A promis­ing Feast on Golden Lane

A move to the city cen­tre from Dún Laoghaire might make this a keeper

The Irish Times Magazine - - FOOD - CATHER­INE CLEARY

The friend has a “so what are we do­ing here” arch to her eye­brow when I sit down in Feast in Dubl i n’s Golden Lane. When I sent the text she had a quick look at the menu on­line and is “just not sure”. Then there’s the place. Sat next to a Radis­son ho­tel in the ground floor of an apart­ment block, the room has had mul­ti­ple per­son­al­i­ties. Slabs of Ar­gen­tinian beef sent out meaty wafts when it was a steak­house. Then it was a Thai place. The one con­stant dur­ing its dif­fer­ent in­car­na­tions was that it had the per­son­al­ity of a generic ho­tel restau­rant, even though it wasn’t in a ho­tel. For years it has been the door I passed on the way to some­where else. Now it is Feast.

That’s enough rea­son to cross the thresh­old and hope­fully enough to break the jinx of a restau­rant lo­ca­tion that never seemed to catch on. Feast was set up by friends in Dún Laoghaire in 2016. It was a lively and am­bi­tious ad­di­tion to the food scene in the heart­land of that well- heeled but vaguely dis­mal part of south Dublin.

They closed the doors in the sum­mer. I got the news by dis­ap­pointed text from a friend who loved it. But they haven’t gone away. In­stead they’ve come to the city cen­tre in search of diners. Feast 2.0 is big­ger, a high- ceilinged mod­ern room with acres of glass swathed in filmy cur­tains. They’ve painted it bat­tle­ship grey to take the stark­ness off it and added lots of warm wood and com­fort­able vel­vet chairs.

It doesn’t have the cosy neigh­bour­hood feel of old Feast, and the menu has a lot of words. Front of house, Sergey Let­sko tells us that some Cana­dian cus­tomers sim­ply didn’t un­der­stand the food. It’s been a point of dis­cus­sion be­tween him and head chef Las­zlo Ka­mondi, who has worked in the kitchens Restau­rant Patrick Guil­baud and Dax, ac­cord­ing to their press re­lease. Ka­mondi is joined in Feast’s new kitchen by sous chef Lisa Turner. My friend is with the Cana­di­ans. She’s ques­tion­ing the point of team­ing chorizo- roasted car­rots with a car­rot sauce. Is it just try­ing too hard, like the wed­ding guest who goes a fas­ci­na­tor too far and makes a bags of it?

The bread makes it all bet­ter. It’s good bread but more im­por­tantly it’s served with al­mogrote an or­ange pud­dle of dip, a tra­di­tional Ca­nary Is­lands paste made with pep­pers, olive oil, pa­prika and manchego cheese. In­stead of the salty sheep’s cheese there they make it here with parme­san and it’s lick the plate de­li­cious. There’s an ex­cel­lent black olive tape­nade be­side it made with good pur­ply juicy olives not the leath­ery sad ones dyed liquorice black.

The car­rots with car­rot sauce are good too but it’s the scal­lops sit­ting on top of them that get us on track. They’re ex­pertly cooked, plump, juicy and the per­fect mix of sweet­ness and sea flavour. It’s a beau­ti­ful plate. My corn broth is served in a stone- coloured bowl and plate, smooth in­side with a gritty as fine- grade sand­pa­per glaze on the out­side. The shal­low bowl has a slab of smoked eel in the cen­tre drowned in a de­light­ful broth, juicy sweet­corn ker­nels that have been charred be­fore be- ing added to the party. It’s gor­geous but for chunks of “corn sponge” which are Mr Ki­pling sweet and shouldn’t be shar­ing a postal code with this broth, much less a bowl. They’re solid enough to be sep­a­rated from the rest of the dish and de­com­mis­sioned as an in­gre­di­ent but they should never have been there in the first place.

Aubergine ash brings the cross­ness back mo­men­tar­ily. “Now what’s the point?” It’s the fi­nal flour­ish on a lamb shoul­der main. But the meat is “stun­ning” enough to con­vince her “chef knows what he’s do­ing” aubergine ash or no aubergine ash. The lamb has been slow cooked to a barely solid thready soft­ness with lay­ers of flavour deep­en­ing down into al­most mut­ton. There are potato cubes diced and then crisped with cubes of Re­blo­chon, the French cheese which comes with the best back story. Its name is from the French verb re­blocher mean­ing to pinch a cow’s ud­der again. It was orig­i­nally made with thicker milk from a sec­ond milk­ing af­ter the tax in­spec­tor fin­ished mea­sur­ing the amount of milk taken in the first milk­ing.

I have two juicy wedges of duck breast with parsnips, roasted in duck fat and served on a creamy parsnip puree. It’s ex­cel­lent, and as part of a ¤ 34 three- course deal (¤ 28 plus ¤ 6 ex­tra for the duck), good value in this part of town.

We share a baked- car­rot cheese cake, which tastes like car­rot cake mix­ture in cheese cake form, not in a bad way but pos­si­bly erring on the too many things go­ing on side of the plate. It comes with an ex­cel­lent fruity cof­fee topped with a creamy crema from Dublin roast­ers, Two Spots.

Try­ing too hard is def­i­nitely the bet­ter an­gle than not try­ing hard enough, which sums up the main of­fer­ing at this price in th­ese parts. I have a hope­ful feel­ing about Feast. Once they fig­ure out the tone and let the cook­ing shine the three- course deal will be en­joy­able eat­ing with­out the eye wa­ter­ing bill.

Din­ner for two with three glasses of wine, two sides, shared dessert and cof­fee came to ¤ 109.20

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