There is not a lot that entices me to go to Temple Bar. The Saturday Market, The Project Arts Centre and the Exchange are about it. Restaurant wise I tend to avoid it though I will make an exception for Skinflint, Il Baccaro and The Port House. Ask me to recommend any others and I would be at a loss (I have yet to visit NEDE though I have heard good things about it). So it was with great anticipation that I paid Cleaver East a visit last week, a new venture by Oliver Dunne and Rory Carville.
The first thing you notice from the outside are the big windows with massive cleavers hanging from the inside. It is a strong focal point and one which will no doubt catch the attention of curious passersby. The interior is a vast open space which is well sectioned out including a sit down bar in the middle and a higher level seating area at one end. We were very pleasantly greeted at the door and promptly shown to a table. We were then asked if we knew the concept behind the restaurant which was described to us as ‘tapas-style dishes’.
Once we had ordered a very palatable white wine, Lionel Osmin - La Reserve 2012, it was onto the hard choice of deciding what to order. We were told that four dishes each, including sweet and savoury, would probably do us. So we decided to get five dishes between us to start with and keep room for dessert. The first dish to arrive at the table was the Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Onion Shells and Black Olive Crumb. This was followed swiftly by the Soft Poached Organic Duck Egg with Ricotta and Hazelnut Mousse and Asparagus and then the Carpaccio of Irish Dexter Beef, Rocket Pesto and 36 Month Reggiano Parmesan. All these dishes were superb with the black olive crumb nudging the heirloom tomato salad out in front. As my friend said she doesn’t like olives but she liked them like that!
|Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Onion Shells and Black Olive Crumb|
|Soft Poached Organic Duck Egg with Ricotta and Hazelnut Mousse and Asparagus|
|Carpaccio of Irish Dexter Beef, Rocket Pesto and 36 Month Reggaino Parmesan|
Then after a substantial wait where we polished off our bottle of wine and moved onto bottle number two, the final two dishes came out. These were the Monkfish with Sweet Piquillo Pepper Puree and Iberico Crumb and BBQ Rare Breed Pork Belly with Apple and Ginger. As with the other two dishes their execution was superb and the creativity in them was wonderful. The standout for me was the Pork Belly which was melt in the mouth and made me wish for a bigger portion of it.
|BBQ Rare Breed Pork Belly with Apple and Ginger|
|Monkfish with Sweet Piquillo Pepper Puree and Iberico Crumb|
We finished off the meal with two desserts and chose the Cleaver East Twisted Banoffee and the Lemon Cannelloni. The Lemon Cannelloni was out of this world and was light, refreshing and very summery. My friend wasn’t too keen on her banoffee as she didn’t realise it had peanuts in it. This was due to not paying careful attention to what all the fiddly dots on the menu meant as we were in full blown gossip mode by then!
There is no doubt that the food here is beautiful. It is superb to look at and a pleasure to eat. It is fun, creative and showcases Irish food in a wonderful way. The only problem I had with the place was that the food was described to us as ‘tapas style’ which left us with certain presumptions. We assumed that the dishes would arrive close enough together and that they would be shareable. The first 3 did and then there was a sizeable gap which made it a bit awkward as I was eating when my friend wasn’t and vice versa. The dishes are also a bit too fiddly to be able to share properly – try sharing a duck egg, it’s not easy! On the Cleaver East website it actually says the concept is Tasting Plates and definitively not tapas style which makes much more sense as it would be much easier to just choose a few dishes and enjoy them yourself. I think they need staff to be very clear on what the restaurant’s concept is otherwise it can led to misconceptions such as ours.
We also had a few staff issues that day firstly with being asked three times by different staff members if we knew the restaurants’ concept even after being told it in the first few minutes of sitting down. There were also a lot of wrong dishes and teas and coffees brought to our table even though there were only three other tables occupied that day. Yet the service was very friendly and it was all done with a smile. Cleaver East were also offering 20% off their bill which I assume is to cover teething problems such as those.
All in all Cleaver East is a welcome new addition to the Irish restaurant scene and given where it is located hopefully many a tourist will go home with a renewed view of what Irish food is all about.
Our meal cost €109.90 which included the 20% discount which is available till the end of August. You can book online for Cleaver East at www.cleavereast.ie. Find them on Facebook here and Twitter here.