Today I am recovering from meeting one of my idols, the eternally youthful and tremendously talented Nigella Lawson. Despite my rehearsed plans to inform her what an inspiration she is and how much I adore her passion for food, I ended up babbling, calling her ‘amazing’ six times and asking her how her breakfast was – shame on me. Thankfully, she took pity and signed my book anyway, despite my social ineptitude.
Yes, she looks that enviously good in real life.
As much as I would like to continue my enthused ramblings, I must move onto the crux of this post.
Honestly, I feel at some point in the near past, they changed what “it” is, and now I don’t get “it”, and what’s “it” is disappointing and confusing. This is applicable to many areas of my life; music, movies, clothes. Sometimes it affects food, and this is a source of much worry and consternation.
My utterly charming dinner companions and I had vastly differing opinions on 101 Talbot, they both on the “This is it” side, and I firmly opposing. However, what if this was just another indication of the changing goalposts of “it”, and my inability to keep up?
This is the kind of thought that keeps me awake at night.
En route to The Picture of Dorian Gray, a powerful, claustrophobic, spine-chilling production, we three stopped into 101 Talbot. Having left ourselves a little short for time, the raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake went sadly untasted, but we managed a starter, main and half a coffee each. Also, on top of this, thick hunks of proper batch bread, chewy and tender, slathered in butter – I requested more for the table; It was addictive.
I hoped that my wild game terrine would be served with this bread toasted. Irritatingly, the brioche which instead accompanied disintegrated in my hand as I tried to pile on the meat; Hearty, heavy, rich with a metallic iron tang, moderated by diced sweet apricot. I would’ve paid handsomely to eat the entire terrine loaf, as long as the over-oiled, tasteless side salad and frail bread were replaced. The chilli and coriander hummus was nice, but nothing memorable.
Next up, the main courses, and our opinions deeply divided. The boys raved, both agreeing that the food was exceptional, and warning me against the mediocre review I was going to write. In good conscience, I cannot lie, but I will merely present the honest facts for your perusal.
My linguine was well cooked, with a slight bite, the crisp, streaky bacon pieces were an absolute joy and the halves of cherry tomatoes burst with sweet juice that cut through the bland sauce. I had to take it on faith that it was a white wine sauce, however, as the overpowering taste was cream. Oddly, the thin shards of parmesan were as non-descript as the sauce.
Next, unusually dry rabbit meat sucked every drop of saliva from my mouth, requiring a large gulp of water to fully swallow. It was plonked on top of a mussel and chorizo paella – an interesting choice – that was packed full of flavour, bright, fresh vegetables, and enough mussels to make it a struggle to finish.
Finally, perfectly cooked chicken with a wonderful scorched crunch, almost ruined by vastly over-salted skin, and an armagnac gravy so good, it almost brought me to tears – simple, but packing a full bodied, opulent punch. Slightly chewy potatoes, perhaps sitting in the oven a touch too long, with crisp goose fat edges, and piles of al-dente vegetables finished off the dish.
Take from this what you will – I won’t return, but my associates may have found their new favourite restaurant.
I’ve decided – Perhaps I’m not with “it”… I’m just way ahead of the curve.
3 starters, 3 mains, 2 wines, 1 beer, 3 coffee €82
101 Talbot, 100-102 Talbot Street, Dublin 1