RESTAURANT REVIEW: Lucinda O'Sullivan on Brasserie Le Pont
They know what they're about in the basement Brasserie Le Pont, says Lucinda O'Sullivan, who finds a chef with a fine pedigree on a mission to provide Continental cuisine at reasonable prices
Brasserie Le Pont is a new restaurant owned by one Michael Kelly and is part of the Fitzwilliam Hall Business Centre.
Tucked away in the large basement of a Georgian house on Fitzwilliam Place, close to Leeson Street, its entrance belies its size, and it looks as though a lot of dosh has been spent converting it into a modern brasserie of the neutral-beige variety. L-shaped, with a long bar to the front, a couple of romantic private booths and an outdoor terrace, it opens from 8am for breakfast, through lunch, an afternoon grazing menu, and dinner from 5.30pm. The chef is James Doyle, who has spent time at the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, Rhodes D7 and the Village at Lyons -- a good pedigree -- and their mission statement is to provide modern French and European food at "very affordable prices".
We liked the menu. A la carte starters (€6.50/€12.95) included warm Fivemiletown goat's cheese tart with pickled beetroot, red chard and a hazelnut dressing, while a ham hock and foie gras terrine was served with pear chutney and toasted brioche. Seared king scallops were paired with a fennel puree and Clonakilty black pudding: classy combinations that augured well.
Additionally, they also had a very decent table d'hote 2- or 3-course dinner menu at €21.95/€25, proffering three starters and mains, two desserts or a cheese board, for which Kate opted. She kicked off with a lusty, well-flavoured French onion soup in a classic deep bowl, topped with Gruyere croutons. Baby Gem salad (€8.95) for me had delicate fluffs of Clogherhead crab, focaccia croutons, a Parmesan dressing, and crisp pancetta, and looked very pretty in a big Art Deco-style glass dish. I did ask for a little more dressing -- which was a tad bland. If truth be told, it probably could have done with a little more crab, too. I wanted to say, "Just shake it up a bit and give it a bit of balls," but, all in all, I enjoyed it.
Kate's mains options were an oyster steak -- the featherblade -- served with Portobello mushroom, watercress and tomato salad, and pommes frites; a risotto of pea, spring onion and asparagus, finished with mascarpone and pea shoots; or bouillabaisse. The latter was described as "a classic Provencal fish stew of market-fresh fish and shellfish and Kate was well pleased with a good bowl of decent chunky fish stew. There were no fish heads, nothing to frighten the horses, but it had what we expect in a contemporary city restaurant: refinement. It had a very nice flavour and decent whacks of salmon, white fish, a couple of prawns, a scallop, saffron potato pieces, courgette, and aioli. Normally €18.95 on the a la carte, it was good value on the table d'hote menu.
A la carte mains (€15.95/€28.95) sported roast duck breast with confit leg, pommes dauphinoise, sauteed spinach and beetroot jus, as well as fillet, rib-eye and oyster steaks. Cod featured with baby spinach, langoustine, champ and a bisque foam, while there was also a "luxurious" fish pie. I had roasted rump of lamb (€19.95), which was excellent. It came pink, as requested, well sliced, and mixed with ratatouille, sweetbreads, lamb jus, and a tranche of a very French potato terrine.
Warm Valrhona chocolate fondant, with pistachio ice cream, completed Kate's table d'hote. The fondant lacked salivating lusciousness and was a tad dry on the outside. A line up of four cheeses (€8.95) for me, on the other hand, was perfect -- my favourite Pont L'Eveque, Fivemiletown goat's cheese, Cashel Blue, and Milleens, with grapes and apricot chutney -- ace.
With a bottle of Gentil, Hugel et Fils 2009, Alsace (€27.75), discreetly dry and aromatic, our bill with optional service -- which was very pleasant from a young Australian girl -- came to €99.15. Somebody knows what they are about in the kitchen and it is a handy spot for all-day dining in D2.
Brasserie Le Pont,
25 Fitzwilliam Place,
Tel: (01) 669-4600
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