This Week's Critic Reviews
All Dublin again this week, bar a trip to Lough Erne (*sits back and waits for capital-induced outrage to ensue*), and some happy, medium happy, and ever so slightly ripped-off feeling reviewers doing the rounds.
In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley is first in with his verdict on new pasta place Sprezzatura, and proclaims they're serving the best ragu he's found in Ireland. The meaty oxtail sauce came with "perfectly al dente" ribbons of pasta, "impeccable" gnocchi came with sage butter, and penne with nduja and Toonsbridge ricotta was "a simple triumph". He was surprised to find an Irish tomato salad "jumping with sheer flavour", and Toonsbridge straciatella was "rich, creamy and almost buttery".
He calls Sprezzatura "a breath of fresh air, not just in terms of sustainability and local produce, but also in putting it up to the so-called trattorias of Ireland" - meow, but also, fair - who serve "rubbish pasta with an Irish accent". He reckons it's as close to Bologna as you'll find in Ireland, and says he hopes the low prices (and presumably tight margins) can be sustained, so get in there and support them. (Review not currently online, read more about Sprezzatura here).
In the Sunday Independent Lucinda O'Sullivan liked new Dublin 8 addition Spitalfields, but had issue with some of the prices like Gillian Nelis a few weeks ago, peppering the review with shocked sounding dialogue like "How much did you say Biddy? In a pub? Are they mad?" You get the drift. They stuck to the small plates (how very 2019) and thought the yellow-tail tuna fillets with burnt orange and soy were "delicious". Half an avocado with crab meat and trout caviar was also "delicious" but she took umbrage with the €13 price tag, and Poulard clams with nduja were "tasty" but "again a tad petite" for €14. Coffee and orange creme caramel for dessert was "divine", and she calls Spitalfields "very good, Biddy, but pricey". (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Times Catherine Cleary is way more impressed with the Commons at Moli than Katy McGuinness was a few weeks ago, calling it "a new city favourite". She says it's "a different level" to what's happening in sister cafés Hatch and Sons, and her two favourites dishes were "properly delicious" roasted carrots with radicchio leaves, dukkah and a yoghurt-thick sauce, and the "beef tea" with spiced beef in a clear broth with carrots and horseradish crème fraîche. She says the Commons is still finding its voice, but "a few more tweaks and we’ve got a classic on our hands". She gives them 8.5/10 calling the provenance "fab", and you can read the full review here.
In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness seems lukewarm about Frank's on Camden Street, saying it feels "just a little too cool for school". They liked a dish of purple sprouting broccoli, hazelnut, parmesan and anchovies, but pumpkin with kale and curd was "nut hugely flavoursome" with "bland" curd. 'Salsify, walnut, pear' had flavours that were subtle ("perhaps too much"), but they did have a favourite in the form of the "most flavoursome" dish, quail, plum and chanterelles, although they would have liked some bread to mop up the tasty sauce. Not much comment about a dessert of chocolate, banana and peanut, other than that there was "good" ganache, and she wasn't a fan of an onion marmalade-smeared potato farl that came with a piece of 16 month old comté. She gives Frank's 7/10 for food, ambience and value and you can read her review here.
In the Irish Examiner it's another lukewarm-ish review from Leslie Williams of newly opened Cava on Camden Street from The Port House group. Apart from a complaint about the lack of hot padrón peppers, most of it was "as you would expect", with highlights including torreznos (crunchy fried pork belly pieces), morcilla with fried quail's egg, and jamon croquettas (but he does recommend side-stepping the chicken and spinach versions), and the best thing thing they ate were courgettes stuffed with chorizo and cheese in a light batter served in a ciabatta bun. Chorizo in wine was not worth the €8.50 price tag, but pastel de natas for dessert were "excellent", and he calls it "a great addition to this busy restaurant-filled street". (Review not currently online but should be soon here)
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis ended up at at FX Buckleys in Monkstown after a failed attempt to eat at what sounds like Kerb in Foxrock, blaming the wrong opening hours on their website (now fixed). She says she's still dreaming about the kidneys in a bacon and mushroom sauce, and both a fillet steak and a ribeye on the bone with grilled bone marrow, shallot purée and watercress and were things of "meaty beauty" and "full of flavour". Beef dripping chips and creamed spinach were "top notch", but a chocolate and orange mousse with hazelnut cream for dessert was "terrible" with a "grainy" mousse, "cheap tasting chocolate" and no flavour of orange, but despite the disappointing end they left happy. Read her review here.
Finally in the Sunday Times Niall Toner took a trip outside Dublin to Catalina in the Lough Erne resort in Eniskillen. He was suitably impressed with chef Noel McMeel's obsessive local sourcing, resulting in an eel dish of ecstasy, and in a Sunday Indo style development, the food pictures look like the critics own, rather than the usual polished sort we've come to expect from the ST. Tough times out there... Read his review here.