San Lorenzo’s

San Lorennzo's

Following a Saturday morning shopping expedition in the city centre I met up with himself at  San Lorenzo’s for an early lunch. I’d heard reports of good food being dished up here so I thought it would be worth trying it. It was only 12:55 and we were the first to arrive. MrW isn’t too keen on being the only diner in a restaurant but I managed to coax him inside! It wasn’t long before a few more diners ventured in.

It’s not a huge room and, as it was a quiet lunch hour, we didn’t feel hemmed in by other diners. We had a table for four between the two of us so there was no danger of other diners getting inside our personal space. There was Country and Western music playing on the music system which struck us as a little odd as it continued thus for about forty minutes. It wasn’t wee Daniel or Tammy Wynette – it was the better stuff but a restaurant really needs to play an eclectic mix of sounds so that nobody is offended for too long if the selection doesn’t suit them.

We perused the menu and made our choices. Mr w chose the porchetta tonata and I opted for the quail. For mains himself had pork belly while I went for hake. I ordered a glass of Picboul and MrW ordered a glass of Kalterese. The Picboul was absolutely delightful and I’ll be seeking some for home consumption. I don’t think MrW’s red wine hit the same high notes as my lovely white.

Quail Starter

The service was friendly and efficient. Our orders were taken promptly and we were never neglected or fussed over. The porchetta tonnata was thinly sliced and spread over a large plate and a dollop of the tuna mayo was in the centre.  I didn’t taste it because my quail was so gorgeous I didn’t want to share any of it with MrW! (But I did).  It was beautifully tender and oozing with flavour. I really liked it.

The mains came shortly after. Mr W’s pork belly was excellent – he assured me. I didn’t taste it as I felt it might overpower the delicate tones of my fish dish. The hake was nice and the vegetables were lovely but because my starter was so wonderful my expectations were pretty high. The fish dish was not of the same calibre as the starter, but it was still very good.

Hake

As always MrW had a look at the dessert menu and settled on the tiramisu. This arrived with two spoons (Hurrah!) and a warning that we might need a designated driver due to its alcohol content! I’ve sampled a lot of weird and wonderful tiramisus in my time and I have to say that this one was exceptionally good. It ticked all the right boxes and it was a generous portion too!

We finished with excellent coffees. The bill came to €63.50 – a tad high for lunch in the current climate – especially for a relatively new restaurant. Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

The Bill

A point worth noting (as this happened to a friend of mine). A group of six people will be squeezed into the bench style seating as depicted above. This means that the people in the centre of the bench have their plates sitting on the join of the two tables. This is definitely not the best plan. My friend felt it detracted from the experience.

And finally you have to check out the bathrooms (unisex, ugh) as the wash area overlooks the kitchen and you can watch all the work going on.

Posted in Dublin, Food, Restaurants, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Paris Bakery

Recently I came across this little gem on Moore Street. It’s location is not where one would expect to find such a treasure but don’t be put off by the fruit hawkers, the endless row of dodgy phone shops and the ramshackle buildings because this little place is worth finding.

Paris Bakery - Bread

This was my second visit here and I brought MrW along this time as I knew he’d like the pastry cabinet! On my first visit I had ordered Eggs Benedict which came with tongue instead of bacon. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy the tongue because it was cut far too thickly for my liking. This time I opted for the Eggs Florentine. I got my order in just ahead of MrW  who had been planning to order the same thing so he decided to change his order. He opted for Eggs Benedict and, as luck would have it,  they were out of tongue and offered to substitute bacon in its place!

The eggs duly arrived served on large chunks of bread. Mine had lovely freshly ‘heated-to-wilted’ spinach and MrWs eggs sat on some lovely rashers. There were two eggs apiece so we swapped and, thus,  we managed to experience both dishes. Two ladies at an adjacent table decided that they would do similar swapping on their next visit! We enjoyed our breakfast and MrW decided to try one of the pastries – a custard slice. I had a taste of it and it was absolutely gorgeous.

