Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

[Review] Locks, Windsor Terrace, Dublin 8

The tenet of reincarnation sits at the core of the Hindu religion, where the jiva (soul) will continue through endless cycles of birth, death and rebirth until moksa or the final release is achieved. I sometimes feel that the restaurant trade also believes in reincarnation. Occasionally the rebirth is confined to minor tweaks and a lick of paint. Other times, the changes are more substantial; a new chef or a whole reboot.

Sitting in one of the prettiest locations in Dublin, Locks on Windsor Terrace has had an interesting history. As Locks Brasserie, it achieved the highest accolade of a Michelin star in 2012 under Rory Carville, only to lose it the following year following his departure in 2013. It closed in the summer of 2015, and reopened in September as Locks Restaurant, complete with a whimsical swan motif and under the command of head chefs Conor O'Dowd and Keelan Higgs. Higgs had previously worked as head chef in Locks Brasserie and grabbed the opportunity to reinvigorate the venue.

The dining room hasn't changed much, but has been freshened up and finished with lovely little touches. I really liked the warm blood orange bread plates which bought an instant touch of comfort to the table. Incredibly crusty and perfect bread rolls, served with cultured butter were bought to the table, followed by two perfect Kelly's oysters, served in the shell with a small drizzle of shallot vinaigrette (€1.50 each). Potato "crisps" were flat, compressed fried potato slices, served with a divine aioli (€3.50).  
Crusty loaves and cultured butter
Two perfect Kelly's oysters
Snack of potato crisps with aioli
We ordered from the Sunday lunch menu where two courses cost €25 or 3 for €30. Seared mackerel with beetroot, radish and apple (supplement of €2) was perfectly cooked. I love sweetcorn as an ingredient, so it was no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed a bowl of beautifully smooth and yellow sweetcorn soup with sweet crayfish and basil sitting in the centre. 
Mackerel with beetroot and radish
The roast pork platter for 2 to share exceeded all expectations. Soft pork belly, crackling, slow cooked pork jowl and a shiny pork pie were piled high on a slate, while pork fillet, sauces and roast fennel were served separately on plates. The roast for 2 does attract a supplement (I think it was €10) but there is a lot of meat bang for your buck. We were largely silent while eating, which is probably the highest compliment possible. 
Platter of pork belly, crackling, jowl and pork pie
Pork fillet with smoked sauerkraut, apple and gravy
Desserts were simply wonderful, and would make me visit Locks for coffee alone. A perfectly cut slice of coffee tart was richly flavoured, with subtle sweetness.  The simple sounding "Peaches and cream" turned out to be much more than advertised, comprised of a creamy panna cotta topped with peach jelly and other nice bits. Petits fours were stunning in their simplicity; lavender macaron and fluffy coconut marshmallows. It's very clear that there is a highly talented pastry chef at work here. 
Sublime coffee tart
Peaches and cream
Petits fours of macarons and marshmallows
The wine list is interesting and has a strong Portuguese influence, from which we chose a Prova Regia Arinto, which is great value at just €29 per bottle. This wine is always a great choice when in the off-licence as it offers great freshness and zestiness, with some roundness and good complexity. 

The rebooted Locks is just wonderful. Friendly service, a lively atmosphere and really good modern Irish cooking all combine to make this new venture stand out. There is no stuffiness or pretentiousness here, but don't assume that there is a relaxed approach in the kitchen.  The cooking is sharp and on point. Well done to all involved at the new Locks, and here's looking forward to many more great meals on the banks of the Grand Canal. 

Locks, 1 Windsor Terrace, Portobello, Dublin 8
Tel: +353 (0)1 416 3655
URL: www.locksrestaurant.ie
Twitter: @LocksRestaurant
Instagram: @lockswindsorterrace

Locks Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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