Sunday, February 2, 2014

[Review] Brioche, Ranelagh, Dublin 6


 A lovely red brick cottage just off the main Ranelagh strip has been beautifully converted into the new location for Gavin McDonagh's Brioche. The concept here is French-style tasting plates, but in fairness to McDonagh, he's not a recent follower of this restaurant trend. He served up delectable little plates in the city centre Brioche Ce Soir, all from a tiny kitchen area used for daytime sandwich preparation.

But now, he's king of his own open kitchen, presiding over a small dining room and conservatory-type area. On the night we visited, the room was heaving with Ranelagh-rati who were packed in and downing wine at a pace reminiscent of the glory tiger days. This was in the middle of January, but no one was showing any signs of nervous waiting for that much anticipated January paycheck. It always seems as if it's a case of "laissez les bon temps rouler" in Ranelagh (to quote a friend of mine).
Pastrami of salmon

Killkeel Harbour Crab

Our friendly waiter didn't take any chances with us, making sure that we understood the tasting plates concept. I'd be interested in knowing if there isn't a Dublin diner who doesn't understand it at this point. The menu is varied and tempting and we chose our dishes with likely kitchen preparation times in mind. 

First out was the pastrami of salmon with pickled pear, ginger, soya and wasabi creme fraiche (€10.95) along with the Killkeel Harbour crab (€10.95). The little jabs of sour and sharp brought the rich salmon to life, while the helter-skelter arrangement of sweet crunchy apple and fennel lifted the delicate crab.
St Germain Foie Gras

St Germain foie gras, wrapped in Tipperary ham was served with duck fat-fried brioche (€12.95). Yes, you heard me right, duck fat-fried brioche. Doesn't that sound just wonderful? I'll have to leave assessment to Himself, but I really enjoyed the rich smoothness of the foie gras (Well who wouldn't?)

Pan-fried seabass with perfectly crispy skin came atop a pile of crunchy samphire, baby artichoke and tomato water and was, surprisingly one of the cheaper dishes on the menu (€9.95).
Pan-fried sea bass

Hop smoked duck breast

Our final dish of hop-smoked duck breast with muscat grape, chestnut purée and elderflower jus (€8.95) arrived at the same time as it did at the neighbouring table. One cooking effort for the chef, feeding two tables. Perfectly pink, it pleased my liking for smoky things.

Unlike most of our dining neighbours, we eschewed the bottle approach for two glasses of a lovely Blanco Nieva Verdejo at €7.50 per glass. To be frankly honest, I'm always amazed when I see couples drink two bottles of wine at dinner. Where's the enjoyment of the food when you're that blotto?

Brioche Ranelagh really is something special. Its quiet location on Elmwood Avenue makes it incredibly inviting, especially at night time when it casts warm light out onto the footpath. Inside, it's warm and bustling, the presentation is slick and the food is good. Ranelagh is a location where a good restaurant will be successful and it looks like McDonagh's move from the city centre will be richly rewarded.

Brioche, 51 Elmwood Avenue Lower, Ranelagh, Dublin 6
Tel: +353 (0)86 122 8828
URL: www.briocheranelagh.com
Twitter: @BriocheRanelagh

Brioche on Urbanspoon

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