Sunday, 23 March 2014

Edelwise Swiss 'Raclette and Fondue' Restaurant, Ranelagh

If it’s true that nine in ten new restaurants close in their first year of opening, the site of the newly opened Edelwise in Ranelagh village really seems to be a case in point. There was a noodle place here for what seemed like just a couple of months and the café before that didn’t seem to last much longer. Edelwise was a first for me, a Swiss "Raclette and Fondue” Restaurant. I think it might also be a first for Dublin?

There was just one other table occupied when we arrived on a Wednesday evening just after 7pm. It’s all about cheese here, with several cheese heavy starters on offer as well as, raclettes (I would later learn what these were), a few main courses such as Chicken Cordon Bleu and fondues. 

The front of house was run by a solitary gentleman who I presumed to be Swiss with the 'new' interior pretty much as I remembered it to be in its former incarnation as the Door 51 Café.  It still gives out much more of a casual dining vibe than that of a fully priced restaurant with the most obvious change I could see the placement of a big vase of fresh tulips on each table.  


I'd honestly never even heard of a raclette before but, since it was a house speciality, we decided to order 2 starter sized ones and see what arrived. (We knew from the menu that it involved cheese but that was all)The maitre d/waiter seemed surprised that we wanted to follow them with fondue deeming this to be “unusual”. I guessed by now that this is because of their similarity. Anyway, lots of cheese was on its way and all was good with the world. 

I went on to learn that a raclette is basically a bowl of hot melted cheese served with with some bits and bobs to dip in it. Ours came with some really lovely bresola, a few tiny pickled onions, gherkins and a bowl of baby potatoes. It was nice and I ate it all, but it really wasn’t something I’d order again. It just wasn't very exciting. 

The fondues struck me as being quite expensive initially,  priced around the 17 – 24e mark (per person) with a 2e supplement added for single portions. Variations included mushroom and tomato with the different flavours accompanied by different things to dip,  including different vegetables, bread and pickles. We went for one portion of the 7 cheese fondue which was just served with bread so we also ordered some gherkins to break things up a bit.One portion turned out to be loads for 2, however.

I hate to say it but it was pretty disappointing. It looked great, a big pot of molten cheese served with lots of cubes of very nice bread but the expected cheesiness....there was none!

I was aware that authentic fondue involved the inclusion of Kirsch (cherry brandy) but Oh my God we could hardly taste the cheese! It wasn't inedible but I kept thinking of those seven lovely cheeses obliterated by too heavy a hand with the old booze. My instinct that this wasn’t how it was meant to be was confirmed I think by the fact that we could hear our host loudly coaching the  chef through the procedure of making each dish step by step, from the little cubby/kitchen. That was pretty off-putting. 

Despite the fact that we didn’t leave a lot of the fondue behind, we were also bemused to get a little lecture before we left on the quality of the 7 cheeses and the restaurants reasoning for charging so much!  I'll admit I was a coward, and didn't tell him that we could hardly taste these cheese partially because I wasn't totally sure if that was how it was ‘meant to be’ .

I did like some elements of this restaurant and will probably give it another whirl in a few months when the new owners have 'settled in' a bit more. 

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Chophouse, Dublin 4

The steak chips and bernáise sauce taster I had from The Chophouse at last year's Taste of Dublin event in the Iveagh Gardens was the best thing I tried on that pretty underwhelming day.  For me, it was perfect, big handcut chips cooked in what tasted like beef fat, a fantastic little piece of fillet and probably the nicest bernáise sauce I had ever eaten.  
I immediately vowed to visit the restaurant but didn't get around to it until Christmas when, though I enjoyed my lunch, the (ribeye) steak I was served was overcooked and a world apart from the beaut above. However, I put that down to the Christmas rush/ lower lunchtime prices and vowed to return for the full evening experience as soon as I could.
My birthday last month seemed the ideal opportunity and so we made our way into the bowels of leafy Dublin 4 once again with our hopes still high.  It was a Sunday evening when we visited and the restaurant was very quiet with just a few tables occupied. (We had been warned that it actually closes at 8pm on Sundays and so decided to book for 6pm). My fishcake (above) was a little on the bland side but was crammed with fish (mainly salmon I think).

We both went for the special of the evening, a fillet served with a pulled pork topping. This was brought to the table with the pronouncement that we should get ready to enjoy the best steak of our life or words to that effect. Even if it had turned out to be the case, I found this attitude quite offputting; given that it didn't, it was even more so.

The dish wasn't a disaster or anything like it. The pulled pork was absolutely gorgeous and the celeriac puree super rich and moreish. However, the plate was cold and, more importantly, the steak wasn't great . It was soft to cut and cooked as I asked (medium) but if I had closed my eyes I would have sworn I was eating liver, so strong and metallic was the taste.

I happen to quite like liver so I could at least eat mine but K loathes it and abandoned his after a couple of bites declaring it 'disgusting'. I have purchased fillet steaks before that had a similar liverish quality but never as strong as this. I don't even know how this can possibly be detected before cooking but, overall, on the strength of my two visits here, this place is absolutely not serving the best steak in Dublin.

The chips too were poor relations of the ones in the top photo. They were much thinner and, I woud guess, cooked in oil not animal fat, lacking that lovely savoury flavour.We left before dessert, pretty disappointed.

On the strength of what I ate last summer, The Chophouse is or at least has been capable of great things.But it's not maintaining those standards.