Tag Archives: Average

Nigella, Dorian and Me

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

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Disappointment in Clodagh’s Kitchen

I am not an avid clothes shopper; I avoid it as much as I can, buying online or bulk buying in one or two expensive trips a year. However, recently, necessity called; An important, week-long meeting in Chicago and I with not a stitch to wear.

This meeting is the reason there will be no blog post next week; but despair not, for the weekend after, there will be a special Consumation does Chicago post. I’ve spent longer planning the food hotspots I’ll hit than I have preparing for the meeting, I’m very excited about the pounds I am going to put on, and I look forward to walking you through every delicious morsel.

I digress from the point of this blog post; Clodagh’s Kitchen, the oasis of calm that called to us after four long hours of Saturday morning shopping in Dublin city centre, the day of the Notre Dame/Navy American football game. In retrospect, with the usual 20/20 vision, not the most sensible of ideas.

Laden like pack mules, the last quotient of energy sapped, we arrived at Arnotts to Clodagh McKenna’s venture, a café focused on homemade, locally produced food. More than a little excited to be off the packed streets, I selected the Italian summer salad, with the pate to accompany, as my brother opted for pesto, chicken and sun-blush tomato tagliatelle, and my mother the lamb kofta. Many dishes are marked as gluten free on the menu, but approach with care, as the size of the open kitchen didn’t inspire me with confidence that ingredients could be kept completely segregated.

The place had an odd look to it, as if we were sitting in someone’s front room, but I’m presuming that’s the point. Unfortunately, this homeliness did not extend to the bathrooms – these, a trek downstairs and back through the shop, were dank, dirty and dark, an underground train station feel to them. Arnotts really need to put some effort into renovating these; literally any effort at all would be appreciated.

When I returned, lunch had arrived. The advertised “goat’s cheese toasts” on my salad were two tiny pieces of bread, with a measly scrape of cheese – absolutely pointless – but the rest of the salad was relatively nice; fresh, crisp rocket with a generous serving of parmesan, prosciutto, and pine nuts, with a bright citrus dressing.

The pate, topped with peppercorns, was fantastic – velvet smooth and rich, the sharp apple chutney a delight by itself. Par for course, the amount of bread served was inadequate for the slab of pate, but this was resolved when I asked for more, and was absolutely overwhelmed with the three additional pieces I received. The lamb koftas, although nice, looked like a starter – only five mini meatballs, the bulk of the meal being made up by soggy cumin roast potatoes, and a watery, flavourless tzatziki. A complete disappointment.

Thankfully, the brother fared better, in my opinion. Generally, I avoid pesto, having had too many experiences with the half rancid muck that is sometimes passed off in restaurants, but I couldn’t stop myself stealing strand after strand of the perfectly al dente tagliatelle, smothered in creamy sauce. I was extremely grateful for his dislike of sun blush tomatoes, and hoovered them up, but unfortunately wasn’t able to find a piece of the chicken to try, as so few had been supplied.

Tea for two, served in what appeared to be my grandmother’s best china, and a strong coffee to finish, with a fluffy lemon drizzle cake shared between three; nice, and most definitely lemony being the only words I can think to describe it.

Too long, didn’t read?

Expensive and trying too hard, the meal was unsatisfying, and left a painfully large hole in my (read: my mother’s) purse. The pate was almost, but not quite, justified in costing €7.50, and at the other end of the scale, €6 for the cake was in all respects, risible.

The only acceptable explanation would be that she’s raising money for a new toilet but, unfortunately, I’ve a feeling it’s being pumped back into vintage bone china.

1 starter, 3 mains, 1 dessert, 2 teas, 1 coffee €59
Clodagh’s Kitchen, Floor 2, Arnotts, 12 Henry Street, Dublin 1

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Luigi Malones, a recipe for mediocrity

The littlest of brothers arrived back from his French travels this week. I, wanting to hear all about life on the continent, insisted on dinner and, being the budget conscious individual that I am, decided to use some vouchers I had picked up for Luigi Malones.

Temple Bar central, it’s a popular tourist spot, and the menu seems to have a dish to suit almost everyone, ranging from pizza to jambalaya to fajitas and peri peri chicken – a head spinning trip around the world in a few short pages.

We plonked ourselves down, the seat next to the door, and chose chicken caesar salad with a pint of Fischer’s each. Currently one of my favourite beers, Luigi Malones is one of the only places in Dublin where it’s on tap, and to top it all off, it’s on the Happy “Hour” menu (applicable between 5 and 7) for only €3.90. This happy coincidence, unfortunately, is one of only two highlights of the meal.

