Tag Archives: Dublin

Morrison Grill, Ormond Quay.

25 Apr

The Morrison Hotel on Ormond Quay reopened earlier this year after a fairly extensive refurbishment.  I was only ever in its previous incarnation once before owing largely to my tender age at the time. It’s very different now. With the hotel’s refurbishment has come the Morrison Grill.  I was invited along to sample some of their dishes with some other bloggers. And their cocktail menu was given a slight workout too.

Pre-dinner cocktail in Quay 14.

Pre-dinner cocktail in Quay 14.

It was a bleak, sleety evening and after a chilling Dublin bike ride down the quays, the evening kicked off enjoying the surrounds of Quay 14. After a restorative cocktail, or two, we got to sample some of the morsels pictured below. The deep fried olives were something I had never tried before. They were all sorts of fried, salty goodness.

Olives trying to hide...

Olives trying to hide…

We got to sample a range of starters from the kitchen, headed up by John O’Leary. I loved the mussels and cured salmon.  The centerpiece of the menu (literally) is their Josper charcoal grill. This is an interesting piece of kit that is fired by charcoal and air and can burn at temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius. Toasty like.  A grill like this needs to be road-tested with a decent hunk of meat, so I went for the beef rump steak. It was cooked perfectly (medium-rare, if you’re asking). The fries it was served with were a triumph. I normally despise chunky chips. However these ‘sumo’ fries were delicious. I’d say there is methodology behind their cooking.

John O'Leary in action at the Josper grill

John O’Leary in action at the Josper grill

For dessert the kitchen again sent out a selection of what was on offer. While the smoked applewood honeycomb was very different and a new one for this seasoned gob, the star of the show was the lemon tart with rose-water sorbet. It was just deadly. End of.

If you haven’t been in since it reopened, pop your head in. The bar and dining space are very pleasant arenas to pass a few hours and the care and attention for the food and cocktails is evident.

The Hot Stove, Parnell Square

26 Mar

Dublin has a lot of new restaurants. They are sprouting up everywhere. One such example is The Hot Stove on Parnell Square. It’s in a basement on the square, on the Rotunda entrance side.

Off the bat, the room didn’t appeal to me. It was nearly painfully bright. Personally I do better in soft lighting. The white walls, coupled with bright lights, meant that if you were there with the in-laws it could feel like an authentic interrogation chamber. On the plus side- the photos of the food turned out really well. Nicely lit.

We were greeted warmly and our soggy outer garments were taken, it was biblically wet that day. Other waiters circled, and gave some solicited and unsolicited advice re: the menu. The wine recommended was towards the pricier end of the spectrum, and coupled with one of the more expensive dishes on the menu, would be quite pleasant for my taste-buds I was assured, but perhaps not for my wallet. Additionally when we were asked did we want a side dish and the duck fat fries at €5 were recommended, we skipped them and went for the crushed artichokes. We were then asked *again* did we want fries. Up-sell tastic. Apart from that the service was attentive and friendly throughout.

An amuse-bouche of parsnip soup, parsley pesto and chorizo was exactly what we needed to start our defrost from the night outside and was very pleasant. Breads, one home-made and one from the Paris Bakery nearby were lovely and served with in-house churned butter.

I started with the seared mackerel. A nice piece of seared mackerel, the rilette was a little unremarkable, but it was with a crunchy and fresh fennel and apple salad. The cube of apple jelly, added nothing to the dish as it lacked any discernible flavour. The confirmed foodie, again my partner in dining went for the oxtail raviolo. The filling was flavoursome and unctuous but I thought the pasta was a little under, but she reckoned it had just been overworked.

Rabbit and some glare

Rabbit and some glare

Mains- I went for the rabbit. It was seasoned nicely, but a little over, and the confit cannelloni was quite rubbery. The lentils it came with were very tasty. My companion’s hake was a nice dish, served with black olive gnocchi and salsify. The salsify was delicious, and cooked perfectly, however overall it was agreed the dish lacked seasoning. The side of crushed Jerusalem artichokes was actually the dish of the night. Wonderful texture, and had bags of flavour.

For dessert I was served a perfectly cooked chocolate fondant. I didn’t like the orange-blossom sorbet, it reminded me of a Vitamin C cordial I was force-fed as a child. Herself got a rhubarb crumble- which was her favourite dish of the night. The rhubarb had just been cooked enough that it fell apart so retained a very pleasing bit of bite.

All in all with a bottle of wine and two double espresso, it came in at €121. There is great potential in The Hot Stove. The menu reads well. They just need to turn down the lights, turn up some of the flavours and cooking- and stop the unnecessary levels of up sell.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

17 Mar

Happy Paddy’s day to all of you nice people in whatever corner of the globe this finds you. I googled Irish proverbs- you know, embracing the plastic Paddy for the day that’s in it. My favourite:

“If you put a silk dress on a goat he is a goat still.”

Well. That has upset my plans for today greatly.

Paddy’s Day always brings up conflicting emotions in my mind.

Today anyone (un)lucky enough to be in Dublin city-center will be surrounded by tourists tracing back their Irish roots, to a surname they can’t pronounce, because their great-granny’s cat once crossed the road in front of someone who was from Roscommon.

On Tuesday or whenever Joe Duffy is put back on the air, there will be the usual torrent of aul ones complaining about the youth of today, how the parade was a little too joyful and how this wouldn’t have happened if Bertie was still in charge- he wasn’t that bad after all.