Pastries

The Paris Bakery doesn’t have a great online presence. I couldn’t find a menu, or a web page,  to link to and their tweeting is best described as sporadic. I found this  little snippet in The Irish Times which gives some background to the business. The premises is open for lunch, and as far as I could glean, early evening dining.

The breakfasts were extraordinarily cheap. I don’t see why anyone would dine in the soulless department store restaurants nearby when restaurant is lively, buzzing and offering great food at a super price.

The Bill:

The Bill

Posted in Dublin, Food, Restaurants, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Greenhouse

Bleu Bistro on dawson Street has closed and The Greenhouse has emerged from its ashes. Mickael Viljanen is executive chef here and, having sampled his work in Gregans Castle last summer, I knew we were in for a treat. MrW and I dined here on a Thursday night and the forty-seater restaurant had just over a dozen patrons which was not enough to give a buzz to the place. However, the small crowd ensured that we got a great deal of personal attention! When we arrived we were shown to our table and offered water and presented with copies of the menu to peruse. It didn’t take us long to decide to opt for the five course tasting menu with matching wines.  We gave our order, sat back and waited for the culinary show to commence.

Our first serving was a ‘pre-amuse bouche’ which consisted, we were told, of apple meringue, herring roe and bacon fat. It was really tasty and, surprisingly, not a bit fishy. However, my postprandial research has revealed that the herring roe and herbs were missing from our meringues. Here’s what we should have had.

A small sack of bread arrived at the table along with a miniature loaf of  Swedish rye bread, and a dish of soft butter – which meant we didn’t have to do battle with ‘straight from the fridge’ stuff. This is the first time I have tasted rye bread that I actually like – so full marks for that!  The official amuse bouche was then served. This came in an eggshell. It was a Parmesan custard over which a mushroom sabayon was poured at the table. A side dish of Parmesan crisps came with it. It was delightful yet strange because one anticipates an eggy experience when one eats from an eggshell – but this dish had no noticeable egg flavours.

Foie Gras

Foie Gras

The next course was a foie gras dish with frozen apple and walnut. It was served with a light dessert wine which worked really well with it. The dish was beautifully presented and garnished with pretty edible flowers. We both really liked it but MrW was particularly delighted with it. This course was followed by the one course that I wasn’t looking forward to – mackerel, veal tongue and eel cannelloni and lapristi. I am not a great fan of mackerel but I am very happy to report that Mickael  has managed to make this fish very palatable. I’ve eaten tongue before but this was much nicer than what I have previously experienced. Combined with the other flavours this dish was quite sublime. The wine to accompany this was Choo Choo Pecorino from the Marche province of Italy. This biodynamic, organic wine worked very well with the oily mackerel.

Love Hearts

What followed next was a selection of celeriac and duck hearts. This was my first encounter with duck hearts and I have to say there was no mistaking the duck flavour! They were tasty, and a bit chewy, but I cannot pass judgement on the texture as, up until now, the only hearts I have ever eaten were ‘love hearts’. I really liked the celeriac – it is one of my favourite vegetables although it is a pain in the A to prepare it. The wine pairing for this dish was,unusually, a white Chateau Neuf de Pape. Again the wine worked very well with the food.

MrW chose lamb for his main course and I chose pollack (pollock to most of us). This was a deliberate decision so that we could actually get to taste the entire menu without actually having to eat seven courses! The lamb was served with a light Rioja from a modern, innovative Spanish winemaker. The pollack was coupled with an Austalian Pinot Noir a 2005 vintage (I think). The lamb was very pink which MrW didn’t mind but it might not be to everyone’s liking. I tasted lamb sweetbreads for the first time too! The wine matching was, once again, superb.

Rhubarb

We each chose a different dessert. I opted for the sea-buckthorn presentation and himself was left no choice but to go for the rhubarb/celery medley. I had never heard of sea-buckthorn before and the waiter explained that it tasted a bit citrussy and slightly like fermented mango – he was quite right. It might sound like a strange flavour but it was lovely. It was a most refreshing dish and I would definitely recommend trying it. A sweet dessert wine was served with my dish and the rhubarb was accompanied by an in-house concoction of pastis, ginger and soda water.

