Host: Small plates, big ambitions
Choosing what to get in a restaurant is always a painful experience for me. Not that I don’t make the right choices, but I am often frustrated, especially when I can only visit a place once, not to try more than 2 to 3 dishes (to be fair, it can be up to 6 as my meal includes at least a bite of each of Damien’s plates - much to his despair).
Much to my liking, the concept of tapas and sharing plates has been making its way into the Irish food scene, as we recently saw in Clanbrassil House; it seems like a great way to try many different dishes on a menu without going into a food coma and we were delighted to see that Host, the latest opening in Ranelagh, offered a similar concept.
We were delighted to hear about this new exciting opening in our closeby neighbourhood and we took advantage of a rainy weeknight to give it a try. The place has the cool and casual vibe, with an elegant minimalist design. We sat down at one of the tables, while the high stools looked like a nice option for a friends gathering.
The appealing menu offers mostly Italian-inspired plates either as small portions meant to be shared or as full dishes. We ordered five small plates between the two of us and the first one only took minutes to land on our table, after we devoured some lovely bread served with gorgeous olive oil.
The scrumptious burrata, deliciously creamy, was paired with smoked aubergine and charred radicchio, a delightful combination of flavours and textures.
The roast cauliflower was topped with pistachio, yoghurt and a generous amount of herbs, making it a fresh Easter-inspired side, powerful enough to be enjoyed as a main.
The pumpkin cappellacci and sage butter reminded me greatly of the delicious butternut squash and goat's curd ravioli I had in Clanbrassil House, with a slightly creamier sauce and a crunchy nut addition.
Topped with a healthy amount of pecorino shavings, the homemade gnocchi were nicely complemented by the bitterness of the radicchio.
While I am usually not so fond of surf-and-turf kind of dishes, the taglioni with nduja and mussels impressed me with their fantastic richness, balanced spiciness and perfectly cooked pasta. A real treat.
After these five generous hearty plates, we still had a (little) room for more and ordered the dark chocolate tart, a luscious dessert not for the faint-hearted. The incredibly smooth and rich filling, with a deep chocolate taste, was made even more interesting by the addition of an olive oil sauce and the small slice was enough to put a sweet end to this remarkable dinner.
With a couple of glasses of wine, the meal came to 80 euros for two, including tip. While I often complain about the soaring cost of eating out in Dublin, the team behind Host clearly decided to not go down this alley and the value for the meal is probably the best I have had in a long time.
Delighted with our thrilling experience, we can now just hope that the word about Host won't be shared to quickly as we would love to make it our go-to dinner spot. Realistically, there is little chance such fantastic work will go unnoticed in Dublin and the Ranelagh eatery should deservedly become one of the new hotspots in the city.