First impressions can be true to what follows, but, says Lucinda O'Sullivan, this time, impressive decor and courteous waiters didn't make up for tasteless food and irritating maitres d',
I have a friend who sometimes says, "That was a bit light" following an unsatisfactory restaurant visit. It covers the "not-quite-desperate" or "room-for-improvement" experience and it could have described our evening at the new Wild Goose Grill in Ranelagh. Located over McSorley's Pub in two rooms which formerly housed Ouzo Restaurant, we were greatly impressed with the new refurb. It now has sophisticated grey-and-white walls, crisp white napery, grey-velvet dralon upholstery and black lampshades. Billie Holiday was crooning away. We were three, and first into the restaurant on that particular evening. We were offered a table in the middle of the floor, then, we were offered a table outside the kitchen door, before eventually being allowed a banquette table by a window. Why the hell do restaurateurs always hold back the best tables rather than looking after the bird in the hand?
A tad pretentious could describe the ambience and attitude: some indeed might say the Wild Goose was a bit "up itself". Two striped-shirted chaps in charge wafted around. They might have been working in the stock exchange, rather than serving steaks. Courteous waiters were dressed in traditional French brasserie-style uniforms; black with long white aprons.
Initially, we were quite pleased on reading the menu, which had main courses all under €25, but it failed to deliver. In their first week of operation, it was also disappointing to be told that the first item on the not-so-vast menu, a simple rack of lamb, was "off". Surely, if their supplier had not materialised with the same, it was not that difficult to go down the road and buy some in?
Our main problem with the food, however, was that everything we had was bland and anaemic from start to finish. Moules marinieres (€10), to start, was a decent portion of the molluscs themselves, but in a lukewarm, very tasteless, watery jus. Prawn, crab and avocado cocktail was served in a wine glass, no spoon provided, and looked crisp and cool. However, the prawns were king prawns, not Dublin Bay prawns, the crab was almost an illusion and the lot was mixed with shredded greenery, topped with mayonnaise. There was no sign of any avocado -- very expensive at €14. Goat's cheese and herb pate with a red-pepper coulis (€10) had a set-gelatin texture and, while the presentation looked quite polished, was tasteless.
A simple fillet steak (€25), with a fluff of greenery, was the best offering, but, again, a black-pepper sauce was more like a thin demi glaze than a punchy pepper sauce. Fries in a separate little bowl were very dreary.
Turbot (€23), a tail piece cut in two, was overcooked and lying on more watery jus, containing white beans and clams. A modest corn-fed chicken breast (€22) was perched on top of a tian of awful "colcannon" with some decorative squiggles on the plate. The "colcannon" comprised totally dry mashed potato with a couple of little lumps of cabbage through it, and it had a sour taste.
Brendan ate the chicken, but was getting quietly annoyed with the whole performance. Asked by one of the "shirts" if everything was ok, Brendan enlightened him in no uncertain terms. He was asked whether he would like something else, but he had had enough! The "shirt" retreated looking startled, but still charged in full for what proved an expensive bit of chicken.
To see if things might improve, we persisted with two puddings, cheesecake and pear tart, at €7 a pop. The cheesecake had a dense, chalky cheese topping, but the pear tart was better.
With an enjoyable bottle of Sipp Mack Riesling (€26), from an enormous wine list, a bottle of still water (€4.50) and optional service for the waiters, our bill came to €162.50. The Wild Goose Grill may be up and flying, but our experience was lame duck -- nay, wild-goose chase.
The Wild Goose Grill,
1 Sandford Road,
Tel: (01) 491-2377