After a rave recommendation from my brother (who doesn’t rave about much except Munster rugby and ’80s TV shows like The Crystal Maze and Challenge Anneka), I made a reservation at The Pig’s Ear for a mid-week dinner.
Situated on Nassau Street between the Kilkenny Design Centre and Club Nassau, “home of the slow set”, the only evidence of the restaurant at street-level is a black door with a little pink awning over it.
The entrance stairs are dark and narrow but lead to a bright, airy and light-filled dining room on the first floor. My guest, the White Witch was running late, which gave me ample time to take in the surroundings. The dining room was small enough, with about 15 tables, all occupied with a mix of tourists and chi-chi locals. The décor was minimal – black and white except for the hot pink leather menus and brightly-coloured ceramic pigs behind the bar counter.
I sipped the cocktail of the day – a fresh Raspberry Rossini – and perused the menu. The White Witch finally arrived, more than fashionably late. A problem with a pussycat, don’t you know!
We shared the Earl Grey Tea Cured Salmon to start, a small plate packed full of flavours. Served with cucumber and apple and Cuinneog farm buttermilk curd, dillisk and dill oil, the salmon had a subtle hint of bergamont on the mouth and nose, counterbalanced by the tartness of the apple and moistness of the cucumber. The dilisk added a pleasant crunchiness, making this a refreshing dish.
The service was at a pleasant pace, with the mains arriving about 20 minutes later, giving plenty of time for chats and a glass of the Wild Pig Sauvignon Blanc (the wine menu is ample, well-curated and worth taking the time read). I had chosen the Thyme-roasted Chicken on my brother’s recommendation, served with Butter Roast Potatoes, Sweetcorn, Truffles and Toasted Hazelnuts. Contrary to my brother’s enthusiasm, the dish was bland and insipid, both to the eyes and the taste buds. The chicken was moist but had no hint of being roasted with thyme. The hazelnuts weren’t toasted. It was well-cooked and edible but a disappointment after the starter, which had been bursting with flavours.
The White Witch fared a little better with her Organic Spelt Pearl and Beetroot Risotto – an explosion of deep burgundy rice served in a Le Creuset pan and sprinkled with crisp fennel salad and toasted pine nuts. Sweet, earthy and stimulating, it is a perfectly rounded dish.
We choose liquid desert in the form of Bailey’s Coffees and were taken by surprise when a full bag of Siúcra arrived on the table. We were still debating the etiquette of a bag of sugar long after the creamy Bailey’s goodness had been finished. More hipster than bib gourmand dining, we decided. It was a pleasant night out, but I’ll be taking my brother’s gourmet ravings with a pinch of salt in future. Our bill came to €100, including tip.
The Pig’s Ear, 4 Nassau St, Dublin 2 (01) 670 3865, www.thepigsear.com, @thepigsear
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