This Week's Critic Reviews
In this weekend's Irish Independent Katy McGuinness is paddy last into Allta, but the team are going out on a high as she says their scallop dish will have the Michelin inspectors excited. There's lots to be complimented, including the "perfect-height and super-comfortable" stools, "sensational" Gubeen cappelletti, and "extraordinary" miso shiitake butter. More love for the Instagram-friendly spider-crab bigoli, "perfect strands of fresh pasta in a rich bisque made even richer by the perfect confit egg at its centre", broccoli with goat's curd and pickled green tomato had great flavours albeit a stingy portion, but the scallop with gooseberry beurre blanc and hazelnut was her dish of the night (and of the year so far).
The chicken scarpinocc was "the only dud dish" - stop the lights! - calling it "crude", "unsubtle" and "unpleasant", but they loved the nitro milk ice-cream with white chocolate, smoked honey and sea buckthorn. Another comment on the "steep" wine prices, but she says "I like Allta; it feels different for Dublin, in a good way. It's very much its own place", giving it 9/10 for food and ambience and 8 for value. Read her review here. (Read our Allta once over here)
In the Irish Times Catherine Cleary had the "loveliest of lunches" in Blackrock's newest bistro, Volpe Nera. Sea bream and blood orange crudo brought together winter and spring "so beautifully", cod with beluga lentils, lardo and a parsley puree was a "lovely dish", and her own (surprising) choice of slow-cooked short ribs came with horseradish and a wedge of "life-enhancing" crispy polenta, "finished glassy on the top like a creme brulee". Desserts kept the standard up, with her malt panna cotta so good she wants it to be "the only iteration of the wobbly milky favourite" from now on, and a chocolate mousse was given a Terry's Chocolate Orange spin with a citrus marmalade at the bottom. She says they left refreshed and happy, thinking that good things are happening here, and gives them 9/10. Read her review here.
In the Sunday Independent Lucinda O'Sullivan goes on a Dublin city food safari, looking for "'big game' at reasonable prices". She finds "almost perfect" paella and "big, silky, crispy" chicken croquetas at Paella Bar & Co on Pearse Street, and "silky ... delicious ... flavoursome" dumplings at Little Dumpling on Little Mary Street, but fared less successful at Krewe on Capel Street where due to a myraid of different menus for different times of the day she couldn't order anything she wanted - imagine being a fly on the wall for that one. She settled for a Nola benedict ("a yawn"), blackened chicken and waffles ("dry as dust"), and "robust" cauliflower bits which did nothing to help the cause.
Next up was Vandal in Dublin 8, which she describes as "a daytime oasis". A mezze platter was "lovely", and Belgian waffles the best she's had. Onto The Circular in Rialto, where it doesn't sound like she ate anything, she just describes what's on the menu, and they finished in Zaytoon, with a "great-looking Barg" - a fillet of Irish beef with saffron and spices on flatbread, and peppers stuffed with rice, bulghar, garlic and herbs, roasted in tomato sauce, saying she was "really impressed". (Supposedly these reviews will now be going online as part of the Indo's 'premium content' - i.e. you'll have to subscribe to read it, but as of yet it's not up there. Not the best start for convincing people to cough up)
In the Business Post Gillian Nelis reviews the Food For Thought charity dinner at Circa a few weeks ago, with chefs from Potager, Dax and Ananda in the kitchen amongst others. Headed up by Daniel Hannigan, head chef at Mister S, he and his fellow chefs at the event were all finalists in the 2019 Euro-Toques young chef of the year awards, and Gillian says that whatever's happening in politics, "at least we know we're going to eat well in the future". Aloo tikki chaat with chickpeas, pomegranate, tamarind, mint chutney and Velvet Cloud sheep’s yogurt was "a winning start", octopus with romesco, hazelnut and lovage was surprisngly un-rubbery, and "perfectly seared", and smoked duck satay was "the kind of food you could only dream about being able to pick up after a few pints".
(c) Ruth Calder-Potts
More praise for the refined fish course of cod and mussels in a Muscade sauce, and venison to follow with violet artichokes and a "superb marinade", but it was the celery based dessert that stole the show. Gráinne Mullins had made a financier of caramelised celery and brown butter, served it with a brown butter and celeraic ice cream and a brown butter foam, and topped it with sugared celery strands, and she calls it "hands-down, one of the most delicious, inventive and different desserts I’ve ever had". She says she'd eat the whole meal again with little prompting and advises keeping an eye on FFT's social channels for news of the next one.
In the Sunday Times Niall Toner joins the ranks of Tiller + Grain devotees, after experiencing chef Clair Dowling's crystal focus on flavours, and eating that's "to die for". Read his hunger-inducing salad descriptions here, and if you haven't been there yet do something nice for yourself this week.
In the Irish Examiner Joe McNamee drove all the way from Cork to Waterford for fish and chips, so it's a good thing they were up there with the best he's tasted. There were at Eunice Power's And Chips in Dungarvan and it sounds like they gave the menu a decent run through. That fish was cod, "pearlescent, steaming hot fish contrasting with crunchy batter" with the "excellent" chips "handcut, crisp ... with steaming, floury hearts". Scampi had "superb, succulent, salty/sweet prawn meat", a grilled, free-range chicken burger was "buttermilk-brined" and "tender", and chicken goujons with "flavoursome flesh" made up for "culinary crimes committed to kids' menus" across the country. Taco fries had a "sticky, gooey, savoury melange of chilli beef mince, cheese and taco mayo", and a falafel flatbread with bread from a nearby Syrian bakery was "delicious". He says he's looking forward to returning when the weather's less baltic to have fish and chips al fresco, legs dangling over the quay. Review not online but should be soon here.
Finally in the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley is reviewing a restaurant just slightly out of Bus Eiréann's travel zone - Darby's in London, where Irish expat Robin Gill is by all accounts owning it. Sounds like Darby's is just as impressive as his other openings, The Dairy and Sorella, with smoked eel Gildas "an improvement on the original", Baron Bigod cheese on sourdough with truffle "celestial", and stracciatella with hay-smoked beetroot and hazelnuts "simply perfect". Silky papardelle with Dexter beef ragu was "so correct", Highland shortrib beef with pickle and mustard was reminiscent of a New York Jewish deli, and a choux bun for dessert filled with cream and orange curd was "tart and sweet and bitter all in one". He says flawless is rarely a word he can apply to a meal, but it's feel only right to apply it here. (Review not currently online)
More next week.