Bastible: What great food is all about
I remember a while ago reading an article about the fact that when you are eating out, you should either go for a top-of-the-range experience or opt for a cheap takeaway. The worst experiences are with a middle-range-undefined-have-something-for-everyone kinda place. A good example: Kafka, on Lower Rathmines Road. I didn't get food-poisoned when I went, it filled me up but in no way did I get any satisfaction from my tasteless dinner. For about 20 euros per person for a main and a shared entree, without wine, it is not expensive per se but it does seem like money wasted.
Just like Forest Avenue, Bastible in Dublin 8 is the exception to the no-middle-range rule. A three-course dinner is 38 euros per person and the wine list starts at about 30 euros a bottle. Yet when the bill comes, you feel like it was an absolute bargain.
After a heavenly piece of bread generously buttered and crunchy radishes with herbed whipped cream as an appetiser, my entree was a smoked beetroot, hazelnut butter, pear and young Buck, a new blue cheese in the Stilton style. All the flavours were perfectly balanced, between the sharp sweetness of the beetroot and the pear, the creaminess of the hazelnut butter and the slight tartness of the blue cheese. I was trying so hard to control the "nom nom" noises coming out of my mouth at every bite. It was so, so delicious. My boyfriend's monkfish cheeks and mussel broth got the same kind of reaction. So, so good.
The mains stayed were too, in the same league. My poached brill, roasted cauliflower, leeks and preserved lemon felt incredibly light yet so full of flavours that worked perfectly together. My boyfriend's beef onglet looked beautifully juicy and tender.
At that stage, we were completely won over and couldn't believe it had taken us so long to pay a visit to this amazing restaurant. For dessert, I ordered the pearl barley pudding, rhubarb and salted caramel ice-cream, whose texture was quite similar to tapioca and had the same pleasantly old-school feeling (which I am not sure is the case in Ireland, but in France tapioca is a traditional dessert). My boyfriend's custard tart was a real winner and I am glad he let me try it (which I had to ask rather insistently, he doesn't particularly enjoy the idea of sharing his food). I am a real sucker for flans and this tart had this delicious jelly-like texture that I enjoy in French flans.
As for the service, it was as friendly as you expect from a bistro yet helpful and not uptight in the slightest. And how nice it was to enjoy our dinner in a well-lit place where we could see what we had in our plate! After such a pleasant evening, we cannot wait to come back to try more of what chef Barry Fitzgerald has in store. Bastible embodies exactly what I want right now when I go out for dinner.