Outstanding Forest Avenue
For the past few months, Forest Avenue has been one of the most talked about restaurants in Dublin. With its sister address Forest and Marcy, it has been on my food bucket list for a while, and I was pretty excited when I finally made a booking for my boyfriend, myself and three friends. Firstly, I appreciated the patience of the person who answered my emails - we had to adjust the booking a few times, and the email responses to my requests were always extremely kind and accommodating.
When we arrived on Sussex Avenue at 1pm this Saturday, the sun was shining over the Grand Canal in Dublin, and we had just enjoyed a lovely walk along its side to whet our appetite.
For once, we didn't go for the tasting menu - which understandably has to be taken by the whole table - but for the three-course menu. Within a few seconds, we were served some dark-crusted chewy bread with house butter - stunning, stunning bread, and spiced flat bread with a homemade ricotta.
To follow up, a Waldorf salad wrapped in celeriac and topped with beef salami, and a tapioca cracker with cep custard, hazelnut and grated foie gras that made me desperate for more. This combination had an unexpected truffle taste, which instantly won me over.
My entree was a fried egg with mushroom, beautifully displayed with seasonal asparagus and charred onions. With a bottle of Corbières from Domaine des 2 Ânes, it was a wonderful opening.
The venison is one of the signature dish in Forest Avenue, and probably for the first time ever, I went for the meat on the menu - lesson learnt from Delahunt ? Beautifully rare, the only way to eat meat from my point of view, today's version was served with mushroom mousse, beetroot jelly, radishes and a jus that begged to be licked off the plate. Will I dare say that we asked for more bread in order to soak up every bit of the sauce - a very bad French habit ? We may have, and totally shamelessly.
Only one person around our table went for the beef ribs and he was just as impressed as the rest of us with our venison. At this time, we have moved on to a Spanish wine, Gotes del Priorat, spicy and strong enough to measure up to these incredibly flavourful dishes.
For dessert, the subtle Galway goat’s milk cheese came with apple puree and candied walnut, proving me once more that Irish cheese is a serious business.
In France, we serve cheese with bread; crackers aren't even an option. I was very skeptical at first, but this way of tasting cheese, adding a touch of sweetness though chutneys and nuts, is gradually winning me over.
The sweet dessert, chocolate mousse with a ginger biscuit and hazelnuts if my memory is right, triggered so many smiles among the table I felt like they were all given gold in a bowl. A few "This is the best thing. EVER." may have even been floated by the enthusiastic crowd.
What we all liked about this place was its casual elegance and the fact that it was absolutely fuss-free. No table cloth, but a bright and refined decor that reminded me a bit of The Clove Club, with a slightly more relaxed yet equally efficient service. After this stunning meal, the chef John Wyer, recognisable with his fine moustache, walked by our table and I couldn't prevent myself - the wine helping - from telling him how impressed I was. Despite the fact that the service wasn't over, he kindly took a couple of minutes to chat with us.
A minor detail I haven't mentioned yet is that this meal was 32 euros. That is right, barely more than what you'd spend on a couple of Domino's pizza on a hangover day. With the wine and the service, we spend a bit more than 50 euros per person. Forest Avenue is without a doubt my new favourite restaurant in Dublin, and I cannot wait to come back for the tasting menu.