The salads arrived, and I tucked in with ravenous glee; this joy quickly stymied by the realisation the lettuce was at best, two days old, and wilted. The chicken was unusual – I pondered the similarities as I chewed, and discussed these with my sibling – we settled on packing foam. It was an insipid white, with a rubbery, boiled-sponge texture. The salad was almost saved by the generous amounts of parmesan, the crunchy garlic croutons and the, very few, crispy bacon bits scattered throughout, but all in all, it was a failure.

To be fair, my last outing to Luigi Malones was quite pleasant, the “Awesome Hamburger” not quite living up to its name but a solid, extremely tasty and enjoyable effort nonetheless, let down by the accompaniment of a bland, soggy attempt at chips.

After such a disappointing main, we had to treat ourselves to the “Famous Toblerone Cheesecake,” a particular favourite of mine. We were first introduced about eight years ago; a friend informed me I was to arrange a day trip to Dublin immediately when she heard I’d never tried it.

Fresh faced, dressed in my Sunday best, I set off for the big city.

It was love at first taste, and has endured through the years. Despite the overly sweet, fake cream squirted onto the side of the plate, this cheesecake is delicious – creamy, chocolatey with a hint of butterscotch. Over the years, it has changed shape but not flavour, and for this I am grateful – A beacon of light on the otherwise grey, uninspired landscape of the Luigi’s menu.

Too long, didn’t read?

Overpriced, barely average food, served with a smile, I was left with the usual underwhelmed, unsatisfied feeling I associate with Luigi Malones. Certain parts of some dishes are great, but let down utterly by the other components. The quality is sometimes there, but menu and food just scream “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

Welcome home little brother.

2 mains, 1 dessert, 2 beers €40

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Yamamori, third time’s the charm

I’m a stubborn person, holding grudges well beyond their expiry date.

Ok Yorkie, point taken.

If you cross me or fail me, it takes a lot of time and effort to return to my good graces.

Yamamori had both crossed and failed me, in equally colossal measures. My first outing, bright eyed and hopeful, trying gyuniku yaki soba, was met with grisly, inedible beef, sloppy, over-cooked noodles swimming in a greasy, salty but otherwise flavourless sauce. The crisp, vivid green edamame in Wagamama had tempted me to try the same in Yamamori, but these were horribly undersalted, old, and rubbery.

A complaint to the management which was met with suitably shocked faces, but still requiring us to pay and not even offering a drink on the house, despite the mostly untouched food, riled me to the point of vowing never to return.

Slowly, news of the quality of the Ha’penny Bridge version of Yamamori began to sink in, piquing my curiosity yet again, so I headed along for some vegetable savoury rice. Good, but not great, missing some small element – peas, perhaps – and the combination of ingredients was completely incorrect – more tofu, sweetcorn, peppers and onion, less rice and cashew nuts and this could’ve been a great dish.

However, it was an improvement, a step up from inedible and when the next opportunity for Yamamori to prove me wrong presented itself, I knew the fates had decided for me.

A Thursday evening and due to it being soaking wet outside, we steamed gently at our table as we reviewed the menu. I was accompanied by a veteran who barely glanced before choosing yamamori yaki soba, and after much consideration and debate, I went with chicken ramen.

Two light, dry Asahi beers in front of us, my current Achilles’ heel, and the conversation inevitably turned to my previous experiences with Yamamori. I explained that this was simply the last attempt they were going to get at impressing me, or I would wash my hands of them forever.

The pressure was on, at least in my mind.

With that, our food arrived. Apprehensive, I picked up a some edamame. Still not as good as Wagamama, but a step up – perhaps middle aged, rather than elderly soy beans? Encouraged, I scooped a small piece of chicken into my mouth.

It was excellent; thigh meat chicken, flavourful and tender, in a perfectly seasoned broth. Slightly spicy and salty, a dash of sesame oil, with plenty of ramen noodles and crisp bean sprouts, complimented by the wasabi choi sum. Slopping noodles down my chin, and lowering choi sum into my open mouth, I cleared the bowl in an extremely attractive manner. I was never one for good table graces.

The dining companion agreed her dish was equally as good, despite the mounds of pickled ginger obscuring half of it. So good, she managed to make it stretch to two more meals, but that’s a different, more worryingly bacteria-filled, story.

Too long, didn’t read?

Yamamori is surprisingly good, but disappointingly, will never be fantastic. For the money charged here, there are much better noodle and sushi places to eat in Dublin. However, I will no longer avoid it like the plague, as I was perfectly content, and absolutely sated.

However, I hope they soon realise that unlike wine, cheese and I, edamame does not age well, and they should replenish their stock much more frequently.

1 starter, 2 mains, 2 beers – €48
Yamamori, 38/39 Ormonde Quay, Dublin

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