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Corinna Dunne

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Corinna Dunne

  1. I visited recently for lunch, had the bone marrow and wild mushrooms on toast. Absolutely fantastic. And it’s not just the food. The space itself is cool in the most comfortable possible way, not a bit self-conscious and a buzzing atmosphere. A big hit with Steve too.
  2. Thanks Luisa. Nothing like the inside track! Actually I included two options, the any number any date option and a few specific dates with numbers. Last year I specified dates and didn't land a reservation (although I sent in my request quite late), but in the previous year, I managed to pick up a cancellation with the I'll take anything approach.
  3. It looks like they may have started taking reservations in elBulli. I sent in a request late last night and I have not received a standard reply... well, nothing actually. Send your request to: Luis Garcia bulli@elbulli.com The accepted wisdom is that it is best not to specify a date or number of people and keep it short. Best of luck!
  4. masterful understatement. I'm surprised they haven't used a quote from Nobbo's best mate and, arguably, greatest living Irishman "Give us yer fokkin money" on the poster. Would sum up the great chef's philosophy rather well. ← Yes, while he's at it, he might as well feed the world as well as Ireland "Let them eat pommes puree"
  5. I was in Petrus last week for dinner, and there were plenty of people there for special occasions (although nothing twee so don't get the wrong impression here). It's a nice space, service, food etc was excellent and it doesn't feel at all stuffy. There were only two tables that were "businessy". It would be lovely for a romantic dinner. It's a long time since I was in Le Gavroche, so unfortunately, can't update you on that.
  6. Since MPW's involvement with his other restaurant interests seems pretty tenuous, it will be interesting indeed to see what he means about feeding the poor starving Irish. Apart from the fact that absentee anything in Ireland - celeb chefs this century - is one of the less popular formulas.
  7. A bizarre tagline... does the article say anything about it?
  8. I watched last night's (have missed loads of them) and thought MPW came across really well. But then again, it seemed like some of it was straight footage rather than edited let's-tell-a-story-and-up-the-ratings segment. I really hate the reality format. Hopefullly MPW will get a decent series on the back of this.
  9. Link to article. ← Interesting Henny Penny spin, considering it seems like a reasonable action on Ramsay's part, but a topical piece from an Irish perspective as Ramsay is due to open his new restaurant in Enniskerry, just outside Dublin in October. The word is that the chef's table is already booked out for months.
  10. I know that this is called Hell’s Kitchen, but what’s going on with the church choral music and the exaltation of Marco on high? “Marco is wonderful, quite magical…. Marco, a genius?... Marco is God… he takes you with him, guides us through each night…” And Marco says: follow and you’ll see the light, do it for your children and your family, believe in me. So all happily follow the White Light and touch the hem of his apron except for little boy Blue who is about to skedaddle. Bizarre. By the end of the programme, after much “I am a caged animal, get me out of here” pacing, Marco looked decidedly odd and seemed to be slurring his words. Maybe it was the pressure of using a stock cube and not uttering the K-norr word repeatedly when he did it. Anyone impressed with the culinary knowledge to be gleaned last night?
  11. Hmmm… it’s great to see MPW on television… but Hell’s Kitchen? I am so sick of this formula. Yes… Marco is inspiring, has obviously won over the never heard of foie gras, pigs trotters or consomme brigade, and I do think that he’ll end up with a few silk purses at the end (just to stick with the pig references)… but it would be so much better if there was more cooking. Of all the chefs on TV, he’s the one who people most want to see cook… really cook. I was disappointed and was very glad to have a fast forward button. Hopefully now that he's back on the radar he will come up with his own more interesting TV formula.
  12. Jackie really was like that too- no editing required. She was sweet, but only in small doses and wide spaces- in an enclosed room it was like being faced with betty boop crossed with minnie mouse! ← She's what you'd call "grate TV"... so we'll probably be seeing plenty more of her and her partner (who is probably just practising for his real role in a .Jools-Holland-does-serious-music-Apprentice).
  13. Just wondering if anyone has used Broad Stripe Butchers. It’s a new online butcher run by Fairfax Meadow (who supplies the likes of Angela Hartnett, Michel and Alain Roux at the Waterside Inn, and Brian Turner). The deal is top meat at high street prices, and restaurant cuts are available, from larder-trimmed sirloin steaks to French-trimmed oven-ready five bone fore-ribs through to whole, oven-ready pheasant, partridge, guinea fowl and Gressingham duck. They’re also happy to fulfil requests for specific cuts or different meats. Anyway, they’re offering eGullet Society members a particularly attractive deal. At checkout just use the code EG40 and press apply button and you’ll get 40% off your first order (which must exceed £50 before discount) and free delivery. Unfortunately the offer doesn’t extend to Ireland.
  14. fitzy - I absolutely agree on the Tannery. I had a great meal a while back, can't go into too much detail yet as I've reviewed it for Irish Tatler (October issue). Paul Flynn is a very, very competent chef.
