Chef Patron JP McMahon was on the pass for this meal, watching over our ten course tasting menu which started with a lovely dish of plump mussels, apple and scous grass - a light and cleansing opener. Mackerel, lightly cooked with charred leek which added a delicious meatiness to it continued the good start.
Some of the dishes were not heavily sauced, and on first appearance seemed like they might be dry, but on the palate did not lack moisture. An example of this was our last cold starter of a fantastic serving of butternut squash with some meltingly tender and very flavoursome goat ragu.
McMahon does not put too many components on one plate, instead falling on just a few to create excellent combinations with clear flavours. One of the best dishes was a perfectly cooked, pink and tender, woodcock, with al dente and moreish barley and an intense jus with elderberries lifting it with a slight tarteness. It had perfect execution with pure flavours. Adding a bit of bitterness to a dish again worked wonderfully with quince and kolrabhi marrying well with moist rabbit. The tastes and the intense red colours of autumn were beautifully captured on a great dish of pigeon, again cooked to absolute perfection, with blackberry and beetroot.
A dish of brill, although cooked just right, was the only slight let down. Served with sea bucktorn and mushroom, but with nothing to bring the dish together and lardo on the seasoned fish made the dish a bit too salty. Goats cheese with pear and hazelnut was a light, fragrant and well balanced cheese course.
A dessert of caramel, malt with artichoke crisps kept up the same high standard as the savoury courses. It had sweetness, saltiness and great textures to make up a very interesting sweet course.
The food of Aniar is accomplished , executed with skill and care, but still has has a slight rusticity to it. Maybe not the prettiest in presentation, but with a natural look, the dishes capture the local landscape well. Flavours are uncluttered, clear and on the whole the tastes on the plate worked extremely well together. Aniar is doing a lot to support and promote local farmers and you get a sense that they want to showcase their great produce as best they can.
The small dining room has a noise and energy that gives the feel of a sort of a local Irish bistro. The service is friendly, hospitable and enthusiastic and servers had a good knowledge of the food they were serving. Diners can opt to order a menu of between 6 and 14 courses. We opted for 10 courses at €100, which felt like good value.
The food in Aniar captures the region and the season and it manages to this with clear, uncluttered bold flavours. This meal was certainly up there with the best we have had in Ireland this year.
See Aniar on our list of restaurant ratings