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Grub Spy: Season’s eating

Alan Kelly dishes the goods on Ireland’s tastiest dining destinations

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The restaurant exterior

The restaurant exterior

Chicken supreme

Chicken supreme

Charred sproutin broccoli

Charred sproutin broccoli

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The restaurant exterior

Every so often I need to remind myself that I am not a food critic – I am a restaurant reviewer: which essentially means offering personal opinions on the whole kit and caboodle, not just the food. Don’t get me wrong, I love food, and I love cooking, and I have nothing but admiration for chefs and restaurant workers in general.

Most if all I just love eating-out and trying different stuff, despite the fact that no restaurant on the planet will ever get every single thing totally right. Kitchen 101 on Terenure Road East, is just such a place.

I have to say it looks great, even on the outside – and inside it feels really welcoming.

Thankfully it is not one of those stuffy off-putting posh gaffs with terrifying prices and incomprehensible menus. There are end-to-end leather banquettes, pastel colours, soft lighting and the requisite open kitchen.

KITCHEN 101
101 Terenure Road East, Terenure, Dublin 6
Three Stars
Food €79; Drink €33.50

With a restrained music system and big windows looking out onto a bustling Saturday evening in Terenure, it feels very chic and very poised.

And then there’s the food. The menu reads so enticingly, it makes us smile. I mean who wouldn’t fancy piquillo peppers with smoked haddock – or what about a 30oz Cote de Boeuf with garlic rosemary potatoes and bearnaise sauce?

My starter of grilled octopus with smoked sweet potato purée looks the business and being super fresh, cooked properly and with an especially flavoursome accompaniment, tastes good too. Regrettably the spicy garlic prawns on sourdough toast are not so good. The freshness can’t argue with, or the cooking. But (to our taste) the prawns are not remotely spicy, there is no discernible taste of garlic or seasoning. The splodge of tomatoey ragù added nothing, except reducing the bread to a gloopy mess.

A fine piece of fresh halibut grilled on the bone is not quite cooked through (again, to our taste). The Boss is so put-off she doesn’t want to send it back and reluctantly abandons ship halfway through. The accompanying braised leeks are quite delicious, as is the shrimp and seaweed butter – but neither can possibly make-up for the fish disappointment.

There is even less of a fanfare for my chicken supreme. It is dry and overcooked, the accompanying fondant potatoes are unyielding and more than just slightly burnt. There is a sauce with cubed chorizo and sweetcorn that is full of flavour and would have worked brilliantly with the chicken if more attention had been paid in that direction – ditto with a fine dollop of cauliflower purée. Lastly there is a side of charred sprouting broccoli with a scattering of ricotta and roasted hazelnuts. It looks great and tastes ok.

Unfortunately, what could have been a fantastic side dish, is cold, and the hazelnuts are not (to my taste) roasted nearly enough, if at all.

The funny thing is, I believe this kitchen can do so much better. Excuses like, the place was jammers or mad busy, cannot be used, since there are only six diners in, and it’s only 6.30pm.

In my opinion they simply need to get their collective finger out and pay more attention to what really matters.

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