  15. Kevin Thornton was named Irish Chef of the Year at the Food & Wine 2007 Awards on Sunday. A very popular choice. He got a standing ovation. Everyone likes to see a man bounce back. He was in top form and mentioned about his slightly bad start to the year with the chips incident, which got a great laugh.
  16. Casilda Grigg gave Bincho Yakitori a pretty good review in last Saturday’s Telegraph. And it does kushiyaki.
  17. Thanks Man - that's more or less what I expected. I understand that EU regulations require that all fish to be served raw must first be frozen to an internal temperature of 20 °C or lower for at least 24 hours (to kill anything potentially dangerous). Is this being implemented in the UK?
  18. Yo Sushi has just opened in Dublin. I have never been to it in London. I know that it's conveyor belt sushi, but what sort of quality is it? Is it consistent and is it relative value for money?
  19. Great pics Neu. Is this the first time that Blumenthal has staged something like this, or does he participate every year?
  20. Great pictures johnnyd, excellent blog. I'm really missing Maine lobster now! Any chance that you will be going diving for sea urchins? And yes, I'm really missing that excellent uni sushi in the Japanese restaurant that you recommended in Portland last year.
  21. Adding to Judith's suggestions above, I had very good meals in both Hissop and Cinc Sentits last October, extremely good quality for the reasonable prices they charge. I preferred Hissop, but will counter this by saying that the CS experience was for a large party, which they catered beyond expectations, but did mean that we didn't fully explore the menu. I see you are considering Quimet i Quimet. I would highly recommend it. It's such a pleasant experience and feels very much like a locals place.
  22. What's that then? As in 'that's a cracker. It's the way I tell 'em. Frank Carson etc' ? Is it the done thing in Dublin to write reviews in the present tense? It confuses the hell out of at least one reader but then I've just had lunch. S ← Perhaps it's just the "Dunne" thing... ! As for the cracker filo brick... it is probably horribly self-explanatory.
  23. Before the new restaurant opened in the Shelbourne, there were all sorts of rumours around town. Nobu was coming, no he wasn’t, yes, maybe… and in the end, an unknown known was announced which was possibly wise. Lessons learned from the rare sighted Jean Cristophe Novelli in La Stampa perhaps, or maybe just a quick break-even tot which confirmed that big names + big money = big risk, and may be just on the wrong side of the popularity curve anyway. Particularly in sceptical Dublin. That said, everyone expects Ramsay’s new place in Wicklow (due to open in September), to be the exception to this rule. John Mooney is the executive chef of the new Saddle Room, an American with an Irish bloodline. He has headed the kitchen in New York’s ‘W’ Hotel, opened India’s only Organic Restaurant in the Taj Hotel, and was named ‘Best Hotel Chef’ in the USA by The James Beard Foundation, so has quite a few culinary notches on his belt. His concept for the new Saddle Room restaurant is tight and focused. It’s basically seafood and steaks. All I needed was a reservation. “We’re booked up for the next two months,” I was told on the phone by the front desk. And he was emphatic. Every single dinner and lunch was completely booked out. Even the oyster bar. So he agreed to put me on the waiting list for a cancellation. Later that afternoon, I got a call from one of the Saddle Room staff, and it appeared that there was plenty of availability and a date was set. Just about every review I've read on the restaurant charted a similar story, so obviously a serious teething problem which I presume has been well ironed out by now. The entrance to the restaurant is to the side of the sweeping staircase in the foyer, an attractive gatekeeper checks reservations and the first thing you see is an impressive marble oyster bar and an open kitchen at the back. It looks good, with crisp chequerboard tiles on the floor and some barstools at the counter. We turn left and pass the padded-cell stretch, a number of semi-private dining booths cocooned in gold quilting which wouldn’t look out of place in Dubai. Then we are through to what used to be the Side Door restaurant. And it works. It feels much more comfortable with its printed wallpaper and swirly-patterned carpets. There’s a bit of a gentlemen’s club air to it. The view onto Kildare Street probably helps. The white-linen-clad tables are a generous size and well spaced; the chairs are comfortable and the lounge music blends nicely. Service is friendly, and bread is quickly brought to the table (nice and warm, with a good crust) and we embark on the easiest piece of single page menu reading for some time. It’s concise and to the point; an American-styled menu (appetisers and entrees) with the Irish palate firmly in mind. Starters on the dinner menu range from €9 for a green salad to €19 for pan-seared foie gras. Nothing jumps out as being particular inventive, but the seafood chowder for €10 and crab cakes for €12 sound good. And there are four choices of oyster: Clare, Galway, Carlingford and French Claire at €2.50 per bi-valve. The wine list is unusual but comprehensive, with a commendable number of wines by the glass starting at €8, half bottles starting at €14 and for deeper pockets, two vertical options, and a 1949 Petrus for €6000. The list is sectioned into styles, eg light bodied, fruity, deep bodied, which is interesting, but is not an easy price-point read. Apparently it was compiled in the States. After about 20 minutes, our starters arrive. The oysters are good (one of each type plus two