I was recently invited to a bloggers night at the new(ish) restaurant in Dandelion Bar on Stephen’s Green as they were revamping their menu and wanted to get some feedback. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this and I know as a reader I’m always a bit wary when I read posts about these sort of PR exercises because it’s very rare that you’ll find a negative one.
Rest assured though, if the food was poor I would have no problem saying so – even if it meant I was never invited to one of these events again – but thankfully the dishes I had were very good. Our opener, an amuse bouche of scallop with cauliflower puree and a sweet, sticky sauce flecked with raisins was actually the standout of the whole night for me so it was a good start.
For the most part, we all ordered different things to try to hit as much of the menu as possible, a few of us had been eyeing the ham hock Wellington which David from Kitchen 72 ordered: a big terrine-like slab of braised ham encased in puff pastry with apple and horseradish on the side; it was outstanding although the portion was huge for a starter. I went for the chicken liver parfait accompanied by an apple chutney and also some preserved cherries, the cherries were a fantastic touch and the rationale behind the foie gras ‘cherry’ from Modernist Cuisine makes a lot more sense now.
We moved onto mains and again tried a wide selection of dishes; out of what I tasted I thought my choice was the best: a whole beef cheek sitting on mashed potatoes with a deep, gelatinous sauce made from the braising liquid. There was also a huge shepherd’s pie with a pungent horseradish mash that Emily ordered which was very good although it could have done with less potato to allow the shredded lamb shank it was sitting atop really shine. David from The Silver Chicken and Jason, there in lieu of his girlfriend, Edith, who was ill, both ordered the duck and it was my least favourite tasting of the night because, for some inexplicable reason, there was an overpowering and bitter garlic puree detracting from the otherwise lovely star anise sauce.
For dessert, rather than us choosing from the menu a selection was sent to the table by the kitchen for everyone to try. The best was a fabulous mascarpone cream with winter berries and close behind it a cinnamon infused apple pie. There was also an assiette of chocolate with a decent cheesecake and a fondant that was disappointingly cooked all they through so it didn’t burst when you cut into it.
Naturally, we were very well looked after by the staff and in particular, Karl, the sommelier, was very knowledgeable and gave us some fantastic matches. The food here is very hearty, you certainly won’t leave hungry and although some might prefer to have a few lighter options to choose from I think the angle they’re going for is proper winter fare. It’s also worth considering that this was the first night they’d served the new menu so it will take a little while for everything to bed in perfectly but the signs are very promising.