It’s Suesey when you know how... and my old pal Healy is still siz­zling

Irish Daily Mail - - Food and Wine - Tom Door­ley

THERE was a time when peo­ple some­what frowned upon restau­rants in base­ments, con­sid­er­ing them dark, poky, per­haps a lit­tle louche, maybe even down­right dodgy.

How times have changed. The stel­lar and su­perbly civilised Chap­ter One is in a base­ment on Par­nell Square. The glo­ri­ously re­viv­i­fied Dax (now with added Gra­ham Neville, late of The Res­i­dence) lies be­low street level on Pem­broke Street. And, of course, Suesey Street, an am­bi­tious es­tab­lish­ment, oc­cu­pies a lo­ca­tion a lit­tle fur­ther away from Stephen’s Green on Fitzwilliam Place, an area in which con­sul­tant doc­tors used to see their pri­vate pa­tients, ply­ing them with dog-eared copies of Coun­try Life and Yacht­ing To­day in high-ceilinged, draughty wait­ing rooms.

The doc­tors have all moved to places like Black­rock and Lu­can and their rooms are now oc­cu­pied by ac­coun­tants, solic­i­tors and var­i­ous other men – mainly men – in suits. It’s these cus­tomers who ex­plain the lunchtime menu at Suesey Street which clev­erly de­liv­ers just the right stuff to those who want to be in and out in 20 min­utes (my ad­vice would be to take a lunch box, but there you are), while also cater­ing for those who be­lieve that there’s an art to eating in the mid­dle of the day and that it can­not be rushed.

Suesey Street seemed a bit con­tra­dic­tory when it opened first. The name sug­gested a night­club while the crisp linen ta­ble cloths and sparkling stemware promised some­thing re­ally rather clas­si­cal with a bit of Gal­lic style thrown. The food was ex­cep­tional.

In the mean­time, it has had its ups and downs but with the ad­vent of John Healy, he of the The Res­tau­rant fame, Ire­land’s best-known maitre d’, that has changed. The lunchtime menu be­came more flex­i­ble, the crisp linen went (it costs a mint to main­tain) and, best of all, in came a new chef, Richard Stearn, late of Dax.

John is a mas­ter of calm lead­er­ship, as any­one will know who saw him cop­ing with the lu­di­crous de­mands of Jackie Lavin on The Res­tau­rant.

When she com­plained that her prawns didn’t sound right on de­liv­ery to the cus­tomers he ar­rived at the crit­ics’ ta­ble and an­nounced ‘Siz­zle. Siz­zle.’ To our be­muse­ment. He had no need to add any sound ef­fects to the seafood at Suesey Street.

I’ll miss John now that I have de­cided to leave the show. As I ex­plained a few weeks ago in the Ir­ish Mail on Sun­day, it has changed too much and the sen­si­ble thing to do is to stand back and let it com­plete its trans­for­ma­tion into the Marco Pierre White Show.

Any­way, on to what Suesey Street is like now, un­der the Healy ba­ton and with a fine new chef in the kitchen.

A fine lit­tle starter, for both of us, of two plump scal­lops was per­fect. The scal­lops are caramelised on the out­side and just cooked within. Their deeply flavoured, nicely acidu­lated jus with emer­ald green baby broad beans of­fer the right kind of foil.

We de­cide to keep it sim­ple and go for mains both from the lob­ster menu which prom­ises and, in­deed de­liv­ers, deca­dence com­bined with very good pasta.

Linguine has been cooked al dente and com­bined with nuggets of lob­ster meat, the whole thing pulled to­gether by a tomato el­e­ment that bal­ances both the sweet­ness and the rich­ness of the crus­tacean.

My own main is more elab­o­rate, com­bin­ing even more gen­er­ous quan­ti­ties of lob­ster meat and crab meat wrapped in silky sheets of pasta to cre­ate, in ef­fect, a big, open ravi­oli. The uni­fy­ing el­e­ment here is a deeply flavoured and deeply ter­ra­cotta coloured sauce made, no doubt, from an aw­ful lot of shells.

We fin­ished with a se­lec­tion of cheese, all in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion, and a glass of Rioja af­ter our South African Chardon­nay that had served as a fine ac­com­pa­ni­ment to the mains. With cof­fees, our bill came to just over €180.

Suesey Street is not cheap. It can’t be, be­cause they do things prop­erly. And we had ex­plored the more lux­u­ri­ous end of the menu which proved, frankly, pleas­antly worth­while.

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