This Week's Critic Reviews
In this week's Irish Independent Katy McGuinness got momentarily trapped in Bullet Duck and Dumplings on Mary Street Little when the door jammed shut, and spends most of the review reminiscing about a time the same thing happened during floods in Galway. The food gets a brief look in towards the end, with har gau prawn dumplings "excellent", but siu mau ones "too sweet and solid". Pork and prawn wonton soup had a "good" broth but suffered from "bland" dumplings, and egg-fried rice topped with crisp pork belly and de-boned barbecue duck was "substantial and tasty, good cold weather food". She says she likes Bullet's "low-key charm", giving it 8/10 for food and 9/10 for value. Read her review here.
In the Business Post (which has just rebranded from the Sunday Business Post) Gillian Nelis checks out new Stepaside restaurant Woodruff, whose chef Simon Williams she previously reviewed (and liked) when he was at The Gables in Foxrock. She calls it another "neighbourhood restaurant going above and beyond when it comes to sourcing great Irish produce" and says they left with "happy faces all round". Gambas with avocado and chipotle mayo were "beauties", roasted squash with gnocchi, ricotta and a salt-based celeriac puree was "faultless", and an Andarl farm pork cutlet disappeared fast, as did the cavolo nero, parsnip puree, pink fir potatoes and crispy crackling it came with. Irish game risotto was "less successful" with tough meat and under seasoned barley, but bread and butter pudding for dessert was "very good", while white chocolate mousse with beetroot meringue was "inspired". Read her review here.
In the Sunday Times Niall Toner and his dining partner were the only people in newly opened Port House Cava on Camden Street one lunchtime. The food sounds pretty good, particularly the Puntillas (deep-fried baby squid), canelon (something like lamb canneloni), and Canarian potatoes, but once again the Toner 3/5 can't be budged. Read his review here.
In the Irish Times Catherine Cleary thinks The Cheese Press in Ennistymon (yes there's somewhere else to eat in the Co. Clare town apart from Little Fox) is serving the best toastie in Ireland - cue a stampede to Clare. The toastie in question was made with sourdough bread from the local bakery and raw Coolattin cheddar, and she says "putting this level of farmhouse cheese and properly fermented bread in a toastie outside of hipster brunch zones is a revolutionary act." A fried organic egg came with "perfectly spiced" chorizo and homemade sundried tomato paste, and a vegan plate came with "great" olives, freshly made hummus, "nicely pickled" artichoke hearts and "juicy" dolmades. She says The Cheese Press is "as much about creating community as it is about serving the country’s best cheese toastie", and gives them 9/10. Read her review here.
In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley paid a visit to O'Mahony's in Watergrasshill, of which word was filtering out about via the local "bush telegraph". He calls it "ambitious ... unpretentious" and "wildly enthusiastic", with a "reassuringly short" menu. Lamb "arancini" with potato and pearl barley tasted "intensely" of Irish stew, crisp cauliflower in a spicy red sauce with sesame seeds and kimchi was savoury and spicy, and a Ballyhoura mushroom wellington was "pleasant" but could have been heavier on the mushroom. Mackerel was "impeccable" with an accompanying crab cake tasting "thoroughly of crab", and sides were "the antithesis of pub vegetables". Pear tatin was buttery and not too sweet, coming with "fabulous" liquorice ice-cream, and he notes the "terrific" selection of drivers' drinks. (Review not currently online)
In the Irish Examiner Joe McNamee was living it large at Gregan's Castle in Clare, with an extensive tasting menu and some of the best lines of the weekend. A scallop in a sweet, peppery consommé with puffed rice, crisp brussel sprout leaves, mandarin and ginger was one of his dishes of the year: "myriad strands in sublime, singular expression", and a celeriac tart with salt-cooked egg yolk, black and white truffles and three cornered leek had "complex, hefty flavours yet resolves with zen-like clarity." He says he's usually wary of "certain tropes of classical French cooking", particularly the overuse of things like truffle and foie gras - "their impact too often a shallow veneer of ‘luxury’ masking homogenised, sickly-rich and ultimately bland fare for corpulent old buffers of gouty torpor and vermillion visage," and as that won't be topped we'll leave it there. He gives them 9/10 for food and value, and you can read his review here.
Finally in the Sunday Independent Lucinda O'Sullivan was trying Dingle's "hot and happening" new tapas restaurant Solas, where the "one and only Nevin Maguire" was dining alongside her. She reckons chef Nick Foley's six years at Bentley's in London show in the food, with popcorn squid "perfect", dillisk and wild mushroom croquettes "instant tummy-pleasers", and octopus carpaccio "one of the stars of the show". Pork belly was "succulent and silky", while "perfectly pink" lamb chops were "heaven", and she adored their 24-month Manchego cheese with crispbread, quince, olives and gherkins, saying she can see why Solas has been "reeling in the locals and tourists alike for its great buzz and food". (Review not currently online)
More next week.