L’Ecrivain continued to impress and improve on a recent visit. The seasonal tasting menu was well executed and included some stunning dishes. Venison, perfectly prepared and rolled in ash, with a deep beetroot sauce and blackberries. Roasted quail, with an amazing black pudding and fermented barley was another highly accomplished and excellent dish. Scallops with fermented cabbage was clean, with great depth and balance. The whole meal was accomplished and polished from one of the best restaurants in the capital.
Our meals over the years in Thorntons have been a mixed bag. Some have been fantastic, like our tasting menu meal last year which was the best meal we had in Ireland last year. Some have been very poor however. Our recent lunch fell somewhere in between. A decent opening course of nicely cooked pigeon with a juniper sauce was a good start. The main was the let-down though. Pheasant, cooked for 10 hours, managed to keep the gamey flavour, but tasted overcooked and dry, served with an undercooked tiny cube of purple potato. It was not saved by a nice jus. Desserts were quite pleasing; a cleansing and punchy poitin sour, which was like a seasonal cocktail, and a nice chocolate crème bruleé, which would have been better without the popping candy. Thornton’s can be anything, and Kevin Thornton is one of Ireland’s finest ever chefs, but to us eating there in the last few years has been a bit of a lucky dip.
ETTO's€35 tasting menu, served Monday to Wednesday, proved to be an excellent saviour on a cold wet night. It is built around quality produce and good old fashioned cookery. Starting with some snacks of olives, ham and excellent croquettes. A lovely pork cheek braised in fino was moreish, indulgent and warming. A warming dessert of boozy prunes with mascarpone provided the warmth we needed to head back into the cold. ETTO is a charming bistro serving some well sourced and well executed food with friendly service.