Deep, West Pier, Howth, Co. Dublin

18 Jul

Deep restaurant in Howth is situatied along the fishing pier, beside lots of other seafood restaurants.  It has tables both inside and out and is a popular choice for locals and tourists.  Thier early bird option is fairly good value at €22 for two courses and is available all night Monday-Friday and until 6.45pm on Saturdays.  deep1My starter of deep fried brie was delicious with a crispy fried coating and gooey warm cheese in the middle.  The cranberry dip was a good partner for it, along with a nice side salad. deep2The calamari was also very good.  Nice and crisp and very fresh.

deep3The chicken wings were decent.  A spicy sauce and a blue cheese dip but weren’t as succulent as they could have been.

deep4The catch of the day was haddock, pan-fried and served with herby mashed potato and roast vegetables.  The mash was probably the best part of this dish.  The fish was dry and over-cooked, not flakey and moist.  There wasn’t enough sauce to bring the dish together and I left a fair amount of the fish on the plate because it simply wasn’t enjoyable to eat.

deep5The fillet of rockbass with baby potatoes was much better than the haddock.  Beautiful fish with nice sides and creamy sauce.

The atmosphere was good in the restaurant and the service was great.  I have had the seafood platters here before and I think next time I will stick to them or a selection of starters.

New restaurant – The Wollen Mills, 41 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1

2 Jul

ImageThis old building beside the Ha’Penny bridge was a knitting and textiles shop for over 100 years.  Famously James Joyce worked here for a short time.  It has now been transformed into a modern eatery by the people behind the ever popular Winding Stair Restaurant next door.  The food ethos is the same but on a more casual level, with Irish organic produce being offered up in hearty portions.  Traditional Irish dishes such as coddle, herrings and ham hock are given a new life with an interesting fresh approach to ingredients.  There is a deli/ take away counter at the front serving takeaway salads, sandwiches, coffee, cakes and bread and then the seated section behind offers an array of lunch and dinner.  Apparently breakfast will be added soon.  Upstairs there is an open-air terrace with glass frontage giving unparalleled views of the River Liffey and the Ha’Penny bridge. ImageImage 

One of my favourite aspects of the menu is the ‘Vegetable’ section, with vegetable side dishes and full-sized Vegetarian meals.  Dublin is still sadly lacking in its dining options for Vegetarians, so this was great to see.  I had the Sweet Potato and Quinoa buger with beetroot and whipped feta.  It was a wholesome burger with good flavour and the beetroot provided a nice crunch.  The side order of chips were huge and delicious.  A shared portion of giant cous cous with broad beans, feta, mint and pink grapefruit was fresh and moorish.  The juice of the day was ginger, carrot and beetroot which was very refreshing.  They also have an enticing selection of unusual cocktails that I am dying to try on a return visit.  Others at the table had the Pork Belly Mac and Cheese and the Pork Shoulder bun with fennel, apple and beets.  Everything was really fresh and the flavour combinations all worked a treat.  

ImageImageThe oreo chocolate cake was one of the most delicious desserts I had ever tasted.  An oreo biscuit base with a layer of peanut butter topped with indulgent chocolate ganache.  Unfortunately, it was eaten before I could even take a photo!

The north side of the city centre was in dire need of a new great eating place and this one is sure to be very popular.   

http://www.thewoollenmills.com/

 

Roast Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce and Roasted Sweet Potato

1 Jul

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Whip up some homemade barbecue sauce in minutes and use it on chicken breasts (on the bone), chicken thighs, wings or even a full roast chicken.  Chicken on the bone with the skin on is best.  I cooked it in the oven but you could use it for the barbeque too.

For the barbecue sauce – (enough for 4)

1 tbsp soy sauce

5-6 drops of Tabasco sauce (or a fresh chili)

1 tsp paprika (smoked, if you have it)

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 tbsp malt vinegar

2 tbsp Worstershire Sauce

Black pepper

Put all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer.  Leave to simmer for 4-5 minutes, turning it down if it starts to boil up too much. 

Take some whole sweet potatoes (don’t peel them), wrap them in tinfoil and place in a baking tray.  Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 45 mins (depending on their size).  Prod them with a knife to see if they are soft before taking them out.

Put your chicken into a baking tray, cut a few slits in the skin, smear it with the barbecue sauce (rub it in with your hands), cover the baking tray with tinfoil and bake in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees for about 35 minutes for chicken breasts (for full chicken or wings, follow pack cooking instructions). 

Unwrap your sweet potatoes, cut down the middle and add a little dollop of butter or a slug of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Serve with the chicken and the extra sauce drizzled over the top.  Add a little bit of salad, some fresh spinach leaves with sliced peppers for some crunch.

 

Fade Street Social, Fade Street, Dublin 2

21 Nov

The new restaurant by Dylan McGrath had only been open to the public a week whenever we tried it for an early dinner one Saturday evening.  The finish of the interior was top- class, with conventional tables in the front area, stools at the bar, a back lowered seating area and a slick bar upstairs with comfy brown leather sofas. 

We hadn’t booked so were only able to secure seats at the bar, but this turned out to be an unexpected treat as the production line of the kitchen was right in front of us so we could entertain ourselves by watching the chefs turn out the food at lightening speed and with great precision.  For a restaurant that was only recently opened, the smoothness of the operation was impressive, only occasionally interrupted by a sulky looking Dylan McGrath who was pacing around the place.

The menu is tapas style, but not Spanish.  There is an eclectic mix of meat, seafood, vegetables and salads ranging from about 5euro to around 10euro, with notable use of Irish produce and free-range chicken.  We were advised by the waiter that 2-3 dished each was advisable.

It was difficult to choose from the tempting sounding offerings, but I finally decided on Cod Cheeks fried in breadcrumbs with carrot puree (8euro) and Baby Crab Toasties with melted cheese, duck egg, hollandaise, skinny fries and truffle mayonnaise (6.50 euro). We shared the chips with hollandaise (3.50euro).  The cod cheeks were succulent and tender, with just the right amount of crispy exterior, set off by the sweet carrot.  The crab toasties were light and delicate, allowing the subtle flavours of crab to come through.  Watching the pass however, I wished I’d gone for the soft-shell crab that was deep-fried whole and looked amazing.

Rob opted for the Chinese Pork Belly with Asian spices and crispy peanut brittle (9euro).  It was sticky and tender with a delicious crunch of peanut.  He also got the Chicken Popcorn, which was strips of lightly floured and fried chicken mixed with actual popcorn (7.25 euro).  The flavours weren’t strong but it was an interesting dish, especially in terms of texture.

For dessert, we shared the Basil sugar doughnuts with lychee and mango (6.50euro).  These were probably the highlight of the meal for me.  Fresh, warm doughnuts that were filled with a gooey lychee filling and with a mango side puree to add extra moisture to the soft dough.  The balance was perfect and the flavours were great.

Overall, this place is a great asset to the Dublin restaurant scene.  It is pushing the boundaries, yet does not fall into the trap of being a gimick.  There were so many interesting things on the menu that I am sure that I will be returning to try out some more of them.

 

Mushashi Noodles and Sushi Bar, Capel St, Dublin 1

25 Apr

Although there are lot of Asian restaurants and cafes on Capel Street, the standard can be a bit hit and miss. However,  Mushashi Noodles, the newest to open, is getting consistantly good reviews for it’s Japanese food.

It is small but nicely decorated, clean and simple. The lunch main courses were all €7.99, but you could also choose from the full dinner menu (main courses were about €12 or €13 euro) or from the extensive sushi menu.  It is BYOB (with a €4 corkage charge) so could be a cheap option for a dinner in town.

We were served a cup of complimentary green tea when we sat down.  I went for the vegetable cha han, which is a stir-fried rice and vegetable dish served with miso soup on the side.  The rice was mixed with crunchy broccoli, peppers, mange tout, onion and a generous supply of cashew nuts.  It was all cooked in a light but flavoursome sauce that kept everything moist and moorish.  It was topped with a fried egg for added moisture and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.  I have had a similar dish at Wagamama, but this was much better.  All the ingredients tasted fresh and it wasn’t too dry.  It was also cheaper than Wagamama.

Rob had the chicken katsu curry from the main menu.  It was a large portion of chicken fried in light panko breadcrumbs and with the traditional katsu curry sauce, rice and salad.  The chicken was moist inside and crispy on the outside and the katsu sauce was deep and delicious. 

The staff were friendly and the atmosphere was good.  I will definately be back.

Terra Madre, Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin 1

2 Apr

This unassuming little Italian has been open for a few months and has been gaining attention for it’s no nonsense approach to traditional Italian cooking.  Down some steps off Bachelor’s Walk, you feel as if you are far from the busy Dublin street that you have just descended from when you enter this place.  The space is small but is airy and is filled with a charming haphazard mix of tables and chairs. 

The menu is tiny, but then again it is typical of a genuine Italian.  A few of the ingredients we were unusual with and when we enquired as to what they were, our friendly waiter obligingly brought us little tasters from the kitchen.  You can tell straight away that there is a passion and knowledge for the ingredients they are using here.

For starter we shared the bruschetta with caper sprouts, drizzled with a lemon infused olive oil.  I had never had caper sprouts before but they were an interesting taste sensation of a tangy citrus with the texture of samphire.  Two portions was enough for three to share.

For main courses we all went for the the pasta with tomato sauce (€11.50), opting to save trying the wild boar pasta or the rabbit gnocci to another time.  The pasta was like spaghetti, but was made with eggs (again according to our waiter).  The sauce was a simple pasta sauce but the depth of flavour was really beautiful.  Along with the fresh, home-made pasta with a nice firm texture, the meal was straightforward but was perfect.  The ingredients were allowed to speak for themselves.  The waiter brought us some bread to mop up any last remnants of sauce on our plates.

For dessert we shared a baked pear with chocolate and nuts, and the chocolate cake, which is flown in from Itay.  The pear was nice but was swiftly ignored when the chocolate cake was tasted.  Layers of chocolate sponge, cream, chocolate mousse, and topped with a chocolate ganache layer made this cake a chocolate-lovers dream but also light and morish so a perfect end to a carbohydrate meal. 

The atmosphere is great, with a mixture of families and young people.  The staff are all Italian and their enthusiasm for the food really rubbed off on the customers.  You would be forgiven for thinking you were on holidays.

The bottle of house red (€22) was lovely and perfect with the food. 

All together the bill came to €84 for three people, including wine.

I will definately be back.

Boulevard Cafe, 27 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2

7 Mar

I had been to this restaurant a few months ago and had a bad experience (they mixed up an order and then said they couldn’t make what had originally been ordered because they had turned off the oven).  However,  as it generally looks busy I thought I’d try it again.  We went on a Saturday night for their €60 deal for two people – 3 courses and a bottle of wine.

The restaurant was packed, and there was a lively atmosphere.  Although the decor is more day-time cafe than evening meal, it is still nice, even though the tables are a little too close together. 

We both ordered the goats cheese tart for starter.  This is a fairly simple dish to make, yet they had managed to not quite get it right.  There was far too much cheese- a big squashed slab of it – sitting on top of a miserly bit of pastry. 

For main course I went for the fish.  The cod was sitting on top of a bed of mashed potato and garnished with fennel and drizzled with a tomato and pepper sauce.  There was a lot of faults with this dish.  Firstly, the skin on the fish was not crisped up nicely.  Secondly, the fennel was very undercooked, so instead of a sweet aniseed flavour to complement the fish, there were raw chunks.  The sauce didn’t really taste of anything and the mashed potato… well it was standard mashed potato!  Never going to be the most inspired accompaniment for fish, least of all when there’s no other flavours to bring the dish to life.

Rob chose the roast Barbary duck with cabbage and potato dauphanoise and a berry jus.  The a la Carte price for this dish is €24.  It was also a sad disapointment.  There wasn’t enough sauce and it wasn’t strong enough so the duck, which was a bit over cooked and tough to begin with, remained dry and fairly uninspired.  The potatoes and cabbage were fine, but nothing to write home about.

Dessert was a forgettable affair of a sticky toffee pudding.  It was so boring that I didn’t even bother to waste time taking a photo of it!  A lump of cake and some sauce and cream, which tasted vaguely like school dinners.

To top it all off, the service was really bad.  There were not enough staff and one of the waiters in particular was quite unfriendly and stand-offish.  To be honest, I really don’t understand why this place seems to be doing fairly well.  The only thing it has going for it is it’s location.  They are charging top-end prices for bog-standard food.