Blackrock Market is not exactly the kind of place where you'd normally expect to find a fine dining restaurant, but I suppose that this modern world is all about inverting the norms. Plus I'd imagine that the rent is considerably cheaper than in the middle of town. Heron and Grey, named after owners Andrew Heron and chef Damien Grey, has taken over the premises of the former Canteen, and following a brief refit early in the year, it's now open under its own vision.
It's a small dining room, the kind that estate agents would term bijou, with the open kitchen located at the rear. Every inch of storage space is astutely used and absolutely nothing is hidden from sight. In order to keep the kitchen running smoothly, diners are synced together so that plates can be prepared at the same time. Waves of plates are spread out on the counters and dishes are assembled with care. Watching Damien and co as the food is plated makes me realise how much prep work is undertaken at Heron & Grey in order to ensure a smooth, continuous service.
We dined first for lunch (three courses for €26) and following that we were more than sufficiently intrigued to return for dinner (five courses for €48). The ingredients used are always fresh and completely seasonal, with the menu changing every two weeks. I'm told that dishes are never repeated which means that every meal at Heron & Grey will be unique
We started with a wonderful plate of butternut squash flavoured with vanilla and accompanied by blobs of Pedro Ximenez vinegar. Textures and contrasts abounded on the plate. Next was a single plump raviolo of ox and octopus, which had an intriguing texture, dressed with crisp reindeer moss and juicy samphire.
|Ox and octopus raviolo|
A simple bowl of broth with vermicelli, lime and little mushrooms was a refreshing and cleansing break before we moved onto the main meat course. Duck was served beautifully pink with a wonderful sticky sweet sauce and knotweed. This was my first time eating knotweed (an invasive weed species) and I was immediately reminded of rhubarb, though slightly greener and bitter.
|Broth with vermicelli and lime|
|Duck with knotweed and currant|
Desserts again continued the trend of multiple flavours and texture. Banana split with coffee and salt, followed by a surprise dessert of chocolate with raspberry. These two desserts were perhaps a little too close in style and could have benefited from a greater contrast.
|Banana, coffee and salt|
Surprise desert chocolate with raspberry powder
The wine list is constantly evolving also, with new wines joining frequently. On our visit, we had an excellent Australian Pinot Noir but the star wine was a 2011 Chateau de Malle Sauternes which was simply sublime.
Heron & Grey is so small that every team member pitches in during service, with lots of good humour and chat. And it's also utterly excellent. The small size of the room, combined with its popularity means that you need to ring well in advance to secure a weekend booking. But it's well worth the wait.
Heron & Grey, Blackrock Market, Main St, Blackrock, Co Dublin
Tel: +353 (0)1 212 3676