more Galway's), served on the half-shell on crushed ice with a little bowl of Mignonette sauce. So, well sourced, and nicely presented. Two crab cakes are served with a nice little salad, lifted by fine strips of roasted pepper. They are tasty, un-bulked by potato, but not quite as good as you can get for less in the Mermaid, and the tame aioli could have done with a bit more oomph. Main courses “From the Grill” start with a 12oz sirloin for €32 and rise to a 10oz tenderloin for €36 and an18oz T-bone for €37. If you think swordfish steak is worth eating, it’s €26 and tiger prawns are €33. There is a choice of sauces for the steak, but if you want anything else - fundamentals like chips or vegetables for instance - add €5 per side order. Roast rack of Wicklow lamb with potato gratin is €41 and the roasted organic chicken comes with mash and braised greens for €27. Further fish options (no sides) include pan-seared sea bass (farmed) for €35; “Gin & Tonic” grilled salmon (farmed) for €34 and grilled black sole for €39. After a lengthy wait, our T-bone steak and rack of lamb arrive, both presented on wooden boards inset with a black cast iron tray that you often hear sizzling in mid-priced American steakhouses. There is no sizzle, not even a watt of heat, just a solitary steak and a point I don’t get. A white plate would have been so much more appealing. The chips arrive, skins on (very TGI Friday, well this is a personal thing, I don’t really like skins on) not too crisp and over-salted and a dish of acceptable creamed spinach. The steak has not reached the right level of charring on the outside and is well past its medium-rare ordered status. Which is a shame, because it is an extremely good piece of meat. Well-aged and full of flavour. The lamb - a generous full rack of six - is another fine piece of meat, cooked medium as ordered but somehow a bit flaccid. Maybe it spent too long under the lights. The gratin, in its own little dish is tasty enough, but way too runny and is uncharacteristically bolstered with cheese on top. We battle to get attention to get our glasses of tap water refilled. Desserts are €9.50 and take a bit of reading to get a feel for what they actually might be. They sound complicated, like a coffee and vanilla panacotta with a rhubarb compote, lemon sorbet and cracker filo brick. Just to put things to the test, we share the white chocolate truffle “sushi style” which unfortunately turns out to be every bit as suspect as it sounds. Three self-conscious cylinders of white truffle - the texture of plasticy cheese - are rolled in chopped pistachio, a smear of citrus yoghurt dressing is completely out of place but luckily a delicious mango sorbet saves the day. After a €4 double espresso and a few valiant attempts to get the bill, we finally leave, €188.50 plus a tip poorer and a nagging sense of mild disappointment. A few days later, I give the Saddle Room a second chance, this time for lunch at the oyster bar. Nobody drops in to gorge themselves on oysters and in reality, the bar is just a focal point, a more casual place to sit, and most of the plates that are being served are of cooked prawns. But it’s pleasant all the same, and my friend experiences the same excited sense of anticipation as I had. This soon deflates as a seriously over-cooked steak with insubstantial charring does a reprise (on the cold griddle in wood). They graciously cook another one but no-one remembers to offer an accompanying sauce. The chips, however, are crispy this time around and they’re not over salted. The burger is a massive disappointment. It has a well-aged flavour, but no fat to lubricate and loosen the texture, so it’s dense and dry. The home-made bap is good but way too big for the burger, the garnishes are woeful and it’s just depressing. There seem to be quite a few things lacking at the Saddle Room, but the glaring one has to be the grill. The key to a good grill room is… a good grill and it seems that the one at the Shelbourne isn’t hot enough. This could be a bedding–down problem, but it’s also a very fundamental one and I would expect an American chef who I’m sure has eaten in some of the famous American steakhouses like Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris to know better. So, a missed opportunity for the Shelbourne. In the absence of a Wolsey-type menu (when will someone start serving soufflés?), I had at least expected a great grill. But instead, all it does is uphold its tradition for mediocre food. In summary, the prices are what you’d expect from a luxury hotel, the food is what you’d expect from a hotel restaurant, and on the upside, every meal I’ve had since looks like a positive bargain in comparison.
  24. We had a really enjoyable meal in Alexis just over a week ago. Actually, it was especially good because we were with the gastronomes (Simon_S and Hannabanana), who seem to be gastro royalty around town, so we helped them through their comped bottle of champagne... what a lovely start! The room is much nicer than I expected, it’s buzzy and breezy, tables are well spaced apart and the bar area used for dispensing drinks and coffee is a nice focal point. The gnocchi starter was lovely, not gluey and with a nice cheesy sauce; the potted prawns and crab was extremely good, really simple and fresh tasting, this should be a signature dish. I had a simple main course of roast quail salad and Steve really enjoyed the lamb’s liver with mash. Steak here is particularly good value btw, I stole a bit of Hazel’s which had a great flavour and was cooked perfectly. So, an excellent neighbourhood spot with prices (about €50 a head) and quality that would shame similar establishments.
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