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This Week's Critic Reviews

In the Irish Examiner this week Leslie Williams is first in with his take on Amy Austin, the new wine bar from John Farrell (777, Dillinger's, formerly Luna), with 777's Essa Fakhry in the kitchen. He doesn't touch on the somewhat controversial closing of Luna (will be interested to see if other critics do), but thought their Carlingford oysters with kimchi Bloody Mary were "a truly excellent opening shot". A ham hock terrine with foie gras and pickled mushrooms was "nicely balanced", Yellowfin tuna crudo was "good quality" and Dublin Bay prawns in panko breadcrumbs with dill and garlic were "a must order". He was less effusive when it came to the suckling pig belly whose fat needed more rendering, but cheeses were in "excellent condition" and a pear and frangipane tart was "light and airy". He says Amy Austin, are serving "tasty small plates in a buzzy atmosphere" with "flair", and that he was impressed. (Review not currently online but should be here sometime next week)

In the Irish Independent Katy McGuinness is predicting a Michelin star for Bastible in Dublin 8, based on a tasting menu that gets it "just right". A shish kebab of ox tongue was "a lush mouthful of smoke and umami", a mouthful of kohlrabi and sorrel sprayed with orange blossom water was "a better, modern version" of the tired sorbet, and she says she could eat the "chewy, intense" sourdough with cultured butter "all day" (ditto).

Baked swede with pumpkin seed mole and ginger oil was "subtle and wonderful", and an "Instagrammable" plate of raw Connemara shrimp in a broth of kohlrabi and broccoli with semi-dried tomatoes and horseradish was "a delight". More love for "perfect" quince-lacquered sea trout with potato flatbread and condiments, and dessert of set sheep's milk yoghurt with fermented plum and woodruff was "not too sweet". She says "Cúán Greene's stint at Noma is evident in dishes that feel fresh, vibrant and different for Dublin", giving it 9/10 for food and value. Read her review here. (Read our recent Bastible once over here)

In the Sunday Times Niall Toner is following in Ernie Whalley's footsteps again by doing another review of 3 Leaves in Blackrock Market (clearly they're seeing a new reviewer as a slate wiped clean). No surprises that he was wowed by Santosh Thomas' cooking (as was Ernie), calling every bite a tiny adventure, and recommending booking a table as fast as you can. Read his review here. (Read our 3 Leaves once over here)

In the Sunday Independent Lucinda O'Sullivan's back on one of her food safaris, this time on the hunt for all things Asian in Dublin. Her nine chosen destinations include Double 8 in Bray (eh, that's Wicklow), China Sichuan in Sandyford, Nunki Teahouse in Dun Laoghaire and newly opened Kitchen 85 on Marlborough Street. Also getting a mention are Mieko King on Parnell Street (formerly Mr Dinh), street food stall Jaru, Bullet Duck and Dumpling, Shibuyashi in Blanchardstown and newly re-opened Ramen Co (formerly Ramen Kitchen before they "closed" only to reopen with a slightly different name and logo) in Stoneybatter. (And in a new development read it on the Independent's website here - currently for free)

In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley apologises for his single diner review of Rinuccini in Kilkenny, saying he couldn't find any mates to "don a nosebag" with, but was entertained by two nuns and a priest at the next table. He calls it a "venerable establishment" having been open for 31 years, and who must be doing something right, and a bowl of cauliflower and gorgonzola soup was "good, in an earthy way". Canelloni were tubes of "silky egg pasta" stuffed with "long-braised beef" and were "well-flavoured", but he doubted the claim of a "fresh tomato sauce" at this time of year, suspecting it was in fact tinned. Things ended less successfully with tiramisu that was "too sweet and too bland", and more blandness in a macchiato, and he pummels the wine list fpr having missing producers and vintages - "which, these days, is hard to fathom". (Review not currently online)

In the Irish Times Catherine Cleary says that Ballyvolane House in Cork is "no dusty relic", but "a lovely way to experience the food of home." She describes the dining room as "posh but in a relaxed, friendly way", with cosy candles and a lit fire while dogs run around your feet. She describes the food as "home-cooked" and "lovely", with Garryhinch Wood mushrooms in a cider cream with tarragon on toast making her happy, a rack of lamb with redcurrant gravy soft and buttery, and the vegetarian option of a Savoy cabbage leaf folded over slices of golden beet and Macroom feta with hazelnut dukkah put most other restaurants' vegetarian options to shame. Dessert was a "perfect panna cotta" with boozy plums stewed in their own Bertha’s Revenge sloe gin, and she says this big house is "showcasing how home-cooked food can be done", giving them 9/10. Read her review here.

Finally in the Business Post Gillian Nelis was at Michelin-starred Loam in Galway, where almost everything in the seven-course menu was "flawless". Particular high points included chef Enda McAvoy's squid noodles in a shiitake broth seasoned with kombu and smoked fish with a gooey egg in the middle, and a Castlemine beef tartare topped with grated, smoked bone marrow butter and pickled onions, but "underdone" pumpkin with kale sheep's milk yoghurt was "the only duff note". Special mention for their new pastry chef, Lauren Goudeket, who she says is one to watch after a pre-dessert of candied beetroot slices with a rose mousse and rhubarb sorbet, and dessert proper of Jerusalem artichoke ice-cream with a sunflower seed sable and a "divine" miso caramel. She says spending even an hour in Loam will put a smile on your face, and you can read her review here.

More next week.

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