Grub Spy & Grape Spy: Lovely Avenue is right up my street
THE story so far. 2009 and Nick Munier’s Pichet springs forth.
It instantaneously becomes the tastiest thing to happen in Dublin since fried bread.
To this day you still don’t have to sell a child or a vital organ to eat there.
Now I’m checking out what might be the next best thing to happen in Dublin – Avenue by Nick Munier in Temple Bar.
But, I ask myself; will the bold Nick be able to pull it off a second time?
He certainly has a lot to live up to.
‘You’re only as good as the last meal you serve,’ he recently stated, ‘and consistency has to be there.
It’s a hard balance to find.’ And considering the trials and tribulations he’s been through since opening a few weeks back, there may be a few worrisome fears about Avenue finding that balance.
To get there he has added three strings to his new bow – a ground floor ‘casual dining’ restaurant, another auxiliary restaurant on the first floor with a cool Orient Express booth theme – and finally a snazzy cocktail bar down in the basement.
Today I’m at the ground floor locale where I find a lingering ‘Pichet look’.
It’s a relaxing mood of refinement and style that is part of Munier’s DNA.
The sophisticated edge is also reflected in the menus – mackerel sashimi, côte de boeuf, sea bream with fennel and citrus.
There’s even a burger for €25.
I don’t sample it and so I’m not sure if that’s being über sophisticated or just plain chancing-your-arm.
I do try the roasted scallops, they are sweet and delicious, the sauce vierge just so, and a bouquet of olive green pea shoots are scattered to a pretty T. After that some great looking chunks of hanger steak arrives.
They are seared and charred on the right side of heavenly with innards still scarlet with blood. It’s the kind of juice I wouldn’t mind licking off my plate – worth coming for that alone.
Unfortunately, it’s let down by a pepper relish desperately trying to be something it is not i.e., a pepper relish. In fact it tastes of nothing much at all. The fries are close to perfect though, even if they are a tiny touch on the greasy side.
I know that might sound being overly nit-picking but with steak as good as this it’s a shame the co-stars aren’t equally on script.
I have a glass of Cabernet Franc Merlot that, in terms of taste and price, is neither a bargain nor a real winner.
The lemon crème caramel though on a dusting of praline crumbs and a topping of citrusy yuzu-flavoured cream is a surprising rush of gorgeous flavours – a flawless finale in fact.
And so, has Nick got the balance he talked about and do I view his Crow Street venture as his difficult second album, the one that can go either way with the fans? With only a couple of blips and a bill that silently mounts up, I think it’s all perfectly poised and the fans – new and old – will love it.
2013 Campo Viejo Tempranillo, €11.82
The Campo Viejo Tapas Trail returns to Dublin until 28 June, in Cork from 7-22 July, Galway from 26 Aug. to 9 Sept., see www.campoviejotapastrail.ie.
You can sample this on the trail – an unaged Rioja with light fruit flavours, perfect for tapas.