I have a list of restaurants I want to visit in Dublin, and also all across Ireland! Further afield too actually: Barcelona, London, Paris, Cape Town, Bruges, Amsterdam, New York, Copenhagen, Singapore, Bangkok...
Some are clearly more achievable than others, so I've taken the (sensible) decision to tackle the home-grown ones first.
One on my list is Bang, located close to St Stephen's Green on Merrion Row, and a recent voucher offer from MenuPages Deals meant that it was a step closer. Happy days!
Ms C and I nabbed a deal for the renowned 5-course tasting menu for 2 people at €69 - half the usual price of €69 each, and so we headed down with empty bellies one Friday evening recently.
We arrived in good time, were shown to our table straight away, and were offered drinks. We went for the recommended accompanying wines for the tasting menu (€29.95 per person), and I'm really glad we did, they turned out to be perfect matches. I've never been one for the whole 'drink this with this, eat that with that' thing, but I have to say I may be starting to convert. These were spot on so maybe there's something in that after all...
Ok so I'm just going to reel off the courses given to us, with a comment on each. Suffice to say this was one of the nicest meals I've eaten in a pretty long time. Apart from my own fantastic cooking of course ahem...
We started with an amuse bouche of soft goat's cheese, topped with beetroot and a few other bits & bobs. Really creamy, not too strong or salty, and a lovely way to get the appetite going. This was served with a glass of prosecco from Valdobbiadene in the Treviso province of Italy.
Next up was the fish course, which was house cured Clare Island salmon, served with avocado, radish, cucumber and a ponzu gel which was just tart enough to cut through the sweetness of the other components. Not a huge serving, very delicate and perfectly balanced. As a cheffy type cook, this played as much to my eyes as my palate, and I was left feeling inspired yet again as to how simple presentation is often the best; a feeling I'm getting a lot when dining out lately, such is the standard of Dublin restaurants these days. The wine here was a crisp Sauvignon Blanc (Blanc/Gros Manseng) from the Cotes de Gascogne region.
Meat was next, and time to start getting full! The menu described the dish as Hereford Beef with local celeriac, crispy onion, watercress and horseradish potato. Sounds nice enough, sure, but what Bang fail to mention on the menu is that the beef is slow cooked for around 14 hours. A small detail? I think not. Jeepers creepers, what a piece of meat; I couldn't stop smiling when I tried to cut into it and it just fell apart, and then actually tasting it... I'm drooling just thinking about it! So moist and full of flavour, and coupled with the creamy horseradish mash, a real delight. This was just a fantastic plate of food. Wine with the meat was a lovely full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux.
Cheeses followed, a hard and a soft (these can vary depending on when you're in), and they were served simply with biscuits, grapes and a fantastic truffled honey. The honey was amazing; I don't know what they did to it but I've never tasted anything so, erm, honey-ey! Absolutely ridiculous. The cheese course came with a lighter red, a Malbec from Argentina.
Finally it was dessert time, and although we'd already eaten four indulgent courses, we were eager to finish off with something just as nice as the previous dishes; expectations were high! Pud came in the form of a chocolate bar, accompanied by mango gel and a mango sorbet. Rich dark chocolate - not too bitter - and the sharpness of the fresh mango, this is a dessert to go on anyone's bucket list I reckon. The final wine was a sweet fruity red dessert wine, almost another part of the dish itself, so yet again a great match.
Service was impeccable throughout, with each dish and wine described in detail to us by the attentive staff. In short this was a great foody night out. Perfect food expertly presented and very well thought out, with each course complimenting the overall menu as a whole.
Now look, I realise €100 a head is a bit on the steep side for most pockets (mine included), but I feel it's worth it, and definitely a place to be recommended for a very special occasion. Or do as I did and keep your eyes peeled for the voucher offer - if you're into your food you won't regret it.