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The good reviews, the bad reviews... and the potatoes


Cork native Ross Lewis. Photo: Ray Cullen

Cork native Ross Lewis. Photo: Ray Cullen

Cork native Ross Lewis. Photo: Ray Cullen

It's the doyenne of Irish restaurants, and Chapter One, run by Ross Lewison Dublin's Parnell Square, has been the recipient of many top-notch reviews. AA Gill praised "a really accomplished kitchen that's keeping a lot of competing ingredients and methods under tight control" while the 'Financial Times' critic Bill Knott described it as "not just one of the finest restaurants in Dublin, it is one of the finest restaurants in any city".

After an unfavourable newspaper review, which they described as a "hatchet job", the owners of Goodfellas restaurant in Kennedy Way in Belfast sued the 'Irish News' and were awarded damages. The decision was subsequently overturned on appeal. The London 'Times' then dispatched top food critic Giles Coren to investigate. Coren was unimpressed by the food but was even more unimpressed by his fellow diners. "Almost everyone is fat," he wrote grimly. "The men have big square heads and little pink faces, short spiky hair, stud earrings and big appetites. It's like Westlife got old and fat overnight."

When 'New York Times' columnist Frank Bruni took a road-trip round Ireland to investigate his Celtic roots, he was bowled over by the beauty of the countryside but baffled by the amount of potatoes on offer. Pubs offered 'specials' of lasagna and chips, he noted, bemused.

At The Winding Stair, overlooking Dublin's Ha'Penny Bridge, an otherwise "splendid" meal contained mashed potatoes, potato puree and roasted potatoes - all in the one dish. "The kind word for this would be redundancy," he wrote. "The accurate one would be overkill."

Irish Independent