This Week's Critic Reviews
Wondering how to get a foot firmly on the Dublin food map? Get yourself a visit from an international pop icon. We bet Blackrock Indian Ruchii couldn't believe their luck when Cher decided to climb the stairs to their dining room above a pub two weeks ago (and liked it so much she tried to go back the next night but they were full). After one lacklustre review from Ernie Whalley earlier this year (who compared it to a UK curry house), Tom Doorley paid a post-Cher visit for the Irish Daily Mail and calls it "divine". He sidestepped the 'Cher menu' (for realz, you can eat what she ate), loving a platter of starters including "succulent" tandoori chicken, "stunningly good" crispy, spicy cauliflower, and "revelatory" shredded pork in a sweet and sour tomato sauce. Kashmiri rogan josh was the best he's ever tasted (another "revelation"), and coconut marinated prawns with curry leaves and mustard seeds was "delicious". He says there's "so much to like about Ruchii", not least the "general sense of inventiveness and fun on the plate combined with great seriousness in the kitchen". If it's good enough for the Goddess of Pop... (Review not currently online)
In the Sunday Independent another critic is bowled over by Mamó in Howth, where Lucinda O'Sullivan praises the "dream team in a dream location". She says rather than the neighbourhood restaurant they've pitched it as, it's more likely to be "a hot destination where the locals will be battling for a seat", and says she'd cross Dublin Bay for those cod chips (confit potato topped with taramasalata) alone. Crisp sourdough with vadouvan butter made her "weak at the knees", salt-baked celeriac with pickled girolles, orange and red onion was "most gorgeous", and brill with cauliflower, capers and brown shrimp was "moist and juicy". Comeragh mountain lamb was "mouth-wateringly tender", and she says they felt smug as "multifarious hipsters and the great unbooked were politely turned away". The poor hipsters just can't catch a break. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness found simple things done well at Osteria Lucio, with the exception of a very small, very expensive arancino at €7. Handmade spaghetti with Irish cockles, squid, courgette and scallions was "quite perfect", but tagliatelle with a ragu of duck, spinach and pecorino was "dull", lacking in meaty richness. Tagliata (below) was "flavoursome" and came with a satisfyingly crunchy cabbage salad, and a salsiccia pizza was was good as she remembered from home deliveries. She says the high point was "a warm welcome, excellent hand-made pasta and proper, professional service" and gives them 8/10 for food, ambience and value. Read her review here.
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis is the second critic in the past few weeks to discover Riba in Stillorgan, which goes to show how effective a bit of social media self-promotion can be. She says based on the list of Irish producers they work with they were doing well before she even arrived, but a fritto misto with squid, prawns and cod with aioli and a green pepper, soy and chilli sauce was a great start. Flavoursome Sika venison from Wicklow came with vegetables that were "a joy" - "smooth as silk" celeriac, and cavolo nero that she'd eat a mountain of - and everything was Irish. Seafood tonnarelli with cockles, mussels, squid and prawns was "simple, and all the better for it", and an apple and blackberry crumble with zabaglione and ice-cream was her kind of crumble. She says she'll be back to spend her own money there because of the "very good cooking, the warm service and the commitment to supporting local growers and suppliers." Read her review here.
In the Irish Examiner Leslie Williams was on the beer at Rascal's taproom and pizzeria in Inchicore, all of which he thought were "excellent". Strangely the wood-fired pizza oven was low on wood so they were using gas, but he said it made "little difference as the bases had excellent charring and bubbling". Their three pizzas had "well-thought out flavour combinations" which allowed the bases to shine, but the winner was the "Blue Belle" with mozzarella, pear, Cashel Blue cheese, candied walnuts and rocket. They also enjoyed the "Meat Me In Inchicore" and "Here Comes The Hot Stepper", although kale on the latter didn't work - would it ever on a pizza? A chocolate brownie for dessert was "wonderfully gooey and sticky" and he says go and support your local brewery. Read his review here.
In the Sunday Times Niall Toner has done another two-for-one, with the headline inferring it's a review of Loose Canon, but half the review given over to a meal at The Seafood café in Temple Bar. Both get the ST seal of approval, but the Toner three stars (out of five) remains unmoved - although he says he was tempted to give a rare four. Read that here.
Finally in the Irish Times Catherine Cleary is eating in another museum - this time the Bistro in the Guggenheim in Bilbao - and it was so good she went two nights in a row (clearly more organised than Cher). She calls it "a hidden treat", just like the hummus that was revealed when they lifted up a fish head to be spread on warm bread. A salad of "tangy, sweet, slippery, Spanish tomatoes" was so good she was still thinking of it weeks later, tomato gazpacho with cubes of pickled watermelon was "life-enhancing", and her "creamy rice" had subtle saffron and "sweet, juicy clams". Caramelised sheep curd for dessert tasted like "a tangy meringue melded with a cloud", raspberry ice-cream with violet meringue was "summer in one spoonful", and coffee on the terrace overlooking the river was the icing on the cake. She gives it 9.5/10 calling it "food culture at its finest" and you can read her review here.
More next week.