Restaurant review: Paolo Tullio at Peploe’s, Dublin 2
The last time Sophie Kenny came back from New York, we went to dinner in San Lorenzo in George's Street, a place she was keen to visit because she'd heard that it had a New York feel to it.
She was back again this week and this time her preferred choice was 777, a new Mexican restaurant that's almost next door to San Lorenzo. This time it seems that she's developed a liking for Mexican food in New York.
I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of Central American cooking, but I was willing to have my prejudices overturned by good food. We called 777 and learned that they will only take bookings for parties of six or more.
We decided to go early, on the basis that would make getting a table easier, and got there a tad before seven. Not early enough though, the lady at the door told us we'd have to wait an hour and a half for a table. Kicking my heels for an hour and a half really didn't appeal to me much, so I said no thank you.
"So what now?" said Sophie, "What about that place where I had my 21st birthday party? That was a nice place." It was a nice place, and it was called Peploe's, so that's where we went.
Peploe's describes itself as a 'steak and wine bistro', which lets you know what to expect on the menu. Actually, although the menu isn't a long one, there are plenty of choices other than steak. The other half of the description is 'wine' and Peploe's does indeed have a well-sourced and fairly lengthy wine list.
I was told that they import all their Italian wines directly themselves, and there were some very interesting wines on the list.
My only reservation about the list is the pricing. There are very few wines priced at under €30, which really isn't that hard to achieve.
Even with a good mark-up, it's possible to put decent wines on a list in the €20-€30 bracket.
As it happens, with both of us driving, we didn't choose any wine.
Instead, we ordered a big bottle of water for Sophie and a sparkling one for me. At €5.25 for 750ml bottle, I thought the water was expensive.
Sophie decided on the bruschetta for her starter, and I taught her how to pronounce it. In Italian, a 'ch' is a hard 'c', as in cow, so you say 'broos-ketta', just like you say 'key-anty' when you read Chianti.
Pan-seared lamb kidneys caught my attention, so that's what I ordered. Unusually, the starters are divided into three sections on the menu -- there are appetisers, entrées (which in America are your main courses) and pasta and risottos, which can be had as either a starter or a main course.
Then, there's a section for steaks and roasts, another for fish and shellfish and, lastly, a section for salads and vegetables.
There was a daily special of slow-roasted lamb shoulder, which Sophie ordered, and I ordered the roast suckling pig.
The starters arrived and the bruschetta Sophie got was generous in size. It came with mushrooms, mozzarella and wild garlic pesto.
If you've ever wondered what you can do with wild garlic, it makes an excellent pesto. If you cook it in any way, it loses all of its flavour.
All in all, a good starter, and I really enjoyed mine.
The kidneys were lightly cooked and the mustard sauce was properly reduced, plus it came with a slice of toasted brioche, which I used to mop up the last of the sauce.
The main courses arrived with a selection of vegetables and a small copper pot of Parmesan mash. Restaurant mash potato is a lovely thing, because it invariably contains a lot more butter than anyone would ever add when making it at home.
It also tends to be smoother than homemade mash, so it's probably a good thing for my diet that I'm not presented with it too often.
The little pot on the table was shiny with olive oil and tasted wonderfully of Parmesan. If I didn't have so much self-control, I'd have eaten the lot.
The cabbage that came with my dish was also very tasty and we enjoyed other vegetables as well.
When she tasted her lamb, Sophie said: "There's an odd taste to this that I can't place." I tried it and was able to tell her that the odd taste was from the jus. It had a burnt taste to it, which was a pity because the lamb itself was tender and nicely cooked.
Thankfully, my pork had no problems and I ate as much as I could.
What floored both of us was the the amount of meat we got. I don't think either of us managed much more than half of what was on plate.
There was only one thing for it: we asked to have it wrapped up so that we could take it home for later. It came beautifully wrapped in foil, looking like a duck.
You'd think that if you weren't hungry for your main course, you wouldn't be hungry for a dessert. But, a while ago, I realised that there's a separate dessert stomach, which has room in it when the main stomach is full.
So we ordered a dessert -- a rhubarb crumble, which arrived in a pretty copper-handled dish and it pleased Sophie. I couldn't manage much of it, but what I tasted I liked.
We ended our meal with an espresso for me and a tea for Sophie, bringing our bill to €89.95.
There's good service in Peploe's and you're not cramped at the tables, which given its city-centre position is a big plus.
Bear in mind that it's a bistro, so the menu has been designed so that you can nip in, have a glass of wine and a snack if you wish, rather than go for the full three courses.
Green, Dublin 2
On a budget
There’s no obvious budget dish on the menu, but what you could do is choose either a small portion of pasta or risotto. Either would be reasonably filling and would cost you between €12.50 and €14.50.
On a blowout
Start with the fish and shellfish antipasto, the most expensive starter at €14.50. Peploe’s describes itself as a steak bistro, so you could follow with a steak. The 8oz fillet and the 10oz rib-eye are €29.50.