Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review of Milano

Type: Italian
Price: ***
Service: **
Mmm Rating: 3.0
Bucket List: Nope

I was fortunate to be taken out to lunch today (Sunday the 12th December) to Milano’s on Baggot Street Bridge by the Maher Family (Cheers Mando and Briany). There were six of us and we arrived with no reservation - no problem. The restaurant was busy per se with 4-5 tables on the ground floor. We were seated and presented with the menus. After about five minutes our waitress came back and took our food and drink orders. We waited until just before the starters arrived before we were given our drinks (15 minutes).

I ordered the Bruschetta Originale “Milano” which has simply delicious. The tomatoes were juicy and finely chopped topped with red onion and garlic-drizzled with olive oil and pesto. A simple combination that worked very well. Jack got the Dough Balls “Milano”, and described them as deceiving in their appearance with a lack luster presentation....however the taste MORE than makes up for this. The garlic butter is rich and flavorsome.

I ordered the IL Padrino Pizza (Classic Base)- “torn chicken breast, rustica tomatoes and char grilled Italian vegetables, on a rich sauce of tomato and pesto”- which I have to say was very good. The vegetables were sweet and textured and the chicken was tough (in a good way-imagine roast chicken sandwiches the next day)

Jack got “The American”- and as he describes it-Ronsealed It. Pepperoni Pizza on a thin base. Criticisms- Base too thin ant Pepperoni to sparse, a pizza hit very much by the recession- less dough for the base and less toppings....for the top. Could have been better.

Skipped Desserts- We got an Americano and a Cappuccino to top off our lunch.

Overall the food was fresh, cooked well and reasonably priced. Service was very sluggish though. Our lunch lasted over two hours with no dessert.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review of KOH Restaurant

Review of KOH
Location: Italian Quarter, Dublin City
Type: Modern Thai/ Asian Cuisine
Price: ***
Service: ****
Mmm Rating: 4.0

Bucket List: Nope

Another family occasion brought us out for dinner tonight (6th December) to the acclaimed KOH restaurant recommended by the mammy and a few mates. Having heard that they do some pretty cool deals around rugby matches (curry and a pint for €10!) we decided to treat ourselves to a private booth for a family of early birds or pre-theatre folk as some might say. The private room, which was separate from the main eating area in the restaurant, gave rise to an exclusive dining experience.

First Impressions:
It was a cold and gloomy evening outside but warm and welcoming inside KOH. The rich red hue of the decor was dark and slightly overpowering. It was quiet, probably down to the fact that we arrived just before 5pm, but we were warmly welcomed by a gentleman in ordinary clothes (presumably the owner). Before we ordered food we got some cosmopolitans, a Jameson and some Samuel Adams (nice to see this available!) and we were also presented with TWO bowls of prawn crackers with sweet chilli dip. 

Matt, Ev and Sophie ordered the mixed Satay which consisted of three meat skewers, chicken, pork and beef with a very nice Satay sauce. The meat on all three was tender and soft.  They were really nice - almost 5/5 - except that sometimes it’s hard to eat the middle of a skewer and you have to kind of momentarily sword-swallow the skewer!

Dave the Rave got the Peking Duck Pancakes, which came with loads of pancakes, unlike most places where only the bare minimum of pancakes would be supplied. His only complaint was that the cucumber that accompanied the dish was sliced too thickly for a delicate little morsel of a pancake.

Mary got the Betel Leaves with sticky pork and ginger- they were yummy, very spicy but again plentiful. We also got an extra starter to share between the table:  Baby Back Ribs, which were falling off the bone- very sweet and succulent, with a tasty sauce.

Main Courses:
Ev got the Pad Thai with Chicken which was “delicious.”  It was served with the bean sprouts, ground peanuts and lime segments on the side so you could add them as necessary. Very tasty, she could not fault the dish.  The portion was so big she couldn’t finish it!

Matt got the Yellow Prawn Curry- excellent dish, containing lots of LARGE prawns, perfectly spiced and portioned. No complaints!

Sophie got the Massaman Lamb Curry which was smooth and rich. We all dipped in at some point and sampled this one!

Dave got the Beef Ginger, which again was zesty and tender- Dave would have preferred it to be a little more gingery though.

Mary got the Jungle Curry Roast Duck, which was the poorest of all the mains. There was a lot of skin from the duck and not enough good meat in the dish. She stated that she had to fish around to find the edible bits and viewed it as unappetising. The lucky table also got an extra main course, a thai green curry with chicken, which was beautifully creamy and spicy.

Matt and Dave got the Passion Fruit and Mango SoufflĂ©: portions were generous, and the fruity dessert was light and refreshing.  Sophie commented on how it reminded her of a Solero which was a worthy comparison!

Ev and Mary got the Sticky Toffee Pudding, which both agreed was a little dry. There could also have been more toffee sauce, but the accompanying vanilla ice cream was lovely.

Sophie got the White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake which again we all sampled (sorry Soph) - a great dessert with subtle flavours. I (Matt) thought that it was possibly a little too cheesy in comparison to other cheesecakes I’ve eaten – Ev and I are big cheesecake fans!

