KILKENNY TOP TIP­PLE WATER­FORD

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS | EATING OUT - John’s Bridge, Kilkenny, 056 – Rachel Collins ’Allo ’Allo- oh là là In­croy­able.

WHITE­FRIAR GRILL

16 Aungier Street, Dublin 2, 01 475 9003, white­fri­ar­grill.ie ¤¤ For many, this is the top brunch venue in town – and we have to ad­mit the huevos rancheros (fried eggs, chorizo, black eyed beans, salsa and gua­camole on tor­tillas, ¤10.95) and tomato fon­due (sour­dough toast with tomato “fon­due”, av­o­cado, asparagus, chilli jam and poached eggs, ¤11.95) make it hard to ar­gue.

Now they’re eye­ing the grow­ing mar­ket for meatheavy meals, with “White­friar Grill Cuts”. The new range of dishes (meats are from lo­cal butch­ers McLough­lans and Hicks) are paired with wine and Ir­ish craft beers and in­clude an 8oz eye of rump steak, with BBQ ribs and chips (¤23.50), paired with Kin­sale Black IPA. If you’re push­ing the boat out, an 8oz fil­let steak with bone­mar­row crust, spinach, mush­room tarte tatin and a pep­per sauce (¤32.50) paired with Ri­passo Valpo­li­cella Ber­tani. Our eye is on the 30-day dry aged 10oz New York striploin, with gar­licky prawns and chips, ¤26.50. Pre­pare for the meat sweats . . .

LEMON­GRASS HOT BUT­TERED WHISKEY

This week’s Top Tip­ple is a may look like an in­no­cent cup of cof­fee, but it’s a true win­ter warmer – cre­ated by Sean Gargano of the Woollen Mills (42 Or­mond Quay Lower, Dublin 1, the­wool­len­mills.com)

This drink is Sean’s take on hot but­tered rum and has been de­scribed as “melted, liq­uid Christ­mas pud­ding”. If you’re mak­ing at home, you’ll have to tin­ker with the quan­ti­ties of spices un­til it’s to your lik­ing. Sean pulled a 771 5333, lemon­grass.ie ¤¤ One of four restau­rants of the same name across the east of the coun­try, this place man­ages to avoid the soul­less feel­ing of­ten as­so­ci­ated with chains. Serv­ing a hodge-podge of south­east Asian fare, with some Chi­nese sta­ples thrown in, it has a de­cently priced early bird and rather bizarrely, a spe­cial Tues­day-night menu. Colonel Saun­ders and is keep­ing his ex­act blend a se­cret, but you can recre­ate us­ing this method 100g un­salted but­ter 150g light brown sugar 15ml tblsp maple syrup Pinch of nut­meg From the a la carte menu, the duck pan­cakes (¤8.95) stand out, with lots of crispy duck, cu­cum­ber, car­rot, spring onion and hoi sin and, un­usu­ally for Ire­land, more duck than pan­cakes – a rare oc­cur­rence. Bar­be­qued baby back ribs (¤7.75) were tasty, but tough, and the mus­tard and mango sauce is a tad cloy­ing. Mains are not cheap, but are stronger Pinch of cin­na­mon Small pinch of all spice Small pinch of ground cloves 40ml Ir­ish whiskey Boil­ing wa­ter Just as if you were mak­ing cook­ies, cream the un­salted but­ter with the sugar, maple than starters, with spicy Bangkok prawns in a hot and sour sauce (¤20.60), a good take on the In­done­sian fried rice dish Nasi Goreng (¤17.10) and a crispy whole but­ter­flied sea bass with a mild Thai panang curry sauce (¤20.90). Ser­vice is ex­cel­lent – the heat­ing packed it in on the chilly night we ate there and the staff man­aged to keep a syrup, nut­meg, cin­na­mon, all­spice and ground cloves.

You can chill the but­ter at this point and it will keep for ages in the fridge.

Add a heaped dessert­spoon of room-tem­per­a­ture spiced but­ter to a warmed mug with 40ml Ir­ish whiskey. Sean uses Green Spot as it’s his favourite but Jame­son or Pow­ers work per­fectly too. Top up with boil­ing wa­ter and stir un­til but­ter dis­solves and a foam ap­pears on top like a good cof­fee.

If you want more “bite”, good bour­bon works well. Also, you can go old-school and use the tra­di­tional rum. How­ever, this is Christ­mas in Dublin so Sean is us­ing the home-grown mel­low stuff. restau­rant full of freez­ing cus­tomers happy – no mean feat.

L’At­mos­phere

19 Hen­ri­etta Street, Water­ford, 051-858426, restau­rant-lat­mo­sphere.com A pleas­ant bistro on a small laneway in the heart of Water­ford city, L’At­mos­phere does French clas­sics in a slightly slap­dash man­ner, with a dash of style ser­vice thrown in. It of­fers mul­ti­ple menus (a la carte, veg­e­tar­ian, a ¤29 menu and a ¤20 early bird menu, all writ­ten in a charm­ing mish­mash of Franglais).

The ¤20 menu is ex­cel­lent value: three cour­ses plus a glass of de­cent house wine be­fore 6.45pm. Hard to beat that, even if much of the items on the menu had “just fin­ished”.

A coun­try ter­rine starter, with pickle, toast and onion mar­malade was creamy and rich – even bet­ter when smeared on some gen­er­ous serv­ings of car­away seed bread that kept ar­riv­ing at the ta­ble. An in­ter­est­ing spe­cial of poached egg on a bed of red cab­bage and cream sauce was also very good. Duck con­fit was dark and sticky and lux­u­ri­ous, though the ac­com­pa­ny­ing veg was lack­lus­tre; an enor­mous cast iron pot of beef bour­guignon was earthy and a per­fect win­ter warmer of a dish, loaded with vegetables and a rather wa­tery but tasty sauce. They did good ser­vice to the crème brûlée (a French restau­rant re­ally must) but – – serv­ing in­stant cof­fee from a sa­chet?

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