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 16, 2016

[Review] Forest & Marcy, Leeson Street Upper, Dublin 4

Dining without reservations has finally made it out of the city centre and into suburbia - well kind of, if you consider Upper Leeson Street to be the edge of the suburbs. John and Sandy Wyer, the force behind Forest Avenue have opened Forest & Marcy in the space formerly occupied by Rigby's and to which the adjective bijou can be truly applied.

Described as a "small neighbourhood wine room and kitchen", Forest & Marcy impresses from start to finish. We visit on a Sunday evening, fully expecting to have to wait to secure a space. Thankfully, the dining gods were on our side, and we took two places at the long dining bar. The theme is here the new normal of small plates of food, made by chef Ciaran Sweeney, using modern techniques combined with the best seasonal ingredients.
Stitch & Bear - Forest & Marcy - Interior
Interior at Forest & Marcy

With the very first dish, Forest & Marcy set a high bar with small crispy crackers of quinoa were topped with goats cheese, broad beans, mint and truffle. I was just amazed at the wonderful texture of the crispy quinoa (rice cakes move over!) and it was easily one of the most innovative creations I've seen. The Forest & Marcy take on the B.L.T. was equally impressive with surprisingly cold textures and flavours coming from little baby lettuce leaves topped with intense bacon jam and tomato snow.  At just €4 per plate, these little bites punch far about their weight.
Stitch & Bear - Forest & Marcy - Quinoa and goats cheese starter
Quinoa, goats cheese, truffle, broad bean and mint
Stitch & Bear - Forest & Marcy - BLT
The B.L.T. at Forest & Marcy

Stitch & Bear - Forest & Marcy - Sourdough bread
Sourdough bread
A house signature dish, the much praised fermented potato bread was a fluffy soft delight, served with a bowl of "bacon & cabbage" and a light bacon mousse (€8). Despite being a slight touch too salty, this definitely didn't bear any resemblance to the bacon and cabbage dishes served up by my grandmother. To me, this represented the acme of modern Irish cuisine.

Next was my least favourite dish of the night - but let me state that this was purely down to my personal tastes and my intense dislike of celery and all substances that taste like celery. Thankfully, the bright green lovage soup with smoked salmon and horseradish snow proved very much to his taste (€12).

A salt-baked, sweetly chamomile-flavoured carrot was bought to the counter for the grand reveal from its salt cocoon. taken away for playing at the counter, it then returned accompanied by pickled clams, goats yogurt and barley (€10). I must admit that I loved the semi-leathery pieces of roasted carrot, and all the additional little trimmings, but could take or leave the chamomile carrot itself.
Stitch & Bear - Forest & Marcy - Fermented potato bread with bacon and cabbage
Fermented potato bread with bacon and cabbage
Stitch & Bear - Forest & Marcy - Smoked salmon with lovage and radish
Smoked salmon with lovage and radish
Stitch & Bear - Forest & Marcy - Chamomile baked carrots with pickled clams, goats yogurt and barley
Chamomile baked carrots with pickled clams, goats yogurt and barley

An autumnal dish of glazed duck breast with beetroot, blackberry and pistachio (€18) was everything that you'd expect, but the main course star award went to the dish of brill with sweetcorn, ceps and hazelnuts. Everything on this plate was wonderfully in harmony with its neighbours, resulting in a glorious and sublime harmony.
Stitch & Bear - Forest & Marcy - Glazed duck with beetroot, blackberry and pistachio
Glazed duck with beetroot, blackberry and pistachio
Stitch & Bear - Forest & Marcy -Brill, sweetcorn, ceps and hazelnuts
Brill, sweetcorn, ceps and hazelnuts
Finally, we shared a dessert of blackcurrant leaf custard tart served with apple and meadowsweet. Precisely and beautifully cut, the custard texture was simply wonderful and more than capable of occupying a plate all on its own. All the while we were eating this gorgeous tart, we could see lumps of beautiful cheese, stored underneath glass domes. I promised myself another time there would be cheese.
Stitch & Bear - Forest & Marcy - Tart of blackcurrant leaf custard with apple and meadowsweet
Tart of blackcurrant leaf custard with apple and meadowsweet
Before I finish up, let me make a very special mention for the wine list at Forest & Marcy. It's one of the most exciting and interesting wine lists that I've read for some while. All wines (yes all wines) are available by the glass, with the ingenious Coravin system being used to dispense some of the more expensive wines. A glass of the superb Greywacke 2014 wild ferment sauvignon blanc cost €12, while a glass of the richer and more robust Jarvis Estate 2005 Chardonnay from Margaret River cost a little more at €16. 

For this wine list alone, I will return again and again to Forest & Marcy. 

We dined from the chef's choice sharing menu at €45 per head, which delivers a selection from all dishes listed on the menu. However, I have also listed the a la carte menu price for reference. At this price point, Forest & Marcy represents exceptional value and an immersive experience into modern, Irish cooking. The chefs may appear informal, but it's very clear that this is all about preparation and flawless execution. And the end result is very special indeed.

Forest & Marcy, 126 Leeson Street Upper, Dublin 4
Tel: +353 (0)1 660 2480
Twitter: @ForestandMarcy
Instagram: @forestandmarcy

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