I first visited Camden Kitchen just over a year ago (blog post here) shortly after it had opened. At the time, I had liked my food, but felt perhaps that prices were just a tiny bit on the high side. Recently, an offer came via Boards Deals to purchase a Sunday lunch for two for the sum of €32, with a quoted value of €77. The voucher covered a 2 course lunch, with Bellinis and tea/coffee.
So it was that we arrived for Sunday lunch on a wet & dreary lunchtime. However, once inside the door, we were warmly greeted and quickly given our two included bellinis. This might be the time to share a little fact about me: I love bellinis. If you're ever serving them at a wedding or event at which I am a guest, then make sure to stock up well. One of the things I must do before I'm too old is to visit Harry's in Venice (home of the Bellini) and indulge while sitting on the waterside.
The menu is full of seasonal dishes, with 5 options available per course. Daily specials were chalked up on the board behind us, and I really felt as if I had plenty to choose from. For starters I chose the confit duck boudin (€10.00) while he went for a special of French fish soup, with bright yellow rouille and croutons. The boudin was spiced, soft and crumbly, and partnered very well with the sweet apricots. Two decent chunks made for a good starter, though I didn't find any benefit from the harsh taste of the toasted walnuts. His fish soup was creatively served in a mason jar, which looked great, but posed difficulties when it was time to float the croutons in the soup. However, this was an authentic fish soup, rich and flavoursome, and I especially loved the bright orange-yellow of the saffron-flavoured rouille.
|Confit duck boudin, poached new season apricots & toasted walnuts|
|Fish soup with rouille and croutons|
For mains I chose the pea risotto (€14) while he went for another special, rare-breed pork chop served with the spanish flavours of roasted peppers and chorizo. My risotto was nothing short of spectacular. It was a bright green colour, which I can only assume came from the peas being pureed and added to the cream and parmesan when cooking. The consistency was creamy and rich (as a risotto should be) but came topped with a pile of crunchy green vegetables, including asparagus, salty samphire & pea shoots. This was a wonderful dish of summer cooking and I revelled in every mouthful.
|Fresh pea risotto, summer vegetables, sprouting broccoli & pumpkin seeds|
His pork chop came served with a pile of rich, stewed peppers & chorizo. The chop itself was thick and juicy, cooked perfectly. For some people though, the lack of further accompanying vegetables (requiring the addition of a side order) would be a bit offputting. Lack of additional veg aside, this was a substantial and tasty piece of meat and the spanish flavours were well-judged
|Rare-breed pork chop with red pepper & chorizo|
We declined dessert, as we simply too full to consider eating any more.One note - our coffees came served with warm milk, which wasn't pointed out to us, or noticed until we had poured in the milk. This wouldn't be to my taste, and I think it's a bit unfair of Camden Kitchen to assume that we'd like warm milk in our coffee.
Overall, I think that the cooking at Camden Kitchen is pretty damn good. It's casual and relaxed in atmosphere but the food is definitely good enough to feature in more prestigious establishments. (In fact, my confit duck boudin reminded me of a similar boudin enjoyed on a recent visit to Chapter One). In fact, the fabulous green pea risotto has inspired me to cook a version at home. So hats off to Chef Padraic Hayden.
Camden Kitchen, Grantham Street (off Camden Street), Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 476 0125