La Pergola is the only three star Michelin restaurant in Rome, where Executive Chef Heinz Beck oversees an eye-wateringly expensive menu. If you were to opt for the tasting menu, you would leave €210 poorer and that's without wines. Even with a bargain basement Ryanair flight to Rome, that would put a dent in anyone's pocket. Fortunately, Oliver Dunne of Bon Appetit restaurant in Malahide recently hosted La Pergola | A Celebration featuring a menu inspired by this great restaurant but with a far more affordable price tag (€60 per head).
Malahide was bathed in bright light from a setting springtime sun as we took our seats in the first floor restaurant. It's so nice to watch the day pass into nighttime and have the room gradually turn from light to dark. It's definitely a summer feeling, rather than the abrupt transition we experience in winter. As you will see, the lighting in the photos below clearly shows the move from evening to night.
Tuna with wasabi foam, pickled vegetables
Roma tomato foam, tomato tartare, Taggiasca olive salt
Pesce San Pietro
John Dory, smoked aubergine puree, fresh linguini, red pepper oil
Cuscini di Vitello
Cushion of veal, pistachio crumb, puree of artichoke and Mortadella, salsa verde, roasting juices
White chocolate sorbet, poached Alfonso mango, basil crisp
Espresso mousse, cioccolata cream, Balsamico gel, walnut gelato, cioccolata Anglaise
For me, the standout items were the tomato tartare which was rich and meaty, full of intense tomato flavour. The veal, with it's pistachio crust, and the fresh linguine (a rare exception to my wheat-free eating) accompanying the lightly cooked John Dory were also excellent. I really enjoy coffee flavours and the quinelle of espresso mousse in the deconstructed tiramisu paired well with the walnut ice-cream. Even himself, who doesn't like white chocolate, liked the white chocolate sorbet served with basil infused mango. (I could definitely see this flavour combination inspiring a new cocktail creation in the new future.)
Once again, Bon Appetit has demonstrated its ability to offer something a little different. The combination of three different dining venues (the Michelin restaurant, the Brasserie and `Le Bon Vin) along with frequent special offers and themed evenings, demonstrates a restaurant that caters to multiple markets, while maintaining high standards. Oliver Dunne is a modern Irish chef who produces extremely skillful dishes (I still remember a stunning clear tomato jelly), but also recognises the importance of a comfortable and friendly dining room. Bon appetit indeed!
Bon Appetit, St James' Terrace, Malahide, Co. Dublin
Tel: +353 (0)1 845 0314