Well. Have I told you food blogging is a chore? Well it is. Trust me. Can you imagine having to spend a Wednesday evening trying out a 7 course tasting menu in restaurant you have ben looking to try for some time? Yes, a real chore.
Having received the very kind invitation to attend an evening in Ananda to sample the tasting menu, I toddled along to Dundrum. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I had heard good things, from people who are hard to impress. While I knew the restaurant was an Indian restaurant, I wasn’t expecting to encounter what we (mistakenly) consider to be Indian food.
There was an awful lot to like about this menu, it read very well. There was a visible fusion (in the good way) of local Irish ingredients given an exotic treatment. There was St. Tola’s goats cheese, Wicklow lamb, free-range Irish chicken. These were ingredients that suggested you were onto something good.
The amuse bouche of St.Tola goat cheese and potato cake was served with a delicious walnut chutney, which provided both flavour and a very pleasant crunchy texture to complement the potato cake. A small burst of acidity came in the form of a cube of roasted pear. Delicious.
One of the meat courses, which I may or may not have stated on twitter I would trade my first-born for, was the tandoori guinea fowl. It was a guinea fowl supreme in Kashmiri chili and carom seeds. Served with avocado raita and perched on parmesan and curry leaf rubbed Parsnips. Now, I’m not sure how the parsnips felt about that, but I certainly enjoyed it. Disclosure: I don’t really like parsnips. They seem to attract bad cooking. This was not so here. They were crunchy, chewy and had a fantastic flavour.
The Jardaloo Murgh Korma was where the free range Irish chicken popped up. This was a tasty dish, and looked a lot simpler on the plate than it tasted. The sauce was creamy and the stuffing of wild mushrooms, apricot and spinach gave enormous flavour. It was served with naan breads that were a delight to eat.
The Wicklow lamb popped up next. This was served with garlic naan, again delicious. The lamb was cooked slightly more than I expected, however it was so tender and had been treated so well, it was utterly delicious when eaten with the accompanied spiced chickpeas. The almond and mint pesto was a very fresh sensation and is something I will try to reproduce at home.
By the time dessert came out I was starting to feel rather full- but I struggled on and gave it my best. The coffee liqueur infused dark chocolate mousse was just delicious. At this stage in the evening, after 6 other very very good courses, the food critics in all of us were trying their damndest to escape. The term nostalgic was used, to describe the texture of the base of the mousse. Yes, I am hanging my head in shame. This was served with a very tasty and well executed kumquat macaroon and a very delicious passionfruit sorbet.
All of this was accompanied by wines that were paired with some attention with the food, by Benny who made sure we were well looked after all night. Worthy of particular mention was the red which came with the lamb, Herdade dos Grous.
As I said earlier, I had heard Ananda was the home of some very fine cooking, evidenced by the fact that Sunil Ghai, the Executive chef was awarded Food & Wines ‘Best Chef’ award in 2009. What I have to say, having (finally) eaten there is that Ananda does not get the attention it deserves on the Dublin culinary scene. There are good ingredients, being treated very well in this kitchen. While 75 euro is not what you would spend on dinner on a daily basis, the value for money this tasting menu offers is second to none.
I will most certainly be back, this place is a gem that I wish I had discovered sooner.
P.S. If you want to see really pretty photos of the food- you should check out this post and see Malachy’s deadly photos.