In the Irish Times this week Catherine Cleary ventured into the great unknown (Artane) and made a genuine, PR-free discovery, but she doesn't think the locals are going to thank her for spreading the good word about Pakistani/Eastern restaurant Taza. The 'Molly-Malone Masala' with mussels, cockles and salmon in a "velvety spiced coconut milk and tomato sauce" consisted of "delicious things, beautifully cooked", vegetable pakora came in a "nutty perfect" batter and house dahl topped with spicy paneer and spinach was "delicious". She says "nothing dips in the service or the flavours throughout our visit", and describes the lovely staff and manager as a "class act", saying "you’ll probably eat better here than between the canals". She gives them 8.5/10 and we sit in wait for the Instagram brigade (and everyone else) to jump on the number 27 bus. Read her review here.
In the Irish Examiner Leslie Williams was having his mind blown at new opening Allta. He wandered in off the cuff on their first official night open, and hadn't planned to review it but says it was so good he couldn't delay sharing the news. The miso shiitake butter that came with their homemade bread had "layers of fascinating complexity", scarpinocc pasta stuffed with chicken liver mousse was "one of the most mind-bendingly, palate-blinding flavours of the night", and the "sweet, crispy" BBQ lamb with "salty" seaweed pappardelle was his favourite pasta dish. He calls Allta "one of the most enjoyable meals of the year with brilliant staff, excellent wines" and "out-of-this-world food", and gives them 9.5/10 for food and 8/10 for value. Review not currently online but should be soon here. (Read our Allta once over here)
Similarly excitable sentiments from Tom Doorley in the Irish Daily Mail who was at new Blackrock restaurant Volpe Nera, from ex-Etto head chef Barry Sun. He calls the food "outstanding", saying it's "much more" than a neighbourhood restaurant, and an example of "serious chefs" moving away from exorbitant city centre rents. Brandy Bay oysters came with a "thrillingly fresh" cucumber and apple dressing, cep dumplings with aged soy, chives and trompettes de mort was "very good" with a pairing of amontillado sherry "inspired", and perfectly grilled cod came with Beluga lentils in an "intense liquor". Roast pheasant with braised endive, quince and polenta was "an elegant game dish", while dessert of malt panna cotta with clementine was "genius", and he advises readers to "beat a path to Barry's door". (Review not currently online)
More delirium from Katy McGuinness in the Irish Independent, who'd hopped on the Dart to Mamó in Howth, and echoes what everyone before her has said - Howth finally has a destination restaurant. She says she could eat a lot of their signature 'Cod Chip', while both Wolffish with tarragon mayonnaise and whipped chicken liver parfait with chicken skin were "excellent". A crudo of monkfish with grapefruit and pink peppercorn was "light and fresh", razor clams with garlic butter and a toasted macadamia crumb "gutsy fabulous", and a côte de boeuf to share from Rick Higgins in Sutton was "magnificent". Plenty more dishes sampled and approved of, including a "lovely" Howth honey and almond floating island, and she gives them 9/10 for food, ambience and value, saying it's "happy days in Howth." Read her review here. (Read our Mamó once over here)
In the Sunday Times Dara Flynn is standing in for Niall Toner again, and headed to new veggie opening Glas on Chatham Street with her meat-loving friend. It gets an impressive four stars out of five, with particular praise for the beer-battered shimeji mushroom, chile sin carne and the polenta fried with whipped garlic aioli so good she'd put it on her face. Read her review here.
In the Business Post Gillian Nelis took a break from pre-Christmas deadlines to visit 1180 restaurant in Kilkea Castle, and says that head chef David Kane and team are "playing a blinder". Things started well with "superb" brown bread and snacks including "very moreish deep-fried polenta cubes", continued with beautifully cooked wood pigeon breast with figs, a stuffed raviolo and a "great" sherry-infused jus, and ended with a "bang on" ginger soufflé with butterscotch sauce and blackberry sorbet. The only dud note was a peanut parfait which needed to be "more nutty", and she says that while "wacky dishes and out-there flavour combinations" aren't going to fly in a hotel restaurant, "there are enough inventive touches here to make things interesting for everyone." Read her review here.
Finally, the antidote to all that ecstacy - Lucinda O'Sullivan's take on the recently opened Old Bank in Dungarvan, in this week's Sunday Independent. It's as if they had a list of everything that makes her scowl and sat ticking them off one by one. Left waiting in a cold lobby? Check. Sat on a tiny table squashed up next to other diners? Check. A 45 minute wait for a cold antipasto starter? Check, check, check. Needless to say they won't be sharing this one on their social feeds. Other crimes included some mains (like the Sunday roast) only available for sharing (no mention of it on the menu), under cooked soft-shell crab (with reference to those "soft stomach bits"), and her barely eaten veal saltimbocca being removed without a word being said (expectation vs reality below). Thankfully desserts of 'gelati misti' and zabaglione were "delightful", but she says they left "hungry and cross", much like the team today we imagine. (Review not currently online)
More next week.