Grub & Grape Spy: The wonderful Washerwoman and Carmen Wave Sauvignon Blanc
SOMETIMES forget how hard it must be to run a restaurant.
All that money invested, all those hours slaving away in a furnace that calls itself a kitchen. I roll my eyes and wonder why they put themselves through it. And then some wise-ass food critic saunters in and tears strips out of it.
Even running a bad restaurant takes effort. And if you put so much effort into running a bad joint, you’re asking for the scathing reviews.
Today we’re in the north side of Dublin, visiting the new-ish Washerwoman in Glasnevin, run by the crew from the Woollen Mills and The Winding Stair. If recent rapturous reports are anything to go by, we should be in for a humdinger.
On entry, we are shepherded upstairs. I quickly scan the surroundings and the menu. It is not a fancy place with an over-inflated opinion of itself - more it’s the kind of place where families, friends and dating couples can feel right at home.
And then there’s the food. The starters are nigh-on perfect. A whorl of smoked chicken liver pâté is the smoothest, silkiest meat paste ever to bedaub a wedge of toasted sourdough. The Boss just adores it.
There’s also a pair of spicy crab cakes and some watercress topped with fresh crayfish with a side of saffron-laced tartar to bind it all together. They taste so intensely of crab and crayfish I wonder if other restaurants really know what they are doing.
There are no great innovations happening here, but like I said, the starters are nigh-on perfect.
And then we have the bovine dry-aged superstars – Dexter 28-day rib-eyes jockeying for position with 30- day Limousin sirloins, 28 day Himalayan salt-aged T-bones. AND proper dry-aged burgers. These cows got some serious looking after; first by a farmer, then by a butcher, and finally by a skilful chef.
The Limousin steak arrives as ordered - medium leaning towards rare - seared with a seductive char and crowned with a nub of wild garlic butter.
There is so much to admire here - the beef tastes amazing, the chips are like chips used to be, the chipotle slaw is a crunchy, smoky pleasure (although maybe an extra thump of smokiness would not go astray). And finally, there’s some excellent garlic aioli.
A great looking chicken supreme coated in crunchy panko and loaded with Durrus cheese is up next. Chicken can often be dreary and tasteless in restaurants, but not this baby. It’s stunningly tender, wonderfully moist and tastes like chicken should taste.
It is lifted even further out of the ordinary by the Durrus cheese melting over the spuds and broccoli, and by a splash of shamelessly rich plum gravy.
Never trust a panna cotta in a glass. If its not wibbly-wobbling on a plate, it’s just not cricket. And shovelling on whopping great piles of homemade granola (albeit a fine granola) does not rescue matters. The Boss was not a happy bunny.
A cheese selection with a glass of Barao Di Villar port was much more successful.
So, now I know why these particular guys do it – why they invest so much of themselves in ventures that could disappear overnight. They are staggeringly bloody good at it.
60 Glasnevin Hill,
Dublin 9 Ph: (01) 837 9441
Grape Spy by Jean Smullen
2014 Carmen Wave Sauvignon Blanc €9.99
If you are looking for a FAB SB, this summer look Chile for value. Carmen Wave is a wine partner at the Volvo Regatta in Dun Laoghaire from July 9 -12. This is a classy wine with lovely asparagus aromas and lime flavours backed by a subtle mineral finish. Great with fish.
For wine events see www. jeansmullen.com