Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Review: A Lunch to Remember in the Samsung Kitchen @ L'Ecrivain

I was recently invited to an exclusive Bloggers’ Lunch in the Michelin starred L’Ecrivain on Baggot Street in Dublin. I have eaten there a number of times but I was delighted to visit again to experience the newly unveiled Samsung Kitchen @ L’Ecrivain. This is a wonderful venue adjacent to the main restaurant which can be booked for private functions and where guests can see for themselves, their meal being cooked by Chef/Proprietor Derry Clarke in the wonderfully sleek and contemporary Samsung kitchen.
Bread Selection
Derry was recently selected as the first ever brand ambassador of Samsung’s home appliances range and it is a role that at 58 years old he has embraced with gusto, acknowledging that he was honoured to have been chosen especially as some people may have expected that a younger ‘trendier’ chef would have been selected. Together with his wife Sallyanne, Derry has over three decades’ experience working in the restaurant industry and it is through their joint efforts that L’Ecrivain, which they opened in 1989, was awarded a Michelin star in 2003 and has retained ever since.
The dining room is spacious and can comfortably sit 20 people at the long, magnificent table.  Sallyanne recommends that at least twelve people dine at any one time as the room is quite large and smaller parties might get lost. The kitchen is located at the far end of the room in full view of diners. As one of Ireland’s top fine-dining restaurants, Derry recognises that L’Ecrivain is quite formal but hopes that eating in the Samsung Kitchen @ L’Ecrivain is a completely different experience with a more relaxed atmosphere.
The intimate nature of the Samsung Kitchen @ L’Ecrivain means that not only do you have the opportunity to watch as the food is prepared but that you also have the chance to ask questions about the ingredients used and the techniques employed to create your meal. For anyone who loves food, this is an experience that is not to be missed and it is fair to say that we were all eagerly looking forward to our lunch.
I vividly remember the wonderful breads that were served during my previous visits to L’Ecrivain and again, at our lunch they didn’t disappoint. The White Bread Rolls, Brown Soda Bread and Foccacia were all delicious and we nibbled away happily as we sipped Prosecco and chatted to each other.
Organic Salmon
First up was an amuse bouche of Beetroot & Whipped Goat’s Cheese which came served with shards of crispy chicken skin, pecan nut crumbs and was garnished with micro-herbs. This was a beautifully presented dish where everything on the plate served to highlight the sweet and earthy flavour of the roasted beetroot and it was a wonderful precursor to the dishes that were to follow.
The next dish of Organic Salmon consisted of Clare Island organic salmon cooked in two different ways, each of which showcased different qualities of the quality fish that was used. The salmon cured in salt, sugar and citrus was outstanding and tasted delicious with the tiny cubes of potato salad and horseradish mayonnaise which accompanied it. Small rings of lightly pickled shallot added piquancy whilst nasturtium leaves imparted a subtle peppery flavour. The other piece of salmon was cooked mi-cuit in a water bath and with a certain amount of drama was smoked under a glass cloche in front of us. I loved the subtle smokiness of the salmon which was succulent to eat and melted in the mouth.
Roast Sirloin of Beef
Roast Sirloin of Beef was another seemingly simple but stunning dish. Here beautifully tender 32-day, dry-aged Angus beef was brined for 24 hours before being pan roasted in beef dripping. It was served with mushroom purée, sautéed ceps and caramelised onions. All too often tender cuts of beef such as fillet and sirloin can be lacking in flavour, but here the meat was treated lovingly and with a real understanding of how to intensify the flavour so that each mouthful was a pure joy to eat.
I loved the pre-dessert which was a modern re-working of a classic Tiramisu. Each flavour element was deconstructed so that chocolate sponge and chocolate shavings sat side by side with coffee mousse and mascarpone cream. This was an elegant and surprisingly light plate of food but it was also self-indulgent and a little bit naughty like all good desserts should be.
A Lemon Tart was our final dish of the day and was a great end to a thoroughly enjoyable meal. I am a big fan of lemon desserts but I am notoriously difficult to please when it comes to lemon tarts! Without a doubt, this was one of the best that I have ever tasted; I loved the silky texture of the perfectly set lemon custard contrasted against the crisp texture of the thin pastry base. Served with toasted meringues, blackberry sorbet, blackberry gel and fresh blackberries, this was a dish where everything was perfectly balanced.
We finished our meal with coffees and a lovely selection of Petits Fours which included a macaron, a raspberry jelly and a tiny choux bun filled with pistachio crème patissière.
Lemon Tart
This was a dining experience with a difference and one that I will remember for a long time. It was fascinating watching Derry ably assisted by Tom Doyle, L’Ecrivain’s Head Chef, prepare our meal in the impressive Samsung kitchen. Service was impeccable as one would expect in a restaurant of this calibre and added to our enjoyment of the meal.
This is a venue and a concept that would be ideal for corporate and private functions or for informal family get-togethers and I would highly recommend it.
Dinner is priced at €85 per person and lunch at €55 per person. Further information about the Samsung Kitchen @L’Ecrivain is available at
109a Baggot Street Lower
Dublin 2
Telephone: 01-6611919

Derry Clarke