Restaurant Review

Restaurant Review: FXB Crow St, Dublin

Now I like fine food,  just as I like fine wine, but sometimes I just want something a bit more straightforward, basic… gourmand rather than gourmet. And being a carnivorous male of the species that means a big eff-off steak!  Vegetarians should look away now…

Francis Xavier Buckley opened a butcher’s in Dublin in 1930, and the group still maintains FX Buckley butchers along with five steakhouses and pubs.  They pride themselves on the quality of their meat which they source directly and dry-age wherever possible.  For my birthday we chose to visit their Steakhouse on Crow Street in Temple Bar in the heart of Dublin.

We were shown to our table shortly after arrival; but the cramped layout of the place was such that several other diners had to brush past the back of both our chairs to and from their table – quite irritating to be honest!

As the menus are available to browse online I already had a good idea what my food order was going to be, so I glanced at the specials board and checked out the wine list.  The Amaretto Sour cocktail caught my eye as I love almond and amaretto flavours – and it was delicious.

However, when we gave our food orders the waiter almost walked away without asking what wine or other drinks we would like with our meal – what sort of place is this?  The wine by the glass selection was fairly limited, but at least it appeared appropriate to the food being served.  My wife Jess chose Argentinian Malbec (we have both converted from anti- to pro-Malbec!) and I selected a slightly more modest Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.

The starters:

As an admitted carnivore I chose Baby Back Pork Ribs, done in a sweet barbecue sauce.  Thankfully the sweetness of the Amaretto Sour could handle the sauce as my red wine tasted quite bitter with the ribs.

Jess chose Castlintownbere  Mussels – despite having some sort of fish and seafood allergy she seems able to tolerate mussels (and when I say “tolerate” I mean “devour with relish”).

The mains:

So what does a steak fan order on his birthday?  A 22oz Bone-in Rib-Eye, that’s what!

22oz

It was amazingly tender and succulent, even better than I’d hoped!  And finally the Chilean Cabernet came into its own, a good match for a perfectly medium-rare steak.

My wife is not as greedy as me so she ordered the 10oz 28 day Dry-aged Rib eye, and again it was juicy and flavoursome.  She did the taste test against mine (which had the bone in) and narrowly preferred it, but both were excellent.  The Malbec was still going well, as you’d expect of a big red wine made in a beef-producing country like Argentina.

Desserts:

After a suitable pause we moved onto the sweet stuff.  There didn’t appear to be any dessert wine so I finished my red wine and just drank water with the Double Chocolate Tart.  This was fairly, but not overly, sweet and mainly dark chocolate – I find milk chocolate too sickly and don’t even ask me about white “chocolate”.

Jess chose her perennial favourite – Créme Brûlée.  This was a success and had a satisfyingly crunchy sugar layer on top.

Once our spoons were down we paid the bill and left – it didn’t seem a venue to linger over coffee.

Verdict:

Great steaks but poor layout and lacking in atmosphere.  Not ideal if you are a wine lover.

Food      7/10

Wine     5/10

Service  6/10

http://crow-st.fxbuckley.ie/

Restaurant Review

Restaurant Review: Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill, Dublin

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.

The starters:

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 mains:

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 pointRibeye 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.

Desserts:

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 hersCréme 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!

Verdict:

Food      8/10

Wine     9/10

Service 9/10

http://www.marcopierrewhite.ie/Default.aspx