Library Street Restaurant offers appropriate cuisine in a relaxed environment
It has been a tough year for restaurants and chefs, but luckily they are resilient and creative so don’t despair, I foresee some exciting times ahead.
Take Kevin Burke, former chef at Michelin-starred restaurant ‘Ninth’ in London who has just taken over Allta’s former restaurant off Nassau St in Dublin. serious thought went into everything.
Take the wine list which is in the very capable hands of Ann-Marie Duignan – it’s only two pages long, but it’s one of the most eclectic creative lists I’ve seen. Anne-Marie suggested that we start with Ami Bourgogne Aligoté (€ 13 a glass) the other creamy and oily white grape from Burgundy that is experiencing a bit of a renaissance – it was the perfect match for us and for first courses.
A crispy chicken wing (€ 6) seems innocent enough, but it was stuffed with chicken mousse, chanterelles, candied shallots, then breaded and fried. The crispy exterior contrasted nicely with the rich topping and was offset by the acidity of the tarragon mayonnaise and of course our aligoté. The Marinated Peppers (€ 4.50) were embellished with a spicy salsa verde and once again the good old Aligoté did well.
The crispy sourdough of Abernathy’s butter toast was used to wipe off our plates and soaked in the Risotto Delica Pumpkin (€ 12.50). Almost all Irish diners and half of Northern Italy love their risotto exactly as it came, tangy, rich, creamy and full of flavor. I also loved the flavors, the rich pumpkin contrasted with hazelnut seeds and complemented with fried sage leaves – the engineer almost literally lapped it up. What I liked least was the texture, it was just too soft for me – I’m in the minority who like my “all-onda” (like a wave) risotto where the grains of rice stand up plump, stiff and proud and have a noticeable bite.
The bitter radicchio and endive leaves had been brilliantly offset by slices of sweet fermented pear, crunchy nuts and Velvet Cloud sheep cheese and wrapped in a punchy sheep yogurt dressing – the mismatches and harmonies of flavors. bitter, sour, salty and sweet were like a symphony, although one with enthusiastic percussion.
Our Alligoté had served us well so far but it was time to move on. The Domaine du Cros ‘Lo Sang del Païs’ (42 €) comes from the small wine region of Aveyron de Marcillac with its blood red soils, rich in iron and its penchant for the obscure Fer Servadou grape. A brave choice for any wine list, but I was delighted to see it as I love its red fruit flavors and elegant mineral core. As it turns out, we visited this winery on a trip to Aveyron about 20 years ago and the wine was only recently imported by the good folks at Neighborhood Wine.
The grilled pork chop (€ 30) had sweet, juicy and meaty pork flavors and a rich gravy complemented by bitter dandelion greens and a perfect chimichurri. Besides, our Romanesco broccoli, apricots and candied cucumbers worked well, but I had the impression that the potato Lyonnaise from Seville had strayed far too far from the classic dish to deserve the name.
The dessert is pleasantly taken seriously like everything else, and our sheep’s milk and cardamom ice cream with clementine sorbet (€ 10) was soft, creamy and tangy at the same time. The Paris-Brest choux pastry (from the name of the cycle race, hence its wheel shape), had been expertly prepared and filled with Guinness whipped cream and offset by yuzu jam and ice cream. espresso – as complex and delicious as it sounds.
Library Street had only rendered about seven favors on the day we visited and my few small concerns above were completely overshadowed by the sheer exuberance and glee found in everything we tasted. It’s okay food in a relaxed environment and just the kind of restaurant everyone wants. Good luck getting a reservation.