Autumn is often touted as the best time of year to open a restaurant, but in reality restaurants usually open as soon as they can get the builders out and the gas turned on.
May saw the official opening of Aimsir Restaurant at Cliff at Lyons, and at the time of writing no reviews have been published but the buzz is off the charts. Chef Jordan Bailey (previously chef at three Michelin Star Maemo in Norway) uses solely Irish ingredients (except sugar for now) and is serving a hugely creative 18 course no-choice tasting menu for €105 per person. Chefs from all over the world have made their way to North Kildare to help, while his wife Majken Bech is front of house and creator of homemade juices to expertly match the dishes.
Three highlight dishes from the opening week menu to whet your appetite:
- 64 day aged Dexter beef tartare and smoked eel served in a mini pie made from cured tripe from the same animal
- Three types of raw seafood (shore clams, surf clams and cockles) served with a gooseberry elderflower and smoked rapeseed oil jus
- Achill mountain mutton shoulder with clarified sheep yoghurt, burnt onion and wild garlic
Michelin Bib holder Delahunt on Camden St. opened Franks Wine Bar and Restaurant in mid May. Located in a former butcher (they have retained the sign), Franks is a 20-seater with a communal dining table with a casual menu of snacks, four main courses, a dessert and a cheese plus a large selection of wine by the glass - including ten on tap.
Also newly opened in mid May is Little Mike’s, a sister wine bar to Michaels of Mount Merrion run by Michael’s talented sommelier Talha Pasha. Small plates will be served including the best possible seafood (as at Michaels) plus charcuterie and cheese plates. Biggest treat of all will be the famed Zalto wine glasses – every wine nerd’s favourite glass (also being used at Aimsir and available from Searsons if you are curious). The wine list is packed with classics and if you are not following Gaz and the crew on Twitter you are missing out - @MichaelsCoDub.
Dublin has its first non-alcoholic bar now on Capel St, overseen by the renowned Oisín Davis. The Virgin Mary bar will serve bespoke own high quality drinks and it will be interesting to see how it fares. Cloud Picker micro-coffee roasters has opened on Pearse St offering high quality micro-roast speciality coffee, along with breakfast and lunches with an Eastern European influence - including schnitzels and kielbasa sausage sandwiches.
Due to open on 22nd May is Potager in Skerries in the old Red Bank space; promising fine seafood and meats. The UK ‘Natural Fast-Food’ chain Leon opened its 63rd premises on Crown Alley in Temple Bar on 15th May promising ‘honest, natural food’ with vegan and vegetarian options, mixed in with burgers and chicken nuggets.
On 21st May (all going well) Old Post Office fine-dining Chinese Restaurant will be open on Blackrock Main Street. Expect a solid wine and cocktail list and top-end Chinese fare in the transformed old building. Also due in late May is Chimac on Aungier Street serving Korean fried chicken and craft beer – Korean fried chicken is arguably the most fashionable chicken in the world these days, in case you hadn’t heard.
Meanwhile, old favourites are keeping things fresh and the Monday Wine Club from Fish Shop Benburb Street is warmly recommended, with new wines every week at ridiculously good prices.
In drinks news Teelings is due to launch a new 24 year old single malt; while Walsh Whiskey launched a new core expression of Writers Tears aged in American and French oak barrels separately and then blended, something of a throwback to the whiskey of the 17th-18th century. Meanwhile, Swedish distillery Mackmyra has teamed up with Microsoft and Finnish tech company Fourkind to create a whisky developed entirely through ‘artificial intelligence’ data analysis, due to be launched in the autumn.
The southern hemisphere harvests are over now, and reports are that volume is down but quality is up. South Africa had their smallest harvest in 14 years - but the quality looks promising.
Finally, I warmly recommend Netflix’s new film Wine Country starring Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and May Rudolph – think of it as a sort of women-centered Sideways.