Where do chefs eat on their evening off? The recently reopened Etto has been the number one chef’s canteen for years, and now it looks like Restaurant Richmond is getting love. When I visit there are at least five chefs, including Stephen Gibson from Pichet and Graeme Dodrill from Peploe’s, who participate in the tasting menu on the first Tuesday.
I have a late reservation, very late for a Tuesday, and as I arrive conscientiously at 8:15 pm, I am shown upstairs. “Oh, we’re going to Siberia,” I think, as I glance around the busy room downstairs and spot another restaurant reviewer. But actually, I think I prefer it upstairs. It’s intimate and cozy, with only six tables.
While a tasting menu (€ 48) might seem like a strange thing to do on a Tuesday, it’s a neat idea. Part test kitchen to try new ideas and part watch me good value to encourage prople to eat out on one of the quietest nights of the week, it was working once a week before the lockdown and now operates on a monthly basis. On the board, three wines are offered at reduced prices. Geil Pinot Noir (€ 36 reduced from € 41) gets our vote, being a compliant grape that goes well with a variety of dishes. The wine list itself is short but well formed, with good offerings by the glass.
There are five courses, but there is nothing complicated about the way they are delivered. Nice little slices of fennel bread have a pasty, almost brioche-like texture, so of course the added boldness of whipped butter is just right. And then three snacks: an oyster from Galway Bay, its salty and iodized meat seasoned with a Bloody Mary mousse and an additional touch of sea with lumpfish roe on top; a gougère is filled with an intense cheese cream; and a chic chicken wing is stuffed with summer truffle, glazed and grilled until dark brown and the bone ends are crisp enough to eat. A good start.
The next class is an absolute stunner. A modestly named celeriac and mushroom pie shows serious skill and remains just the bright side of the chef’s fervor. The light puff pastry has intensely savory flavors – earthy celeriac and rich chanterelles, with a porcini cream to dip it in and pieces of crisp kale feathers to add texture and a ferrous note. It may be my dish of the year.
The fish dish is impressive, especially for the number of ingredients that should go well together. At the top is a lobster raviolo, the thin and silky pasta, the lobster in small defined pieces rather than a mousse. A lobster bisque ties the layers together – a piece of cod, the skin removed and the fish perfectly grilled, a crispy shrimp tempura, a few mussels out of their shells, kernels of sweet corn, peppers and capers and bright green splinters of dill oil. It is a balancing act that is doing admirably.
The meat dish can often be the stumbling block for a tasting menu, but the pan-seared rump of lamb, a shimmering pink and deep flavor, leads the charge, accompanied by a shoulder of lamb. slow cooked truffle glaze, the sweetness of the glaze lifting up what could be heavy flavors. A sweetbread may have been a bit too long on the pan, so it’s firmer than I would like, and to finish off this substantial dish, two hand-rolled gnocchi and some fresh peas tossed in the pesto to Mint.
There is no thug with chocolate fondant, in fact it is the most polished example I have ever come across. About a third the size of usual monsters, its membrane is light and brittle, releasing a drizzle of warm, velvety chocolate into the orange mousse and matcha tea ice cream.
A word of warning. I go through a menu that is offered once a month and that is not repeated. So no, you will not eat the same dishes. While I cannot guarantee the standard daily menu, I can say for sure that you will be spoiled for choice if you reserve a table for the monthly first Tuesday tasting menu here. I may have found my favorite low-key restaurant in Dublin. Well, no matter the other days, for Tuesdays definitely.
Dinner for two with a bottle of wine was € 132.
Verdict: exceptional value for a beautifully designed tasting menu
Installations: Smart, compact
Food source: Unlisted but all Irish – meat from JJ Young, fish from Kish, fruit and veg from Caterway
Music: Subtle, blues, Elvis Costello, Madness, good soundtrack
Vegetarian options: Tasting menu vegetarian options available
Wheelchair access: Accessible, but no accessible toilets