For some reason I still think of Pichet as a ‘new’ restaurant even though it’s been around for over four years now. We went quite a bit when they first opened but then came the infamous ban on children under the age of two after 6pm. Now, I would never think of bringing a small child out to dinner so late and while young children were still welcome earlier in the day I remember thinking at the time it was more that they were less unwelcome.
Mentally, I chalked the restaurant off whenever we were thinking of going out for lunch but when writing this review I researched what Nick Munier had actually said and realised I may have been a bit harsh. The audio is no longer on the Newstalk website but I found some quotes and apparently his son was badly scalded when someone bumped into his high chair when they were dining out. The reasoning seemed to be that this sort of incident is more likely during a busier evening service although the cynic in me thinks the mention of buggies and prams taking up room –which could, presumably, be filled by paying customers – figured just as highly in the decision as those safety concerns.
Regardless, it just shows how important it is for an establishment to make sure their message is conveyed properly to the public. I’m sure I’m not the only parent who avoided the restaurant on what turned out to be erroneous grounds and while, given how popular they are, Pichet probably don’t care about losing my business, not everywhere has the luxury of an excess of customers.
Anyway, enough digression, let’s talk about the food. Starters and mains were solid and well executed but read a little bit better than they ate: an on trend North African influenced dish of shredded lamb breast, rolled and breadcrumbed with harissa aioli and chick peas; a deconstructed Waldorf salad with hazelnuts instead of walnuts artfully arranged over thin slices of porchetta; a beautiful piece of cod accompanied by a boned chicken wing and chicken jus, a clever pairing I’d been wanting to try for some time, the dish being helped even more by a lovely drape of lardo.
If it seems like I’m dashing though the savoury courses it’s because I am, I want to get to the desserts as quickly as possible. This was proper patisserie, the alchemy of sugar and fat producing dishes that are intensely pleasurable to eat. There was a luscious chocolate cake with salted caramel mousse, popcorn ice-cream, actual popcorn, marshmellows and a peanut praline. Across the table, banana bread filled with warm chocolate, caramel ice-cream, dulce de leche, chocolate mousse and candied pecans. Warm, cold, sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy, creamy, a ridiculous mix of tastes, textures and temperatures in sublime unison. So, ahem, yeah, the desserts here are very, very good indeed; the best I’ve had all year after The Greenhouse.
It’s always good to finish a meal on a high especially for a course that a lot of restaurants in Dublin seem to treat as an afterthought. There’s a varied and interesting wine list too with over twenty available by the glass, heavy on French wines naturally, although I’d be interested to see what the markup is like because there aren’t many bottles under thirty euro.
The bill at the end highlighted how the prices have crept up since we were last in (€120 with only me drinking) but the quality of the ingredients are undeniable and they wouldn’t be cheap: I’ve already talked about the fish but there was also a fabulously tender lamb rump I neglected to mention in my rush to gush about the desserts. And while I’m definitely glad we got back I still think we’ll be leaving the sprog at home in future…