My latest Paddy’s Day pet-peeve is the torrent of  Irish recipes’ I have seen from abroad. Making what typically look like pretty hideous concoctions.  Corned beef and cabbage cupcakes, topped with Guinness frosting, served with a healthy side-order of stereotypes.

Playful, tongue in cheek rant over. Good memories:

Standing on a window-ledge watching the parade with my godmother years ago. (Dame Street- it used to be the English tourism board’s office- think its something different now…)

When our school won a rugby tournament for the first time in 33 years and we walked the trophy across the Liffey. Then proceeded to walk it up O’Connell street and beyond. Gardai weren’t overly thrilled mind…. Someone was threatened with arrest for waving a flag…. no really. They remain at large.

And there was one, just one, in my living memory that was actually sunny. I remember walking around town sweltering. I don’t know what the forecast is for today, but I presume there will be several marching band members from Texas or similar that are treated for hypothermia. Batons frozen in hand.

So what are your Paddy’s Day memories? What does it mean to you?

M & L Szechuan Chinese Restaurant, Cathedral Street

28 Feb

I went to school in Dublin 1. Back then, on the verge of Celtic Tiger Dublin, it was colourful. Colourful in the ‘mind your wallet’ kind of way. This coming from a proud northsider. Back then one passed boarded up shop-fronts on the way to school. Dry cleaners and corner shops with grandiose names called after American cities. On a recent trip to my alma mater, with my food-blogger hat on, I was amazed and tantalised by the number of eateries on my old walk to school. One of which is M &L Chinese.

This came onto my radar on twitter a few months back- via Stefano over at WholeMeal. I was due to meet a school friend of mine for dinner- he is accustomed to good food- so I sought out recommendations of the ethnic and Dublin 1 variety. Many recommended this place, so I decided it was time to try it.

My dining companion, Dr. Food as he shall be known, was a little late arriving- no doubt a life needed to be saved (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.) While I waited, I was seated and some very friendly staff provided water and menus and encouraged me to ask them for assistance in choosing my meal. A good start.

When the good doctor arrived, fashionably late, we ordered a variety of dishes with some guidance from the friendly wait staff. I started with pork dumplings. I think these were the highlight of the meal- delicious little things- packed with pork mince that left your mouth salivating after the bang of umami. The good doctor started with some prawns in egg yolk- these were eaten cheerfully- a little unremarkable and dry for my taste but they were far from unpleasant.

After this himself had chicken with dried chillies and peanuts. This was happily munched on.  I had crispy duck with mushrooms and chillies and it’s not on the English menu. If I can digress for one moment- I find the best way to eat in these places is to ask the staff what to order. Often they take you off the beaten track with glorious results or indeed they suggest mythical dishes, not on the menu. This was one such dish. It was crispy, spicy and savoury all at the same time. It was also gigantic- to the extent that after the dumplings I was far too full- it made for a wonderful lunch the next day.

We didn’t bother for any dessert- we just lingered and gave a nod to the staff when we wanted to leave as they enjoyed a post work meal in the corner. They didn’t make even the slightest attempt to rush us out and let us chat away.

With 3 beers each and a side of fried vegetables the total came to €58. M&L is worth a visit- it came with good recommendations and didn’t disappoint. The staff are great and are eager to ensure you enjoy your meal. Can’t ask for much more.

Pho Viet, Parnell Street

20 Jan

People often ask me what my favourite restaurant is. If I had to choose, it’s a place I ate in on my J1 in New York. Nha Trang is a Vietnamese restaurant on Baxter Street, just off Canal Street. I talk about it in my New York food guide. It’s a NY institution at this stage. Dublin had been lacking places to get my Vietnamese fix, as the commute to Nha Trang is slightly prohibitive. Fear no more, as Pho Viet has opened on Dublin’s Parnell Street.

Prawns in a see-through number....

Prawns in a see-through number….

I ate with one of my regular partners in dining, the confirmed foodie. I must state at this point that the staff were very good. While I was waiting for the confirmed foodie to arrive, I chatted with them and they were very willing to explain what to order from the menu and how best to enjoy/eat certain dishes. The menu is compact- something I like to see.

I opted for Goi Cuon, fresh Vietnamese spring rolls. Prawns, mint and veg wrapped in a soft rice roll. This was a fresh and zingy start to the meal. Sarah had the Banh Xeo. A crispy rice pancake with pork, prawns and vegetables inside. This was served with some lettuce and mint along with a dipping sauce. It was very delicious.

For my main course I opted for Bun Bo Hue. A spicy noodle soup, with sliced beef and pork. It was a miserable enough evening in Dublin and this soup was the perfect antidote. It had heat, a variety of cuts of meat and was a very generous portion. Sarah had Pho Ga, a chicken noodle soup. Again she chose very wisely. Her dish was another warming soup. Richly spiced with delicate slivers of chicken, noodles and assorted greens. Our mains were served with a plate of bean sprouts, chilli slices and herbs if you wanted to modify your dish in any way.

Throughout the meal the staff flitted around and were very keen to make sure we were enjoying our meal. I had seen that they did Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk. I wanted to try it. After some teething problems (read: spilling the coffee) as I figured out how the filter worked- this capped off a great meal.

Pho Viet is another gem on Parnell Street and is fantastic value. The total for 2 courses each, a coke and a coffee was €33. My advice, go there soon. Before Dublin finds out.

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