Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Tried & tasted : L'Ecrivain, Dublin

Anyone who knows anything about food in Ireland knows who Derry & Sally-Anne Clarke are, and even if you don't know food but read the irish magazines & social pages you will know them from their relationship trials and tribulations. They are the couple behind one of Dublin's most successful restaurants L'Ecrivain.
Then the crisis happened and L'ecrivan was one of the first restaurants with a lunchtime menu for €25 - imagine that eating in a michelin starred restaurant for €25, the price of a main course in main mediocre restaurants in Ireland during the last few years.

Very often when I come home for a long weekend I take the first flight out from Beauvais which gets me into Dublin for around 10H15 giving me plenty of time to make it into town for an early lunch with my mam. I love to have lunch with my mam because like me she really appreciates good food and nice restaurants and treating her is a nice way to thank her for being a great mam. Last weekend was no exception and lured by the €25 euro menu I reserved for two at l'ecrivan.
I am sure that this is how it starts for many of their new diners, the lure of the €25 menu at one of Dublin's leading restaurants gets you knocking at their door. You arrive, the staff are welcoming and put you at ease, you know before you sit at your table in the relaxed but sophisticated surroundings that the service will be excellent and that your lunch will be good. Then they hand you the menu, you see the €25 menu on the lefthand side but you just can't help your eyes wandering to the righthand side to the a la carte menu.
There are two things that I know my mam loves, one is scallops and the other is turbot, both of these were on the a la carte menu. I used this an excuse to abandon plan A and to suggest we both order a la carte, so mam would not have to feel guilty about opting for the more expensive menu and afterall as I said to her, how many times do you think we are next going to book a table here?

But really it was for me, my tastedbuds wre tingling with sheer delight as I read down through the menu. While starter and main course options left me in a thizzy over what to choose the dessert options just did not do it for me, but then again I was never a sweet girl!

For starters I chose the sea bream with a spring vegtable nage, courgette and basil, quail egg (breaded) & white asparagus tips. This was summer in a dish. The fish portion was a reasonable size and perfectly cooked. The spring vegtable nage seemed to be a posh way to say bouillion but was gorgeous and really complemented the basil which came as a puree.
Mam had the scallops with cauliflower, pressed ham hock and black pudding - while the entire dish was good, it was the blackpudding which was really outstanding. It was wrapped in what resembled a miniture spring rolled and was propped on top of a scallop.

Being fond of Japanese food and flavors. I was pulled towards the wild sea trout which was served with arguga caviar & yuzu vinegarette served on spinach. One of favorite teas from Marriage Freres in Paris is Yuzu tea. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus style fruit with a distinctive taste. One of my colleagues brought me back some confit yuzu from her trip to Japan and I still searching for a recipe to use it in. As a dressing it worked well and lifted the flavour of the fish. Sea trout in France is not often on menus in Paris, well not that I have seen which is a real pity, it is a fish that has a lot to give.
My mam cooks sea trout a lot at home and as predicted went for the Turbot which cam served with a lobster gnocchi, fennel salad and parmesan, there were also some ecrivisse hidden around her plate.

The only detraction from the experience were the potatoes...yes they boiled new potatoes in butter, yes they were delicious, yes they melted in my mouth and complemented my main course so well BUT they were FRENCH!!

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