It also gives Dubs a chance to coo over an amazing range of eateries without having to tramp all over the shop. I like to think of it as an expression of how well the rest of the city is doing.
The place I decide to try is Amuse, and I have to say if you fancy being knocked for six by a bit of French with a soupçon of genius thrown in, than your search is over. Small and fashionably understated its wares are also announced in a fashionably understated way, which in my experience is always a sign of good things to come.
Things start off well. A board with nice warm crunchy French bread is easily dealt with. It’s so gorgeous I clear the lot. Next there’s the cutest amuse-bouche – a thimble of pea mousse, coconut foam, coconut gel, and sesame seeds (I think) and a pea shoot garnish. It’s like a statement of intent, a sensual aromatic mouthful that leaves me wanting more, precisely what these little nuggets are meant to do.
My fillet of Atlantic cod is absolutely perfect. The crispy seed topping and the mugi miso capped aubergine cube with aromas of barley are real eye-openers – so too are the minute baby turnips, the bok choy with the little dabs of sake dressing and the delicate sesame crisps.
Combined together on a fork it’s an epic taste sensation. This is the genuine article created by culinary aristocrats. Each dish looks like a picture from a glossy magazine dedicated to joy and gluttony. It is becalmed precise cooking that is mindful of what diners want, and more importantly, mindful of how contrasting ingredients work together.
At no point does the kitchen stumble. A dainty apricot dessert is executed with the eye of a true artist. Feather light meringue wafers are broken over pearls of pistachio, droplets of apricot and white chocolate, and hints of orange blossom.
The moment I see it I’m reminded of a child’s secret goodie stash, the moment I taste it I’m reminded of why I love sweet things. I feel like the cat that got the cream.
I look at the other diners around the room. There are not many of us in today. But I know by the concentrated looks and the nodding smiles of satisfaction that all is well at their stations. This is not just a lunch. It is a delightful eating experience, and one that I can’t wait to try again.
I should also mention the service. A French guy and a Spanish gal look after matters with real aplomb. Even though I only had a bottle of sparking water, they serve it like vintage champagne. You would go a long way to find a better pair of professionals.