Restaurant Review: 'Absolutely faultless, I can't think of one low point'
6 Aungier Street, Dublin 2. unomas.ie
The most hotly anticipated Dublin restaurant opening last year was Uno Mas, which got the kitchen in and the builders out in time for the run-up to Christmas, so that the city could fall over itself trying to nab a table.
When any restaurant opens, there are teething problems. Except that at Uno Mas there were none: the world and its wife loved it straight away.
I've eaten there a dozen times over the past four months, but last week was my first 'official' visit. Each time that I've been, the food has been better than the time before.
The menu has changed since the outset, although the sublime potato and onion tortilla - its oozing consistency controversial in some quarters - remains firmly in place. Paul McNamara and his brigade, having found their feet on Day One, are enjoying the freedom to experiment that comes with being a hit. And now that Uno Mas is no longer the newest show in town, the clientèle has settled down. Back in December the tables of glitter monkeys had scant interest in the food, finding it a distraction from the serious business of posting to make sure that their friends would know where they were. (I doubt that they have been back; Uno Mas is probably not their kind of place.) But now everyone seems to be there for the eating.
We start with a pair of gilda - said to be the first pinxto in San Sebastian - a sharp, mouth-puckering blast of olive, chilli and anchovy, and Iberico belly, the meat sliced wafer thin, draped over smoked aubergine on toast. The mouth-feel is luscious, the flavour deep.
Squid arros negre is a brand new dish and what a joy it is, tender morsels of squid from the plancha with the intensely flavoured, inky rice. A pair of super-fresh sardines, with delicate wild aioli by way of accompaniment, are just dandy.
The sweet flesh of the whole brill, roasted in the oven, has been loosened from the bone to make it easier for us to serve ourselves and is superb, with a cider butter spiked with capers, hen of the woods mushrooms, new season asparagus and potatoes: more artless simplicity. On the side, tender Hispi cabbage with walnuts, collapsing in a delicious heap.
For dessert, it's milhojas, a Spanish version of mille-feuille, the flaky pastry layered with a caramel mascarpone and red wine prune juice (shipped over from sibling restaurant Etto perhaps?), but for my money it's relegated to second place by the flan de queso, a wobbly crème caramel-alike, its slippery, slithery cheesiness topped with an off-burnt caramel.
From previous visits I can vouch for the salt-aged Delmonico for two (Uno Mas's version of Etto's legendary côte de boeuf), the asparagus with romesco and St Tola ash, an outstanding dish of red mullet with rice, the cured meats and the clams or cockles in fino-scented pork broth - hence the perfect score. I could go on. And on. We drank the Meinklang Blaufränkisch (€42), a light red at ease with the fish; our bill for two came to €162.50 before service.
ON A BUDGET
The two/three-course lunch costs €24/28. Try the arroz nero, John Dory with chorizo, carrot and razor clams, and dark chocolate and olive oil ganache.
ON A BLOW OUT
Jamon Iberico, scallop ceviche, salt-aged Delmonico and flan de queso for two will cost €140 before drinks or service.
THE HIGH POINT
The brill for two is absolutely brill.
THE LOW POINT
Can't think of one.