Sea-Buckthorn dessert

We had a wonderful evening at ‘the Greenhouse’. The wine lady was very informative, helpful and friendly. The food was absolutely fantastic. The service was smooth and efficient. Dubliners are lucky to have this great chef working in the city.

Posted in Dublin, Food, Restaurants, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Faoi Thalamh

Gary Bell

It’s always great to see a new idea catching on and Gary Bell’s underground restaurant is a unique dining experience that I had the pleasure of enjoying recently. Faoi Thalamh is a pop up restaurant which can appear in Dublin or Belfast or anywhere. It only happens occasionally as Gary has a day job at the Portaferry Hotel and Faoi Thalamh is only a sideline. Gary worked for some time as head chef at Thornton’s so I knew we would be dining well. I wasn’t disappointed and we enjoyed magnificent food complete with Hollywood special effects, live music and a diversity of dining companions.

Our meal commenced with poppadom nibbles. These were no ordinary poppadoms. They were  ‘Fish Skin Poppadoms’ which were exactly as described on the tin. They were a combination of deep fried fish skin and poppadom served communally on a timber platter and sprinkled with, what can only be described as, flaked salt. I take very limited salt but this flaked salt was exceptionally tasty and I had to stop myself from taking pinchfuls to eat!

Smoke and Mirrors

The next course was a pan fried king scallop served with a smoked  Alsace bacon mousse and baby spinach. But first we had the theatrical experience. Wine coolers were brought to the table and inside these was a mixture of dry ice and seaweed. The dry ice was activated by the addition of water and the resulting cauldron spewed out seaweed scented *air*. It worked well as an assault on the senses. We enjoyed a smell of the sea while we ate the delectable scallop which was served in a scallop shell, perfectly cooked and accompanied by a divine mousse. My mouth is watering with the recollection of it.

What followed was a salmon “four ways” experience. We were served with a platter which had pan-fried salmon, salmon ballotine and salmon roe. There was a little cream on the plate and we wondered if this might be some kind of salmon mousse to make up the fourth dimension. It wasn’t. The fourth way was salmon smoked live at the table (note the order of the words – it wasn’t live salmon smoked at the table!). The smoke box was brought to the table and we were all served a portion of the smoked salmon from a wooden spoon or fork. It was a novel idea and the smoked  salmon was beautiful. Apart from the fish eggs it was difficult to decide which of the salmon morsels was the best.

Carpaccio

Our next dish was beef carpaccio with horseradish cream, quails eggs with parmesan and herring roe. It was served on a bed of baby gem leaves, which in turn were set in a blanched half marrow bone, set on a bed of wood shavings! The wood shavings transported us to the farmyard! The bone marrow serving dish reminded us of that we were eating beef. Yet again our senses had been appropriately primed for the culinary experience. The carpaccio was sublime. The tastes and textures were perfect. A perfect balance with the horseradish was achieved resulting in the  optimum experience. The little quail eggs and roe looked and taste delightful too. My photo, unfortunately, isn’t great but you get the idea.

The entree was to be  crisp pork belly, dauphinoise potatoes, honey glazed carrot and thyme jus. However the carrots never materialised. It didn’t matter because I didn’t check the menu until I got home but I thought it was odd not to have a vegetable dish with the main course. But then again the whole evening was a new and different venture and I didn’t know what kind of limited space was available for cooking.  Once again, Gary set out to activate our senses. Prior to serving the main course he burnt bunches of thyme to infuse the air with a wonderful herbal aroma. The scent complemented the thyme jus that came with the pork. The dish was fabulous. The dauphinoise potatoes were orgasmic according to one of the other dinner guests. I wouldn’t have gone that far myself…. The pork belly was beautifully crisp and the jus, of which there was plenty, had a fantastic flavour and consistency.

