My wife Jess wanted a surprise meal for her birthday treat, somewhere we hadn’t been to before, so I thought we’d try the enfant terrible’s Dublin eatery on Dawson Street.
I mentioned that it was my wife’s birthday on the online booking form and was promised a good seat on the email reply. And so it was…after negotiating the narrow route through the other diners crammed in to the main room we were delighted to have a corner table so we were both able to take in the atmosphere without turning round. Included among the black and white framed celebrity photographs circling the restaurant was Jack Lukeman, a firm favourite of both of us.
I went for Cocktail of Fresh Dublin Bay Prawns, Rose Marie Sauce – quite a retro choice, served in a martini glass, and nice enough but not special. The wine recommended to match was Kim Crawford Spitfire Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – enough acidity to balance the prawns but enough exuberance to cope with the Rose-Marie sauce.
Jess chose Parfait Of Foie Gras en Gelée, au raisin sec – and this was possibly the standout dish of the whole meal. I selected a medium-sweet Jurançon to go with it as a change from the standard Sauternes (and Vendange Tardive Gewurztraminer can also be fantastic as we found out in Alsace last year).
The central part of the menu is the choice of one of three different steaks – 10oz ribeye, 10oz sirloin or 8oz fillet – with seven different garnishes. Every steak lover should find a favourite there! Our waitress – the fantastic Justine from Sydney – let us know that the cuisson is Irish not French, so I went for medium-rare rather than à point. Ribeye Au Poivre Noir, Raisin Sec, à l’Armagnac was my selection, and the recommended match was Cape Mentelle Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2011. Cabernet Merlot blends are a classic match for steak, particularly from the Médoc in Bordeaux, but the sweetness of the raisins needed something with more fruit from the new world – and it was a perfect combination. So good, in fact, that I had a second glass.
Still from the grill but as a change from steak, my wife chose Grilled Entrecôte of Veal, sauce béarnaise, hand cut chips. Both the waitress and I suggested the Kim Crawford Spitfire Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011 as its relative lightness would be better suited to veal.
After a pause we decided that we did have room for something sweet after all. Of course I had to choose my favourite – Sticky Toffee Pudding and Jess chose hers – Créme Brûlée. To accompany dessert I fancied a dessert wine. I asked how many “baskets” the Tokaji was rated at (the literal translation of the Hungarian “Puttonyos” which refers to the number of baskets of sweet, botrytised Azsu grapes tipped into the fermentation vessel). The waitress didn’t know as it wasn’t stated on the menu, but she brought over another member of staff who was actually from Hungary and so could explain about the wine. He even brought a taste over for me to try – result!