Saturday, August 4, 2012

Alexis, Dun Laoghaire

I've been under a lot of pressure lately, but not from work. Oh no, work would be a fine thing indeed. Instead, I've been faced with the task of taking the Mother- and Father-in-Law to good restaurants in Dublin. Late night conference calls and dealing with pressurised project timelines are grand, but I was in a cold sweat at the thought of disappointing Mrs. H. There are some people in your life that you can't stand to disappoint.

When it comes to dinner, Mr. & Mrs. H. have a simple set of criteria. Good value, preferably on an Early Bird, good food and a nice atmosphere. I racked my brains, looking for venues which would impress, therefore gaining me some serious brownie points. Reflected glory and all that. One name on my list of restaurants to visit came immediately to mind, namely Alexis of Dun Laoghaire.

Alexis is large and open, nicely decorated in browns and creams, with a long marble-topped bar dominating one side of the room. For me, the only downside was the weird tromp l'oeil quilted wallpaper, which seemed to cheapen the rest of the decor. Tables are nicely spaced, allowing for a more intimate dining experience.

We all ordered from the set menu, which offers two courses for €18, or three for €23. We were wowed by the arrival of surprise starter plate from the kitchen, with compliments of owner Patrick. A beautifully seared sweet scallop, celeriac puree, a little deep-fried ball of soft moist pig's head topped with a dainty poached quail egg. Presentation was stunning, with more than a little cheffy flair on show thanks to artfully arranged micro leaves and nutty caramelised crumbles.
Surprise  starter plate of seared scallop, pigs head, quail egg and celeriac puree
A starter of cold smoked organic salmon was equally beautiful with the vibrant salmon colour standing out on the white plate while Edenderry Farm ham terrine was a dense slice of pressed meat. The terrine could have done with more of the tangy crunchy piccalilli as there just wasn't enough of it to accompany all the meat. Mr H. never fails to order soup, and he loved the dramatic tableside pouring of his fennel soup, with fennel puree and orange zest. 
Cold smoked organic salmon with pickled vegetables
Edenderry Farm ham terrine with piccalilli
We needed some breathing space after our unplanned two starters, and thankfully the service was nicely timed to suit. His slow roasted corn-fed chicken came with wild nettle puree and mousseline potatoes. The addition of a hay smoked leg elevated this dish past the traditional Sunday lunch version. Mr and Mrs H both opted for the 48 hour cooked feather blade beef with button mushrooms and creamed potatoes. Simply served, the beef was tender and soft. 

My choice of smoked haddock came atop a mound of spring onion mash, with samphire, poached egg and a smooth lemon and chive butter. Breaking into a poached egg and watching the yolk ooze out is one of the true food pleasures. The haddock was delicious when dipped into the egg yolk and butter sauce, accompanied by the salty juiciness of the samphire. My sole complaint about the main courses would be their portion sizes, which were simply massive. Even Himself of the never-ending appetite felt that the portions were too big.
Slow roasted corn-fed chicken
48 hour feather blade beef
Smoked haddock with poached egg and spring onion mash
There was never any doubt that we were going to order dessert, even after three courses. Some meals, you are just going to have dessert, no arguments. Mr and Mrs H shared a rich flourless Valrhona chocolate and raspberry cake, served with a swirl of deliciously salty caramel sauce. Himself chose the simple sounding fresh strawberry mousse, with a layer of strawberry jelly on top. My choice of clementine creme brûlée was deliciously creamy with a light delicate crust of burnt sugar, but I didn't pick up much of the advertised clementine flavour. This was compensated for by another swirl of that finger-licking salted caramel sauce.
Flourless raspberry & chocolate cake
Fresh strawberry mousse
Alexis' wine list consists of organic and biodynamic wines. I very much enjoyed a light and tasty Domaine de Mirande Picpoul de Pinet (€6.00 per glass) while Mr H had a glass of Cantina Social Frentana Montepulciano D'Abruzzo (€5.50).

The end result? A very content set of parents-in-law and very full stomachs. Choosing the Early Bird Menu at Alexis does not mean settling for a lightweight version of the a la carte menu. The elegant presentation of our dishes was top notch showing that Alexis is a place with both substance and style. 

Alexis, 17-18 Patrick's Street, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin
Tel: +353 (0)1 280 8872
URL: www.alexis.ie
Twitter: @AlexisDublin
Alexis Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

Peggy said...

Great review! Can't wait to try!

Anonymous said...

I thought I'd posted a comment already sorry! Just wanted to say I've only just found your blog and love it! It's brilliant.