The final course was described as “rich chocolate cake, fresh raspberries, walnut praline”. Not being a chocolate fan I was a bit worried about – especially if I didn’t like it. It turned out to be more mousse and less cake  - which was good. I ate it and I enjoyed it. It had a little chocolate ball on top which was beautiful – filled with something very tasty. The dish was good.  (I’m sure a real chocaholic might go overboard on the superlatives.)

I really enjoyed the music which was performed by these lads -

The Musicians

Finally, the suggested donation for the whole evening was €45.00. This was incredibly good value for an amazing culinary and sensory experience. I haven’t been wowed by food for a while but this was a great meal.

A few notes –

I used a number of photos from their facebook page.

It’s a bring your own wine occasion.

The dining room is pretty basic.

Posted in Dublin, Food, Restaurants, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pig’s Ear

On foot of a recommendation we decided to try the Pig’s Ear on Nassau Street in Dublin. The restaurant was awarded the prestigious Michelin Bib Gormand in 2011 so I was expecting great things.

The restaurant is spread over two levels and we were brought to a table on the second floor (third floor if you are American!). This dining room was much larger than the one on the first level. The floors were dark timber as were the tables and chairs. The room looked fine and had adequate space between the tables but, as it filled up, it became incredibly loud. This wasn’t helped by the fact that there were two noisy groups in the room.

We were given menus and offered water. The menu was very interesting and it took me a while to decide what to have. I settled on the crab mayonnaise (I noted, with amusement, the menu description of ‘handpicked Castletownbere crabs’- as if the chef had popped down to west Cork and plucked a few crabs out of the sea!). For my main course I ordered salmon which, for me, is an unusual choice. But having recently had fabulous salmon in an ordinary hotel Ballina Co Mayo I was prepared to give it a go in a “rated” restaurant. Mr W ordered some terrine and the milk fed lamb shepherd’s pie. I left the wine ordering to himself and he thought the prices were a bit high.

A small canvas bag of bread arrived at the table and a bottle of chilled tap water. We had difficulty removing the bread from the bag and the result was that the brown bread broke into pieces. The  starters arrived seconds after the bread only these starters were not what we had ordered. This caused a great kafuffle amongst the staff resulting in our orders being reconfirmed by the waiter. This did not augur well.

The correct starters showed up eventually and I was not impressed by the meagre portion of crab that I was served which was priced at over €10.00. The salmon was better although it didn’t match the Mayo salmon for flavour. The accompanying samphire was overcooked and, rather than add to the dish it took from it, the cauliflower and potato champ seemed to be devoid of potato. The potted  shrimp butter worked well with the dish and the flavours were good. The shepherds pie looked pretty but I didn’t taste it.

The noisy environs was really starting to get to us and we would have left only that we had been told the cheeseboard was interestingly presented. We ordered a cheesboard to share and we were presented with four reasonable portions of cheese, some oatcakes a small  bread roll with chutney baked into it and a handful of grapes. The cheeses were laid out alongside an explanatory note giving the cheese type, provenance and age. An excellent idea. The presentation was good but the cheeses were too cold.

All told our experience at The Pig’s Ear wasn’t great. Having eaten amazing meals in a number of other Bib Gourmand restaurants I have to wonder why this restaurant merited the award. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it and I won’t be going back. The bill came to just under €110.00 and, for that money, you can get a much better deal in Dublin city centre.

Posted in Dublin, Food, Restaurants, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wild Boar

I won’t mince my words about my recent visit here. I was stunned by how mediocre the experience was. We arrived at  about 2:45 on a Sunday afternoon when the main rush for lunch was finished. We selected our own table (it is a pub after all) and a waiter brought menus to us. We were ravenous and made our decisions fairly quickly so were not too pleased at the slowness of the order taking – there was plenty of staff and most of the other patrons were eating already.

