Best Irish Restaurant Reviews – The quality of Irish restaurants has improved so much that a bad meal now comes as a shock. I went to Wildflower about a month ago and I didn’t have a good experience – the food was bad, the service was annoying. Adrian Martin, chef-owner of Wildflower, found himself stranded at an airport. He asked me if I would come back for a second visit and try his tasting menu; My second visit was not anonymous.
I don’t see the point in writing in detail about my first visit to Wildflower for the €70 dinner. Instead, I focus on the tasting menu offered in the cellar room on Friday and Saturday nights, priced at €100.
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I first met Adrian five years ago when I interviewed him for his cookbook about healthy ‘fake-places’. At the age of 25, he had already worked with Neven Maguire for several years and worked in the Bon Appetit kitchen with Oliver Dunne when he had a Michelin star. He made a name for himself doing cooking shows and television work. A few years ago he opened Wildflower in a shipping container in London, focusing on weed and edibles. His timing was unfortunate, and he is now closed.
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Wildflowers in Dublin is located on the ground floor and basement of a Georgian house where Grace Gifford once lived, and has three separate dining rooms. There is no unity in decorum; The most fun room is the cellar where the tasting ‘experiences’ take place. The night I return, the room is packed with curious tourists and locals. Adrian presents each course, talks us through the stories behind the dishes and suppliers and the garden in Cavan where some of the produce is grown. In the first chapter, a brilliant young man who does not hit the ground running runs a smooth service.
The 17-course tasting menu falls a little short of our hearts, when it becomes clear that the €55 wine pairing should be made up mostly of Irish wines. Whether Ireland will become a serious wine producer in the future due to climate change remains to be seen, but for now, apart from the excellent Killahora apple ice wine, they are more of a curiosity than anything else.
During our meal, there was sparkling rosé, rondo, cabernet/merlot and perry from North County Dublin winemaker Luska, raspberry wine from Monaire in Kilmanton and apple wine from Highbank in Kilkenny.
The two non-Irish wines are the typical Pinot Grigio and the sweet red Recioto. There doesn’t seem to be a sommelier and there are some eccentric pairings.
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So what do we get for our €100? Delicious, sourdough potato bread from Mackenzietown with two butters: one crunchy and slightly cheesy, the other hearty and beautifully citrusy, and then the elite of Flaggy Shore, dressed with toasted koji butter and pasture, none of them with an aftertaste. Then a good Jerusalem artichoke broth and a quail egg rolled in cabbage ashes sitting on a piece of bacon jam – this one is quite dangerous, with its cold runny yolk and overpowering burnt taste. Small purple potato soufflé pomme with delicious Young Buck cheese, chicken skin with foie gras and crunchy and flavorful fermented blackberries.
Cep custard served with Hen of the Woods and Longford truffles is dessert-sweet and simply wrong, and two scallops hand-dipped with French caviar are beautifully cooked with bold flower and onion miso. A piece of wild sea bass wrapped in wild garlic is overcooked with fermented celic espuma, and squab pigeon with mushrooms is robust but unassuming, as the leg must be picked to get to the meat to achieve it.
An odd combination of artichoke ice cream with greenage, plum and burnt sage somehow works, but an elderberry souffle is firm and sweet, and dessert is a seaweed tart with rhubarb custard with Italian meringue and wood sorrel. too long A selection of petit fours includes a cherry pate de fruit that can be heard gasping around the room as people tuck into it.
Wildflower has a lot of competition in fine dining, and the offerings are unmatched by the city’s best restaurants. Sometimes it is aimed at the tourist market. I would have preferred a simplified offering with fewer courses, and without the Irish wine hype. Our bill was €200 for two, with a wine pairing for one (€55) not shown on the bill.RHA Market: This has to be the best tasting menu of Irish art cuisine and a great wine bar with reasonable prices on these wines.
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Does an art gallery have a wine bar? Yes, I was a little skeptical. The color-by-numbers version is definitely panini and cheap coffee by day, and vino and questionable charcuterie by night. My experience with display openings is that the wine may not have been chilled properly. But the people behind the marquee at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Ely Place are more discreet. With a growing portfolio that includes Granny’s and early Margad from Binnadair, Jess D’Arcy and Killian Durkin have a foundation.
The double-glazed room offers a contemporary gallery on one side and a row of handsome Georgian houses on the other. White shelves hold stunning rows of wine bottles, breaking neutral ground with Mondrian-like precision. Wooden tables have a similar minimalist aesthetic, dotted with flowers, and we find a high top that’s big for two but solid for four.
Food here takes the small plates and menu approach. At a reasonable €42 for an eight-course tasting menu, there is no evidence of price gouging creeping into the hospitality industry. The liberal concept of choice entertains with an a-la-carte menu with nibbles starting at €3, and a significant number of wines in the often empty quarter in the €30-€40 price bracket.
Willing to share and curious to see what kind of evening will happen when you take a very small line through the menu, we go the a-la-carte route, starting with smoked almonds (€4.50), because they feel like the perfect choice. Accompanied by a glass of Callejuela Manzanilla (€8). Carling oysters with wakame (€3) are fresh and restrained, a taste of the ocean with just the tiniest hint of acidity with bonito vinegar.
Wildflower Restaurant In Dublin Review: ‘this Irish Focused 17 Course Tasting Menu Is No Match For The City’s Best Restaurants’
There’s a kind of alchemy when Cantabrian anchovies (€4.80) are paired with sherry, and it’s no surprise that Pujadó Solano, the maestro who used his canning skills to great effect on these wonderful specimens, is name-checking on the menu. I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted so much in every dish of one ingredient, and Firehouse Bakery’s finger of sour cream with a drizzle of preserved lemon aioli adds a lovely crunch.
Grilled baby leeks and large chips are starting to appear on menus in Ireland, as you’ll see sweet onion-like chalcedes in Spain’s Catalonia, which have protected geographical status under the EU’s PGI system and are celebrated as a delicacy. The herbed baby leeks (€13) on the plate before me is a glorious end to summer celebration, with a perfect crunch of smoked eel and granny smith apples, a pudding of fennel puree to soak up. The same goes for burrata with young broad beans and sweet peas (€14) under a stream of summer truffles and roasted hazelnuts. These are the dishes you find in Italy, and every restaurant’s menu reads the same regional, seasonal ingredients, but still tastes a little different.
We drink well from a glass list of four whites and four reds (at least 150ml); and El Castro De Valtuille Mencia Joven 2020 (€7) from Raúl Pérez, one of Spain’s most visionary winemakers, and Doravante Bairrada 2017 (€9). James Brook, the sommelier who manages the wine list here, tells me that due to space constraints in the restaurant, most of their wines are housed in the gallery’s storage area alongside the art. Fortunately, the environmental conditions for fine art storage are perfect for wine.
RHA Market is a truly spectacular wine bar, where the cuisine, using seasonally driven produce, is precise and delicious.
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We finish our delicious courses with Mexican-influenced, charred, rare and deliciously juicy, flat iron steak tacos (€15) with chimichurri, pickled chillies, nigella seeds and crispy bacon biscuits. For dessert, we share a large slice of rich tiramisu (€7) without being heavy.
RHA Market is a truly spectacular wine bar, where the cuisine, using seasonally driven produce, is precise and delicious. It helps that many of the carefully selected wines on the list are affordable. Flexibility to drop
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