My husband and I ate here last Friday night, having made the reservation 4 months ago. It was a special occasion, so we were really looking forward to it, but unfortunately we were left a little disappointed by both the food and service.
We started off the evening with a drink in the bar which was lovely, the bar man was charming, and it was nice to listen to the pianist as we looked through the menu. We were then brought upstairs to our table. We were seated on the mezzanine level, which I much prefer to the main room; however our table was seated right beside the area where the waiting staff came to get menus and cutlery, so we felt a bit disturbed by this, as cutlery was dropped a few times. I guess even when you book four months in advance it doesn’t guarantee one of the better tables! However, the restaurant wasn’t full on this Friday night. When we sat down we had to wait a few minutes for menus to be brought to us again and our order to be taken. Now while this isn’t a huge problem as we didn’t want to be rushed and were quite happy to take our time, but we actually felt that they may have forgotten about us as it took so long. We had also already ordered our wine in the bar and were told that it would be ready for us when we got to our table. Our waitress was lovely, very friendly and checked on us plenty throughout the meal, without being overbearing.
The food was good, but definitely not as good as expected. This was our first time in a 1 star restaurant, having eaten in 2 star Patrick Guilbauds recently. I didn’t expect there to be such a huge difference between 1 & 2 star restaurants. I also felt that I have eaten in other un-starred restaurants much better than l’Ecrivain (e.g. James St. South in Belfast, or Volt in Berlin).
The breads provided were delicious, no complaints there. While the menu sounded delicious, the food didn’t live up to it. My husband had hake to start which was beautifully cooked, but totally overpowered with the over pickled olive tapenade. I had the pigeon, which was cold (well room temp maybe) and came with a quails egg that was cold too. I couldn’t eat the cold stringy skin on the pigeon breast either. However the hazelnut puree was absolutely delicious. Maybe the dish was supposed to be cold, but I would have preferred it warm at least, maybe I should have asked our waitress. There was also a bit of confusion with the waiting staff as they brought us another tables mains by mistake at first. They apologised and there was no harm done, but not exactly Michelin star service.
For mains I had the nicest piece of monkfish I’ve ever tasted, beautifully cooked, however I didn’t enjoy the other things it came with, and didn’t eat them as everything was overpowered by a very tangy, vinegary mayonnaise like puree. My husband had lamb, which itself was delicious, but the accompanying things were just too bland (parsnip puree) or overpowering.
We decided to go for dessert which was by far the least impressive dish. I went with coconut meringue and exotic fruit. It was ok, the meringue was nicely flavoured with coconut, but the cream was too thick for my taste and the fruit and jelly just didn’t have enough flavour. My husband had his favourite, lemon tart which was too bitter.
The highlight of the meal, was the sorbet between starter and main. It was lime, cucumber and chili flavoured and it was so good! In fact a bowl of that for dessert would have been perfect!
The wine we chose was from the more affordable sommelier selection, but it was a very good wine. So even though the wines start at around €40 a bottle, I think you can be guaranteed that they are all good wines. Portions are also quite generous, especially the starters.
We were a little surprised that 12.5% service charge was automatically added, and we felt a little awkward when paying as the lady (maybe the sommelier, as she took our wine order) who brought us the card machine didn’t ask us how our meal was, and said nothing and just stood in silence as we paid!
Something tells me that this isn’t normal for l’Ecrivain though, so maybe in a year or so, I’ll give it another go, and hopefully I’ll be impressed next time.
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