Lucinda O’Sullivan: ‘The desserts were a bit of a shocker’ Our critic dines at new D4 wine bar Dorian
New restaurants are like buses — there’s either a dearth or several arrive together. On the week I reviewed Dorian , there were three others touting their wares through ever-positive PR people. Having started in Kildare Street, chefs Niall Davidson and Hugh Higgins went walkabout with their allta concept to the grounds of lofty Slane Castle .
Now, they’ve returned to the big smoke with allta Winter House, in a lofty space of another variety — level five of Trinity Street Car Park. They’re serving 12 courses at €95 per person to parties of four minimum. They are to move to a new base in the new year.
Meanwhile, former allta chef Kevin Burke has honed the Setanta Place premises to his taste and relaunched as Library St, focusing on sharing plates. The third opening was Lennan’s Yard by Shane Mitchell of Asador and Prado, set in an old mews on Dawson Street.
Getting back to Dorian, it’s a chic new D4 wine bar with food in what was the legendary Roy Fox fruit and vegetable shop. It’s a collaboration between Matthew Farrell, who founded Diep Le Shaker way back, and his daughter, Samantha; the Power family of Centric Health, and wine man Harshal Shah. So now, as you approach the space, instead of melons and mandarins, you’ll see leggy ladies perching at high tables sipping Prosecco.
Being more likely to fall off these perch-worthy high stools, I headed upstairs to a comfy corner table with friends Diarmuid and Steve.
The food is ‘modern Mediterranean’ with chef Etienne Pittion serving a menu that is mainly charcuterie (€18) and small plates (€14-20), plus a couple of daily mains specials. We were brought an amuse bouche of Gilda — pickled pepper, manzanilla olive and a Cantabrian anchovy and a tasty mushroom crostini.
Eschewing house-cured salmon with dillisk naan bread, we ordered ham hock croquetas (€14), crab (€15) and a jumbo shrimp cocktail (€15). The croquetas were delicious, with a sauce gribiche and a quarter section of 65-degree egg; while the crab was a
lovely light, ethereal dish — wafers of kohlrabi carpaccio floated across the plate, bearing blobs of crab meat which contrasted with pickled cucumber and lemon oil.
The Korean Gangnam shrimp cocktail featured two good-sized king prawns with spiced-up Marie Rose sauce but another prawn or two wouldn’t have gone astray at the price.
Moving on, Diarmuid and Steve ordered the specials — Iberian shoulder of pork and mussels respectively — while I went with another lovely small dish, a sophisticated cauliflower katsu tart (€16) and cheese sauce with new-season autumn truffle, plus a side of patatas bravas (€6).
The Iberian pork wasn’t a success, as it was overdone and tasteless. It was removed without fuss and replaced with an excellent plate of rigatoni ‘Rosa Madre’ all’Amatriciana (€19), for which they didn’t charge.
Steve’s large dish of mussels (€22) didn’t go down well either, being overcooked, rubbery and served in a watery broth. However, it was Dorian’s first night of opening — these things can happen, and so many of the small plates were excellent.
The desserts were a bit of a shocker at a pricey €12 a pop. A ‘celebration of citrus’ had us grimacing at the very sharp acidic flavours of the multi-coloured grapefruit and orange segments with scattered crumbed meringue. They reminded me of the torture of the half grapefruit topped with a cherry proffered as the regular starter at my grand-aunt’s Sunday lunch. However, I loved a Calvados doughnut with salted caramel and stewed apple, which was a smart take on the beignets au pomme which I devour when in Normandy. Was I happy paying €24 for the two desserts? No.
There’s a great wine list — 20 available by the glass from €6; cocktails are €12, with mocktails €10. With a bottle of Alsace Hugel Pinot Blanc Cuvée Les Amours (€39), a glass of 0pc German Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Riesling (€8), and two bottles of water (€7 each), our bill, with service, came to €190.30.
49A Donnybrook Rd,
Tel: (01) 443-9751, dorian.ie