Eating out: Lucinda O'Sullivan at Amuse on Dawson Street
Inventive Franco-Asian tasting menus are the order of the day at chef Conor Dempsey's chic new venture.
There is an insatiable appetite for new restaurants in Dublin at the moment. No sooner have I visited one, than up pops another spot to review. At the time of writing, the latest entrant to the fray is Amuse, which is located at the top of Dawson Street.
While Amuse may be new on the scene, the chef patron Conor Dempsey is not. He has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK and France and worked for seven years in Olivier Meisonnave's Dax Restaurant and at The Chop House.
What Dempsey has created in Amuse is a chic little 40-seater spot, bedecked - or stripped-back, as it may be - to satisfy the urban-chic desires of today's diners. Brick walls mix with oriental-hat-shaped shades; an open-door fridge holds wines; wooden hangers slip on to wooden wall slats; but, never fear, all the creature comforts are there by way of service and seating. The format is Tasting Menus - five courses (€55) or seven courses (€76) - contemporary Franco-Asian, high-end dishes being the theme. We made a midweek visit, when they also had a two/three-course Set Dinner at €29/€35, which is €24/€29 at lunchtime.
Passing on seven courses, I had the five-course menu while my dining companion, Paul, had the three-course, cleverly augmenting it with foie gras from the most expensive menu.
We were quickly amused, nay delighted, by Japanese- style amuse bouche canapes on a black lacquer tray. Pea puree was served topped with coconut mousse and a rose petal; maki nori wild halibut sushi, enhanced with wasabi, was topped with organic coral sea trout roe; an exotic black, crunchy, squid-ink rice cake was sprinkled with prawn powder; and a deep-fried black sesame-leaf tuille had smoked fish emulsion and lemon gel. I guess we were won over by that stage.
Paul's first course was roast quail satay with slivers of rich red plum on honey-coloured tamarind puree. All the elements of each dish revolved around the considered use of vibrant colours. My first course reminded me of colours in the Botanic Gardens's Palm House, with a palette of glossy greens, translucent beiges, creams and ambers, focussed around a trio of poached Carlingford oysters with black miso, apple and seaweed. Stunning. Next up for Paul was a coated ball of duck foie gras (€12 supplement) with black cherries and amaretto jelly dice, while I had organic salmon tartare, which involved rolled shavings of black-edged daikon, cucumber, red-edged radish and blobs of yuzu puree.
A snow-white chunk of halibut sang with joyous summer colours of pink, red, orange and purple nasturtiums, sitting in a Vietnamese consomme, while the dark, rich, roasted colours of rare Anjou pigeon came with quenelles of aubergine and plum puree on a translucent tamarind jus. Paul at this stage had a glistening Dexter beef short rib with hot, hot, hot kimchi cabbage and kohlrabi.
To finish, Roquefort cheese was not just cheese, but myriad colours, shapes and blobs of fruits and jellies, involving raspberries, beetroot and tea, all strewn carefully across the glass plate, with chunks of the sharp, delicious blue cheese. A dessert of strawberry, blackberry, jasmine and milk, had all the drama on a plate that these vibrant colours can bring when they are artfully worked, coupled with a milk-filled eggshell and more deliciousness in a glass globe.
Coffees (€10 for two) brought with it tooth-sticking petit fours of chocolate truffles and caramel, and they were the perfect over-indulgent finish to a spectacular evening.
Very importantly, the wine list is not intimidating - there are lots of wines available by the glass, and with a crisp lean Atalaya do Mar Godello 2013 DO Monterrei (€35) and mineral water (€4.95), our bill with optional service came to €166.95. This is the hottest little dining room in town. Grab a pew while you can.
Amuse, 22 Dawson Street, Dublin 2. Tel: (01) 639-4889
Three to try
NEWBIES IN TOWN
5 French Church Street, Cork, Co Cork.
Tel: (021) 427-8444, coqbull.com
It's no cock-and-bull story, they say, just a really cool premises, focusing on rotisserie chicken and big burgers. From a 'Supreme Bull' to a 'No Bull' burger for veggies
Mains, €12 - €23
Decadent Bull - beef with foie gras, forest mushroom, beetroot, truffle mayo and rocket, €19
From €20. Cocktails, mocktails and craft beers
Main Street, Dromahair, Co Leitrim. Tel: (071) 916-4728 facebook.com/LunaDromahair
Bernadette O'Shea's pizzas were revered in Sligo. Her new eatery in the pretty village of Dromahair recreates the iconic pizzas, fresh pasta and a whole lot more
Homemade cannelloni stuffed with spinach, Parmesan, ricotta and goat's cheese, €16.90
10 Bedford Row Limerick, Co. Limerick. Tel: (061) 597-668, facebook.com/TheButteryLimerick
A bright new city-centre cafe/restaurant doing all-day food. Delicious soups, cakes, wraps, sliders and daily specials are all available
Pint O'Prawns, toasted sourdough, garlic oil and salad, €12.95
Sunday Indo Life Magazine