding for dessert was too rich for her, but another of strawberries, elderflower, sponge and yoghurt was "great". She says it makes her weep to think of the money people are paying for mediocre food in Dublin when you can eat this well for €50 a head including drinks (Amen to that), and that they're dolling out "superb food, great value, a really warm welcome from the young staff and a buzzing atmosphere". Read the full review here. Read our Mister S once over here.
In the Irish Times Catherine Cleary is heaping yet more praise on a new opening - this time Spitalfields in Dublin 8, summing it up with one of our favourite lines of the weekend: "the leap from a packet of dry-roasted peanuts ripped from the cardboard strip beside the till (if you’re lucky) to an €18 bar snack of grilled bread, Perle Imperial caviar and sour cream is audacious." She says she rarely eats meat these days, but the "less is better" beef dish of cheek and bone marrow Parker House roll is "the best in town", while a brother with shittake mushrooms, sweetcorn and an egg yolk was "a miso laced bowl of warmth".
A juicy fillet of slip sole with grapes, potted brown shrimp and rainbow radishes was jazzy, Crown Prince pumpkin wedges with cooked burrata (controversial) and dukkah was "as satisfying as meat", and the only disappointment was some watery roast cauliflower. A hazelnut and chocolate mille-feuille for two was "a Mannings Bakery close-of-day scale shoebox of a portion with hazelnut and chocolate creams piped between layers of freshly baked pastry", and she gives them 9/10, calling it "a Dublin pub with deliciousness squared." Read the full review here.
In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness was trying to coax out an overdue baby (not hers) with a meal at Pickle on Camden Street. It sounds like they thought the amount of food rather than the spiciness would do the job as this was a feast and a half, but she says they took enough home for a substantial lunch the next day. She calls the food "delicious, considered, distinctive", like the sharing chaat ki rehdi - a pick-and-mix of vegetarian street-food dishes - with deep-fried kale leaves topped with coconut and green chilli yoghurt, semolina 'bubbles' (pani poori) filled with potatoes, pomegranate and mint and coriander-infused spiced water, and aloo tikki chaat - potato cakes served with chickpeas, sweet yoghurt and date and tamarind chutney.
Some of the other dishes in the procession included a Khatti fish curry with stone bass, onion, green chilli, tomato, preserved lemon, fresh coriander and house-made lime pickle; farmer's butter chicken with fenugreek, ginger, green chilli and cardamom in a tomato sauce with garlic, coriander and onion; a lamb and bone marrow curry complete with a piece of bone full of marrow to be sucked out, and a slow-cooked black lentil dahl - "the ultimate comfort food". Desserts were "a revelation" and she gives them 9/10 for food, value and ambience. Read the full review (and get extremely hungry) here.
In the Sunday Independent Lucinda O'Sullivan was in Kinsale at newly Michelin-starred Bastion, reminiscing about all the restaurants who've come before. She calls it "classic Michelin French-fine dining territory, with exquisitely prepared elegant food". The eight-course tasting menu featured dishes including a whole carrot with crumble and Velvet Cloud yoghurt, roasted cod with Jerusalem artichoke purée, Iberico ham and apple matchsticks, and a "superb" rabbit and foie gras roulade with golden raisins, Sauternes and violet mustard. She "wasn't wild" about some "stringy" beef fillet but the accompanying pickled girolles, candied hazelnuts, shallots and bay oil were "to die for". Dessert of French toast came with "mouth-watering" Frangelico-soaked medjool dates, salted caramel ice-cream and mascarpone, and as it often the case she ends without a wrapping up or final thought, but it all sounds lovely. (Review not currently online)
Finally in the Irish Examiner Joe McNamee was in Dingle at another recently Michelin-awarded Land to Sea - this time for a Bib Gourmand. A seafood appetiser plate of Dingle crab, home-smoked salmon, Glenbeigh Mussels and a Cromane oyster showed that the chef was "sensible enough to allow quality produce do the heavy lifting", and a charcuterie plate, with everything from saucisson sec to chorizo made in-house, was the best he's had in any Irish restaurant. A butternut squash and Cashel Blue pithivier was "deeply comforting", and John Dory with roasted lemon and caper butter was "excellent produce, superbly cooked". He says Land to Sea are serving "excellent food delivered with earnest, utterly heartwarming sincerity and an honesty of endeavour that is palpable", giving the food 8.5/10. Read his review here.
More next week.