My next disappointment was that the first items on the menu were not available on Sundays! Aaargh! My mouth was already watering for the “steak sandwich with caramelised onion, rocket and Bearnaise sauce” before I realised that it was not available on Sundays. Why on earth would any establishment give a menu that included food you couldn’t have? I settled for the alternate offering of a steak sandwich with French fries. Mr W ordered a special from the black board – bacon and cabbage with apple and mash.

The food arrived in good time. Neither of us were visually stunned by the offerings. The bacon was a large, thick slice and looked most unappetising. The portion of mash was meagre, as was the serving of cabbage. Mr W was not too impressed. My steak sandwich wasn’t much better. First of all it was an open sandwich i.e. it was a piece of steak atop a half slice of baguette. I had to ask for a steak knife in order to cut it. And the chips were the thin type that you might get in a fast food restaurant. All in all I was not happy with what I got. My expectations were probably high because I have eaten a few times in the adjoining Box Tree and have been very happy with the offerings there.

I wasn’t pleased with the bathroom facilities either. My first impression was that I was in some country pub in the last century at a time when merely having an indoor bathroom was chic. The ladies’ room doubles as the wheelchair bathroom but that wasn’t the problem. The room looked like it hadn’t be mopped down for some time. It didn’t help matters that the soap dispenser is located in such a way that all the drips fall directly on the floor. There was a small pile of congealed soap on the floor and it looked like someone’s cat had been sick.

I was quite disappointed with our experience and I wouldn’t recommend to anyone to eat here.

Posted in Dublin, Food, Restaurants, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayfield Deli And Eatery

The Mayfield Eatery

After much procrastination I finally made it to this establishment for lunch. It was almost two o’clock on a Saturday afternoon and the place was buzzing. We were lucky to get seats. Five minutes after we arrived people were queuing! This bistro is located in a premises formerly occupied by Christy’s Butcher Shop at the edge of Terenure. The old tiles have been left on the wall as have the rails from which the cuts of meat would hang. But now all that hangs from these rails are spare chairs, notices and ornaments. The tables and chairs are an eclectic mix and, overall, the fist impression is that this place is a cross between a New York Deli and a Parisian Bistro.

The Lunch menu was very interesting. There was soup and sandwiches available for €8.50 or, for €5.50, you could have just the sandwiches. The sandwiches on offer were no ordinary run of the mill things. There were ones available with ciabatta, foccacia, germagrain or bagels. The fillings sounded fantastic too. But I wasn’t in the mood for sandwiches.

The hot foods on offer included lasagne, fish cakes, chicken curry, asparagus pie and sweet potato and butternut squash tagine.  These all sounded delightful too but I wasn’t in the mood for hot food wither. I flipped the menu over and found some salads on offer on the rear. Now, strangely for me, I was in the mood for salad and I settled on ‘The Honey Roasted Pear Salad served with Grapes, Croutons, Bacon, Leaves and Cashel Blue Dressing’ priced at €9.00.  My dining partner ordered the  ‘Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, Tagine, Chickpeas, Apricots served with flat bread and rice’ on offer for €9.50.

We didn’t have to wait too long for the food to arrive. My salad platter looked great and was accompanied with a couple of slices of tasty brown bread. There were plenty of grapes and croutons but very little bacon and the Cashel blue sauce definitely lacked flavour. The pear was not chopped, or sliced, as I might have expected but was served in wedge form. I wasn’t wowed by this salad. Serves me right for not ordering something mores seasonal!

Fortunately the taster I got from my dining partner saved the day. The tagine tasted absolutely amazing and I would definitely return just to try it. It was a lovely orange colour with a generous scattering of flaked almonds atop it. It was pleasing to both the eye, the palate and the olfactory receptors.

We looked at the dessert menus but were not tempted by the wide variety of cakes on offer and so we just ordered two americanos which were excellent (not too big) and keenly priced at €2.30. The bill came to €23.10 and, while my salad didn’t delight me, I definitely would go back to try something different.

Posted in Dublin, Food, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment