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Saturday, September 29, 2007

CURRAN'S





CURRAN’S CHEF SCORES
CUSTOMER WINS

I have never been let down in Curran’s in Adelaide Street. I have been in there with parties big and small and never a complaint.

The latest visit produced the same result. Good friendly service and top class food, well prepared and at a decent price.

Guidebooks regularly recommend that you check out the Plat du Jour when you are on holiday. I wasn't on holiday but I did take the Chef's Special on my most recent visit to Curran’s. I’m glad I did.

It was pan-fired monkfish, accompanied by vegetables (spinach, carrot, onion – cooked to a perfect point, not too hard and, the spinach excepted, not at all soft), and laid on a bed of potatoes with mozzarella and served with a rich lemon sauce. It was a tasty and substantial treat for €24.95, a bit more that I would like to pay for a main course but well worth it on this occasion.

The wine, which cost €17.95 for the bottle, was a Pinot Grigio Chardonnay from Italy (Pasqua). It was dry and crisp, a hint of green apples in the taste, and went extremely well with the monkfish and the rich sauce.

Dessert was a Pavlova with fresh fruit. They do a good Pavlova here, the real thing, but the fruit, while nice, could have been a bit more exotic. There was just too much apple in it.

All in all, another enjoyable visit to Curran’s. The restaurant has an upstairs room for large parties. I had one there last year and I was glad to see it fully engaged the other night with sounds of joy and laughter coming down the stairs.

Verdict? 9.75 out of 10. Now if there had been more variety in the fruit that accompanied the Pavlova….




Saturday, September 22, 2007

AMICUS


AMICUS IS HOT
But avoid the draught!

The lively Amicus restaurant, in its relatively new location in Paul Street, is about as central as you can get in the city. It has an extensive reasonably priced menu and produces good food. It doesn’t do reservations and sometimes you have to wait for a table.

Our latest visit started for me with a bowl of Moules Mariniere (dear enough at €10.00), with the traditional white wine, garlic and onion sauce. The cooking time was obviously spot-on and they were very tasty, though I could have done with a piece of bread. The Advisor began with a small bowl of Olives (€3.00). These too can be recommended.

On to the main course, where I took a chance and went for the Roasted Vegetable Salad. It consisted of Courgettes, Aubergines, Peppers and Onions, laid on a bed of couscous and baby spinach and served with a few splashes of organic yogurt and pesto. There was quite a plateful. The spinach and couscous bed worked very well and I enjoyed the peppers and the onions but I must admit I found the Aubergine and Courgette fairly soggy and therefore heavy going.

The Advisor went for the Sicilian curry, the chicken version. That was served in its own bowl and accompanied, on the main plate, by rice, relish, etc. All nicely presented and a treat to eat.

We felt we had room for dessert but none of the seven on the list was very tempting so we gave it a skip and finished off the wine. The total bill came to €59.00, plus tip.

That wine was probably the highlight of the night. For €19.00, we got an organic Montgras Soleus Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. This is a top class wine that belies its price tag. It is refreshing with a strong herby flavour that lingers. It also comes with a 14% kick.

Maybe our Irish waitress was new to the job. She certainly didn't have any great knowledge of the menu. For instance, she was asked what vegetables accompanied a certain dish and her reply: “Peppers and things”. Could do better!

While Amicus is certainly a place to go to, there is one section within the place that you should try and avoid. That is around the entrance area. We have been there once or twice and felt the draughts. The entrance is screened off by big glass panels and there are tables right alongside. The trouble is that there is a small gap, running the full height of the panels, and the draughts get through there and make life uncomfortable (the big glass window onto Paul Street doesn’t help either). So if your waitress is taking you to a seat in that area, ask for a different table.

Ironically, having said all that, right outside is the smoking area and there, in a chilly September evening, the dedicated puffers, some in lightweight sleeveless tops, are enjoying themselves with no worries about draughts. It takes all kinds!
Amicus now have a Tapas bar in full operation upstairs and I look forward to paying a visit there and see how it compares with Boqueria in Bridge Street.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

BUCKNUTI








GO EAST YOUNG MAN
BUT NOT TOO FAR

















Just east of the city, in Riverstown, you will find the Bucknuti Restaurant, adjoining the BK2 Bar in the Hazelwood Shopping Centre. The name is Thai and many of the dishes, but by no means all, are Thai influenced.

From the extensive menu, I choose the pan roasted Cod fillet with Provencal vegetables, mushy green peas and home cut chips (€17.95). It was a smashing combination, the roasted veg (mainly pepper and aubergine) and peas mixing well with the fish to provide a light delight and the chips too were a cut above the normal.

Most of the desserts are €7.00 and I was very happy with mine: Peach and Orange crumble, with sauce anglaise and ice cream. It wasn't quite the crumble I was expecting but rather a tart with a crumble topping. The filling was mainly peach with possibly rind of orange. The custard was used sparingly and all together the result was a tasty light sweet that satisfied without leaving you with that filled up feeling.

The house wine was a Grenache Sauvignon blend. It was light and refreshing but maybe not great value for the €19.00.


Other family members were out eating as well on this particular night and good reports came back from The Barn (reliable, if expensive, set menu) and Amicus (cheerful and cheaper). Chicken dishes were recommended at each location: chicken breast (stuffed with a cream cheese and wrapped in bacon at The Barn) and a chargrilled chicken breast (her “usual” at Amicus).

Monday, September 3, 2007

WONDERFALL







EARLY BIRD SCORES AGAIN


(but sting in the tail...)



Greene’s, the restaurant by the waterfall in McCurtain Street, is a little bit pricier. But it is also a little bit better. I sampled their early bird (€28.00) recently and felt I had struck a culinary jackpot.

Starter was the Prawns Scampi (see menu illustration). They and the wedges looked scarce enough on the plate but were quite sufficient as a starter. Not just sufficient. They were excellent.

Main course was the Salmon. Oh, so tasty. And the vegetable accompaniment was also brilliant. The Advisor opted for the Toulouse Sausage. She doesn’t go far wrong. Indeed, she wasn't wrong at all. It was absolutely splendid and the Red Wind jus was one of the best sauces of its kind that we’ve ever come across.

After all that, we said we’d settle for a simple dessert and the Crème Caramel seemed to fit the bill. Again there was surprise. The citron just made this plate. Again so tasty. Demolishable!!! But at a leisurely pace.

Service was the usual league of nations that we’ve come to expect in Ireland. But that is only half the story. The young people smiled. They were friendly and above all they were efficient.

By the way, my wine was yet another Pinot Grigio. Again this one (€22.5) was from the Venice region but was tarty and bright and came quite close to matching the bottle from the Trentino region that I found so appealing in Switzerland (see Swissroll07.blogspot.com).


Oh Oh! After that so positive review, sad to report that during that night and into the following day, each of us suffered from an upset stomach! Arret