This Week's Critic Reviews
In this weekend's Sunday Independent, Lucinda O'Sullivan ponders whether Niall Davidson's new wine bar Allta is "too cool", saying she felt "a tad uncomfortable" there. It all got off to a rocky start when they couldn't source an unopened bottle of water for her (they only have filtered still and sparkling because it's 2020), but she says that after a history of water-borne illnesses she only drinks unopened bottles when out and about... This whole drama only came about in the first place because she drove to the wine bar - mistake number one - and says she didn't fancy the only non-alcoholic option of kombucha with food, water being the clearly superior choice for food pairing. She does admit to loving their first two dishes of skate wing lollipops and cuttlefish in a gooseberry beurre blanc, but the other dishes that have been wowing the general public failed to soothe O'Sullivan.
She thought the barbecued lamb with seaweed pappardelle was "pleasant enough", but her friend removed the "unannounced" raw egg yolk from the spider crab bigoli (head exploding emoji), which she calls "very short on protein" - it definitely would have been less short on protein if they hadn't removed the egg. She describes the staff as "overfamiliar" and "matey", calling this a professional no-no, and it doesn't sound like she'll be returning for what she called "petite portions" at "plump prices", or shoulder pats from the lovely staff. (Review not currently online)
In the Business Post Gillian Nelis is the latest person to add her name to the petition calling for One Pico to have a Michelin star. She calls the food "some of the best you will eat on this island", singling out a starter of seared scallops with crab bisque and winter truffle, a "magical" plate of cured sea trout with pickled cucumber, Goatsbridge caviar, and a buttermilk and sheep's yoghurt dressing, and a southern fried chicken thigh with "juiciness and flavour that Colonel Sanders could only dream about". She says she'd brave any weather for their dessert of Valrhona Manjari delice with blood orange curd and vanilla ice-cream, and the cheese selection made her "weak at the knees". She says she's eaten in Michelin-starred restaurants around the world that don't hold a candle to the quality of the food at One Pico, and hopes the tyre company pay them a visit on their next trip over. Read her review here.
In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley has what sounds like a very 'meh' meal at Casper and Giumbinis in Dun Laoghaire, with the high point sounding like the "exceptional" wine list. Buffalo wings were "unremarkable", calamari rings "somewhat flaccid", and pan-fried Irish salmon was overcooked with a side of "bland" hollandaise. French onion soup was "cheesy", "deep and savoury", and a sirloin steak was juicy and flavoursome, but desserts brought things down again with a "too sweet" chocolate mousse and a "clodhopping" crème brûlée. He says although the food was "rather underwhelming", they had "a hugely enjoyable evening" thanks to the staff and the atmosphere, and that it's made Dun Laoghaire a better place. (Review not currently online)
In the Sunday Times Niall Toner thought the duck soup dumplings at new opening Little Dumpling were like a fairground ride for his mouth. He also admits to ordering another portion of the "brilliant" nutella dumplings, despite imagining them to be an abomination (check them out in action here). Read his review here, and look out for our Little Dumpling once over next week.
In the Irish Times Catherine Cleary calls Lignum in Galway "the most exciting Irish restaurant, from a young team, in years." She thinks it would look at home in Oslo or Copenhagen, and says it has "all the energy and enthusiasm you'd expect when a restaurant child gets the keys to the kitchen." Biscuit-crisp pastry filled with liquified cheese was "lucious", squid with lovage, Savoy cabbage and squid ink pate was "beautifully judged", and 27-day dry aged duck with hasselback style Swede was "a juicy treat". She describes pastry chef Gráinne Mullins' sourdough as "spectacular" and her desserts as "astonishing", including cranberry sorbet with olive oil and a baked Alaska spritzed with whiskey, and gives Lignum 9/10 calling it "innovative, accomplished and delicious". Read her review here.
Finally in the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness was in London at Richard Corrigan's new opening Daffodil Mulligan, and says she liked it "very much". Puffed paprika pork skins with smoked apple sauce was "a huge plate of crunch and flavour", crubeens with Colman's mustard were "piggy deliciousness", and she says prices seem "on the low side for London". Whipped smoked cod's roe was the only lull - "disappointingly heavy" - but a pheasant and mallard game pie was "utterly delicious", with "properly hung game", and a baked pink lady with prune and Armagnac was one of the best desserts she's tried in a long time. She gives them 9/10 for food, ambience and value and you can read her review here.
More next week.