This Week's Critic Reviews
It's all about the new this week, from Dublin to Cork, and New Orleans to Sichuan province, but as usual, some were more successful than others...
In the Irish Times Catherine Clearly was wild about everything at Allta except what she perceived to be the misleading name (it means 'wild'). She says a wine bar serving delicious food is "as wild as a potted yucca" - seems she was expecting them to catch and trap their own animals. Still, at least she didn't ask for bottled water. After a few more complaints she "parked the nark" to describe a room that felt "cosier than it should", their "small but beautiful" table, and the general "stylish" vibes. BBQ lamb with seaweed pappardelle was "the stunner of the night", Cromane oysters with rhubarb vinegar a "perfect mouthful", and a charcuterie plate tasted of "good meat well treated".
She calls the cappelletti with smoked gubbeen "ordinary", while admitting it would be "standout" in most other places, and describes the nitro ice-cream for dessert as "a Snickers ice cream crushed up against a Solero in the newsagent’s freezer, only a hundred miles better." Despite only trying five small plates (there's restraint and then there's self-flagellation) she liked it enough to give it 9/10, calling it "controlled, accomplished cooking which is already proving wildly successful with the after-work crowd". Read her review here. Read our Allta once over here.
In the Irish Daily Mail Mister S are back on top after that Catherine Cleary review we shan't mention, with Tom Doorley saying everything about the Camden Street barbecue joint is "ace". He calls head chef Daniel Hannigan "a name to watch", praising his "subtle, carefully judged" use of smoke, and his "understanding of how flavours work in concert the like of which I've rarely (ever?) experienced in this kind of food". Like everyone before him he liked the gambas, flatbread and bisque butter so much he was tempted to lick the last of it off the plate, rich rendang spring rolls worked "impressively" and smoked beef short rib was "perfect".
The Andarl pork tomahawk was "a fine piece of real pig meat ... turned into something even better", brown butter miso roasties were "a crisp, salty, intensely savoury alchemy", and a crisp meringue filled with apple and blackberry compote and seasoned with a smoked plum vinegar was "ace". He says Mister S is not just a good idea, it's one executed with "panache and ease", with a "real buzz and friendly service", calling it "very good news". (Review not currently online but you can read our Mister S once over here)
In the Irish Examiner Leslie Williams apologetically declares Krewe on Capel Street to have some authenticity issues. The BBQ shrimp Po'Boy ("surely the world's greatest sandwich if done well") was "untraditional" and "rather bland", a crayfish 'roll' was actually crayfish on brioche toast, and blackened cod tasted of "damp paper" and was "badly overcooked". Luckily for the 'krewe' it wasn't a total write off, with buttermilk chicken tenders "wondrous" with "properly tangy" aioli, Jambalaya "excellent" and the beignets in the beignet bowl "correctly made" with "good" dipping sauces. The cocktails also impressed with a Sazerac one of the best he's tasted, but flip that over when it came to the wine - "the most boring and conventional list I’ve seen in the last three years" - we've looked at it, he's right. He gives Krewe 6.5/10 for food and 8/10 for value, calling it "New Orleans-inspired". Read his review here.
In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness reckons that Nunki Tea House in Dun Laoghaire is going to be packed as soon as word gets out about how good it is. From the two pages of dishes that have to be ordered 24 hours in advance, she took a punt on stewed radishes with oxtail, and beer-stewed duck in Sichuan style, both she describes as "excellent". Braised beef with chilli sauce, noodles and greens (their most popular dish) left their "tongues tingling pleasantly", mapo tofu was "vibrant and exciting", and the only thing they didn't like was shredded potato stir-fried with vinegar, which sounds a bit like crisps but obviously wasn't. Honey cake for dessert was "delicious and light" and she calls Nunki "a special place", giving it 9/10 for food. Read her review here.
No review from Niall Toner in the Sunday Times today as it's the annual McKenna's Top 100 Restaurants list. In proof of what a high energy year it's been for restaurant openings, notable additions for Dublin include Allta, Crudo, Mamó, Michael's/Little Mike's, Mister S, Potager, Tiller + Grain and Volpe Nera (below). Get the full list for Dublin here, and the countrywide list here.
In the Business Post Gillian Nelis advises sitting at the counter in new Cork opening Goldie, so that you can get cooking tips from the chefs. She says it's a place that's "good for the stomach and good for the soul", praising the "lovely staff" and "nice vibe". They had a succession of serious seafood including oysters in a "perfect" tempura batter with ponzu dipping sauce, "beautifully cooked" ray wing with celeriac and a red wine sauce, and "delicious" pan-fried pollack with fennel and Café de Paris butter. Desserts were a "wonderful" blood orange posset with white chocolate and tarragon ganache, and a "rich" and "well made" chocolate marquise with a mascarpone and espresso mousse, and she advises grabbing a seat to enjoy the "great grub" when you can. Read her review here.
And finally, Lucinda O'Sullivan in the Sunday Independent was at Cork's other buzzed new opening, "hot new hipster-style fire and fusion restaurant" The Glass Curtain. A spiced pumpkin soup "hit the spot" for Brendan, while salt cod croquettes were "big round chaps with crisp outsides and silky centres" - will take that all as positive. A 24 hour cooked short rib (below) was "delicious and so satisfying", but she doesn't deliver a verdict on her spatchcocked red mullet, simply describing what it came with. Honey tart for dessert was "lovely" and she praises their non-alcoholic drink selection, for which it appears she even skipped the bottled water. (Review not currently online)
More next week.