Sunday 18 March 2018

Restaurant review: Lucinda O’Sullivan at Corfu, Dublin 2

Not everything coming out of Greece these days is a total disaster, says Lucinda O’Sullivan. Their economy may be on the skids, but Corfu restaurant is one export we’re more than happy to see here

The sight of two olive trees and a perky canopy blowing in the wind tunnel that was Parliament Street, running up from the River Liffey to Dublin Castle, on a cold winter evening, proved very attractive as we dashed inside in search of sustenance.

It was early evening and Corfu had that easy, laid-back feel, as the men of the house were sitting at a table chatting — no doubt discussing the Greek economy — the sort of thing you see in sun-drenched Aegean tavernas during mid-afternoon. We were greeted warmly by one of the men who, sitting us by the window, handed us the menus, and said laughingly, “Don’t criticise the menu — that’s the chef sitting there.”

The long, narrow room has white walls featuring rustic brick insets, simple wooden tables, ladderback chairs, red paper napkins and a couple of blackboards and, of course, Greek music to lift the spirits. The chef, telling us he was Greek, took himself off to the kitchen, and we dived into the menu.

Proto piato — starters, a dozen or so — were reasonably priced between €4.95 and €9.95, including taramosalata, the Greek stalwart, a pate made with smoked cod roe. Kalamari was there as well as tzatziki, while garides are jumbo prawns fried with tomato sauce and feta, finished with ouzo. Anyway, Brenzorba, my Greek, fancied keftedes (€6.50) while I threw in my lot with kolokithia melitzana me skordalia (€5.50) and dolmadakia (€6.50). I had wanted oktapodi — yes, you guessed it — marinated octopus cooked on the charcoal grill, served with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. However, the octopus had escaped — or, to be more precise, there was “no fresh octopus available that day”.

With our mini mezze of three starters, the keftedes were four decent bite-size meatballs in a pool of tomato sauce; dolmadakia were four vine leaves wrapped around a rice stuffing, which were pleasant, too, with a blob of yoghurt; while kolokithia — aubergine and courgette slices fried in oil — came with a green salad, yellow peppers, and garlic sauce. These were quite oily if you don’t like oil — I do — and I’m an aubergine addict.

Kyrios piato — main courses — were €10.95-€19.95 including the other Greek stalwart of mousakas, with layers of aubergine and mince topped with Bechamel sauce. The Corfu version, I noticed, included potatoes — which some use as a cost-cutting exercise. I like it pure, so didn’t choose it. Sorry chef, that is a criticism, but the rest is good! They have a grill section including paidakia — chargrilled lamb chops — sirloin steak, or kebabs of chicken or pork. They also have a fish choice. Stifado (€17.95) for Brendan was a rich, tasty and ample portion of beef stew cooked in red wine sauce and served with plenty of potatoes tossed in oil and herbs.

Kleftiko (€18.95) for me was also a very ample portion of lamb steak on the bone, wrapped in tinfoil and steamed with herbs and garlic, potatoes, carrot and courgette. A bit like Irish stew, it was perfect for when you want good, hearty food. A dome of rice was on the side with a fine salad of cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, peppers and crispy lettuce.

Having been assured that the baklavas (€4.95), a Greek/Middle Eastern dessert of filo pastry, nuts, butter, sugar, cinnamon and honey, was made in-house, I went for it — and it was divine. I want more — in fact, it could become addictive.

They had “no Greek wine yet” so, with a bottle of Australian Oddsocks Shiraz (€20.50), our bill with optional service came to €88.85. They also do a seafood mezzedes (€16.95) or a meat mezzedes (€14.95) — selection plates. They have a simple lunch or early bird menu which runs from 12.30-6pm at €9.95 including a glass of house wine — now that can’t be bad — and they list their meat and fish suppliers, both good companies. Kali Orexi!

Corfu, 12 Parliament Street, Dublin 2. Tel: (01) 675-0050

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