All agreed that we had enjoyed an excellent dining experience. The bill wasn’t exceptionally cheap, but this due to the alcohol and the extra table portion ordered rather than the price of the food itself.  All in all, KOH offers good value, quality food in the heart of the city. Definitely one worthy of a return trip!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Review of Butt Mullins
Location:         Naas, Co Kildare
Type:               Traditional / European
Price:               *
Service:           ****
Bucket List:      Yes - everyone should experience this once, even if is just to see what you can get for €15!!
Mmm rating:  3.5

Butt Mullins is a long-established restaurant in our hometown of Naas.  It has recently received a lot of attention due to its €15 Early Bird Menu, running until 7pm on weekdays.  For €15, one is served 3 courses – a bargain, indeed!  Matt and I dined in Butt Mullins in early December with my parents (Cora and Willie) and sister (Sarah) and here is what we discovered...

First Impressions:
The atmosphere on entering the restaurant was lovely: because of the time of year, the eatery was adorned with Christmas decorations, which is always heart-warming.  Contemporary music played in the background.  Though the place was quiet when we arrived at 6.30, it soon filled up with people keen to be seated before the Early Bird Menu finished!  The menu consisted of a choice of four starters and six or seven main courses.  The dessert menu was provided after we had finished our mains.
After ordering, our waitress brought us a tray of bread: the crunchy white bread and nutty brown soda bread went down very well between the five of us!

Matt had deep fried mushrooms with garlic mayonnaise for his starter.  There were plenty of mushrooms and he found them juicy, crisp and tasty.  He polished them all off without a problem!  I ordered a chicken and mushroom vol au vent.  The portion was generous, creamy and flavoursome.  Perhaps there could have a bit more chicken in it, though. Cora got vegetable soup to start, as did Sarah.  Sarah’s half-portion was plentiful.  They both found the soup tasty, filling and a perfect winter warmer!  Willie ordered the prawn and scallop ravioli, the seafood served as a mousse inside the pasta.  Like me, my dad rates big portions highly and unfortunately his starter was wasn’t large enough for his liking!  Asked would he order it again, he said no.

Main Courses:
Matt had Chicken Carbonara for his mains.  This was served with two slices of garlic bread.  Tasty, but safe is how Matt described it.  It strayed from the traditional carbonara recipe as it contained peppers.  Nevertheless, this didn’t stop Matt from enjoying his dinner.  Another small point: Matt’s pasta dish didn’t match the dishes which the rest of the table were using – it may sound insignificant to some people but it bothered me a bit!  Cora, Sarah and I all had the roast chicken with traditional stuffing and a leek, cream and bacon sauce.  The dish was presented well, with the chicken served on a bed of mash.  It came with carrots, more mashed potatoes and roasted parsnips.  We all really enjoyed this dish.  The portions were generous (including Sarah’s half-portion), the mash was creamy and the stuffing flavoursome.  Willie ordered the catch of the day which was sea bass wrapped in parma ham.  He commented that it was a bit difficult to eat, though he expected this when he ordered fish!   He enjoyed the dish, but rated it as “a little bland.”

There were four desserts on the Early Bird Menu, but our waitress allowed Willie to order a cheese board from the standard menu.  There was a good selection of cheese and crackers on the cheese board and Willie rated it as the best part of the meal!  Matt ordered the “Red and Passion Cracker” which upon investigation we discovered to be a passion fruit and red berry mousse. Matt thoroughly enjoyed it, describing it as “zingy” and refreshing, which is what Matt looks for in a dessert.  In my opinion, it was probably the nicest out of all the desserts at the table.  Sarah and I returned to our childhood and got ice cream, which came served in tall sundae glasses.  There’s not much that can be said about ice cream: it was nice, but couldn’t compare to the homemade ice cream I ate at Man Friday in Kinsale!  Cora sampled the fresh fruit pavlova for dessert and thought it was delicious.  Tea or coffee was also included in the Early Bird special: this came served with caramelised biscuits, which I always think is a nice touch.

The waitress who served us was efficient and friendly during the course of our meal.  The only minor complaint I had was that our plates were left sitting on the table for a long time after we were finished our starters.  There is a local feel to the restaurant and many of the staff are experienced and long-serving employees of Butt Mullins. 

Willie summed it up when he said that Butt Mullins is homely – in food, in atmosphere and service.  The downside of this is that the Early Bird Menu is a little unimaginative; one wouldn’t be returning week after week to try lots of different things.  Having said this, everyone will find something they like to eat on the menu, which is very safe.  I cannot comment on the standard menu as I didn’t see it, but it would be interesting to see whether this menu is more varied.  For the value alone, this restaurant is a must-try: the total bill for five people eating three courses each was €67.50 (Sarah’s half-portion was charged at exactly half the price) – what a bargain!  For inexpensive food, friendly service and a pleasant atmosphere, Butt Mullins is the place to go.  Just don’t expect to be blown away by creativity or exotic flavours.