Every new season is special in the bursts of creativity it unleashes, as fresh crops of new fruit and veg are offered up to the city’s chefs and make their way onto menus. None, though, have a comfort factor quite like autumn’s, with its ample apples, berries and nuts joining squash, ceps and celeriac in warming dishes from soups right through to tarts. We’ve staked out some of the early contenders for the best autumn dishes on menus right now...
Apple and custard choux bun, Table Wine
Pastry is one of Table Wine’s standout specialties and we’re excited to see them turn that skill in the direction of autumn. The classic apple and custard combination in this choux bun gets an added kick of indulgence from meringue topped with cream cheese and pear. We want it now.
Mackerel with turnip and cherry, Frank’s
The humble turnip, hardly the most glamorous of veg, tends to get a bad rap on these shores thanks to the bland mashed treatment of many a Sunday roast (and the fact that most people are actually using Swede). In the right hands however it can kick a dish into a higher gear. Frank's head chef David Bradshaw’s are such hands, and his wafer-thin slices draped over charred mackerel make for one of the more creative presentations around town. The last of the summer cherry makes for a nice nod to the changing of the seasons too.
Pumpkin risotto, Library Street
Sage might well be the low-key MVP of all autumn ingredients, and it gets star treatment in this returning favourite of ours from Library Street. Ginger and chive add extra complexity to their earthy, creamy pumpkin risotto, laden down with flavours and textures. They’re recommending a glass of Godello to go with it - who are we to disagree?
Prawn with BBQ ceps, Allta
New season mushrooms are starting to crop up across the city’s menus, with ceps chief among them, and we've not wanted any as much as Allta’s. They’re serving theirs with Sicilian prawns in a seasoned prawn bisque, complete with lacto fermented cep juice for extra-intense flavour. This is hardcore mushroom lover territory, and we want in.
Prawn carpaccio with ovoli mushrooms, A Fianco
We can only hope another yield of prized ovoli mushrooms arrives at A Fianco in the near future, because this recent daily special is one we’re dying to try. Presented atop a carpaccio of Dublin Bay prawns, this is a fungus not all too often seen on Dublin menus, and one worth rushing for whenever and wherever it is.
Ham hock and celeriac, Pigeon House
Autumn is all about the arrival of hearty root veg, and the often underutilised celeriac is chief among them. The knobbly character makes a sensational pairing with pork, so no surprise to see the Pigeon House rolling it out alongside ham hock for a classic - the crispy egg on top an extra rich touch for those rapidly-darkening evenings.
Bacon chop with cabbage, black pudding and apple, The Winding Stair
We know what you’re thinking - yes, that is an entire apple perched on top of The Winding Stair’s bacon chop dish. This one’s as classical an autumnal flavour pairing as it gets, with a few creative presentational flourishes, the pork and apple combo playing out across two pairs of textures and a bed of mustard-creamed cabbage to wrap things up nicely.
Plaice with butternut squash and bacon beurre blanc, King Sitric
Pork and apple might be the beating heart of autumn flavours, but bacon and butternut squash stands out as a worthy competitor. King Sitric are serving them together in a glossy beurre blanc and paired with the delicate, tender flesh of pristine plaice. It’s an inspired way to bring out the best of all elements.
Duck, squash and cobnut, Delahunt
Game season kicks into high gear as autumn arrives and Delahunt are straight out of the traps with West Cork’s very best: Skeaghanore duck, enhanced by the salted flavour of Roaring Water Bay. It’s matched here with cobnut and squash for about as close as you can get to a single season on a plate.
Seasonal root salad, Hang Dai
Few cuisines make as good use of root vegetables as Chinese does, and, here’s Hang Dai with a lively salad of celeriac, daikon and kohlrabi dressed in kimchi. It’s a lot lighter than most of the autumnal fare cropping up around the city, plus how incredible do these lotus crisps look?
Pumpkin dumplings, The Woollen Mills
There’s maybe nothing more in vogue this time of year than pumpkin recipes, and we’re always on the lookout for the more inventive plates out there. The Woollen Mills’ gnocchi-style dumplings certainly meet the brief with wild mushrooms, sage, and parsnip crisps bringing in other in-season flavours for a dish that screams autumn comfort food.
Butternut squash soup, Daddy’s
Soup’s not strictly the preserve of the colder months, but we always find ourselves indulging all the more once summer is over. That’s partly the weather, of course, but it’s also down to how well autumn’s flavours lend themselves to liquid form. Daddy’s richly-coloured combo of butternut squash and red pepper is so appealing you'll feel warmer just looking at it.
Mont blanc pan, Gopan
Japanese micro-bakery Gopan turned our heads this week with a pair of chestnut specials on this week’s menu. The chestnut cheesecake sounds deliciously different but it’s these mont blanc pans we’re most excited for, with their coffee-flavoured dough (!) and delicate mounds of chestnut cream.
Plum and blackberry brioche, Bread Man Walking
No seasonal rundown would be complete without the latest creation from Bread Man Walking - this time a plum and blackberry brioche with lashings of crème patissiere. Sweet dough, smooth custard, tart berries - the end of summer just got easier to bear.
Deep-fried apple calzone, Pala Pizza & Trattoria
Pala Pizza's new Trattoria is only open a few days, but they've launched strong, and we're hoping this deep-fried apple and cinnamon calzone with caramel sauce is not just for autumn. Read our review here.