So we ended up in Dublin for a weekend, not for the rugby but for a Hen Party. Why am I there – long story. Anyway, I Needed to find us somewhere to eat on the Friday evening, so after much internet searching we opted for one of Dylan McGrath’s numerous restaurants or more specifically his Tapas Bar. To be honest we did try to get into Ireland’s only two star Michellin restaurant – Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud – they were very accommodating but the only times they had we couldn’t do sadly, so that is definitely one for the future for us and hopefully with more than 24 hours notice I’ll be able to get a table at a time I don’t associate with going to sleep. Enough about where we didn’t eat…
I’d requested a table at the counter so we could watch the Chef’s work; and they did, non stop for the two hours or so we were there. Our Waitress went through the menu with us explaining the concept and how the dishes would turn up as they were ready, the style of dishes and suggested that five or six between us would be about right. I picked The Gastro Bar because the menu had loads of options for Bev and for once she was struggling to narrow it down. So often she struggles to find more than one dish she wants on a menu but here there were loads. Eventually she picked three – Tempura Prawn, Lobster Roll and Truffle Pasta. I picked the one she was deliberating over – the Soft Shell Crab – to go with two meat dishes for me, the Pork Belly and the Sirloin. I don’t know how that order was presented to the kitchen (it was fairly early and not as busy as it would become) and we were trying to watch what was being prepared in front of us by the chefs but all the non meat dishes came out first and in very rapid succession so despite me helping out (I was always going to have a taste) the food was going cold because too much had come out at once. The biggest victim of this was the Truffle Pasta with charred Asparagus and Parmesan which was delightful but prone to going cold very quick – which it did – and cold pasta unless you are a student is not a winner. The Prawn Tempura had a wonderful pesto and a lemon purée but was not easy to separate from the skewer it was presented on. The mini Lobster hot dog with lobster meat bound in bernaise and melted hazelnut butter in a brioche bun was better than the sum of its ingredients but as good as that was the soft shell crab in sesame spice was better.
My two meat choices came out whilst we were still eating the previous four dishes, I get how this tapas/small plates idea works, I understand how it makes it easier for the kitchen, but, and this is a big but, I don’t want all my food out in such rapid succession if there’s only two of us. We can’t eat it that quick and it goes cold. If there was ten of us and we are all sharing it would be a different matter, you would want all your food out quickly as you would either all be sharing or you’d just eat your dish. Anyway…
The pork belly with Asian spices and was a joy with the crispy peanut brittle adding the crunch that was missing from the lack of crackling. I really enjoyed the perfectly medium rare Irish sirloin slices but the accompanying parmesan, chestnut and mushroom tart over powered it In quantity. Maybe if I’d had the larger portion with more slices of sirloin I’d have thought differently but having spent the evening watching the chef on that station I think I’d have still said the the larger portion was unbalanced.
Despite these niggles we really enjoyed the food here and watching at close hand the dishes being prepared. There is not quite the attention to detail that you observe from the counter at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon but the passion is there.
Now dessert is considered by many to be the highlight of the meal, that last course, the one you remember most and this was, but not for good reasons. Please don’t think I’m now knocking this dish and when it came to paying the bill I did the typical British thing of saying everything was fine and didn’t say what I really thought. I told them that I loved all the food except the dessert. I’m sure there were plenty of fine desserts on the menu but I went for one in particular on the specials board… Textures of coconut and black olive. A combination that I’ve never had before and I hope never sees the light of day again. That’s probably a bit harsh as I ate most of it, but it was a really odd combination of sweet and salt that missed another element (perhaps a fruit), with the very little texture other than soft and definitely no crunch. Visually it wasn’t good either it just resembled a bowl of melted ice cream. In my opinion this dessert missed the target, I’m sure whoever created it in the kitchen thought it was fantastic but it wasn’t for me. Next time I’ll pick a dessert from the menu.
Adam & Beverley xx