Monday, 15 February 2016

Restaurant Review: Bang Restaurant, Merrion Row, Dublin 2

I have passed by Bang Restaurant numerous times but have never actually dined there. Determined to address this situation, I booked a table for an early evening dinner there a couple of weeks ago.

Conveniently located just off St. Stephen’s Green on Merrion Row, Bang opens for lunch and dinner and is one of the city’s most popular restaurants with a loyal clientele many of whom work in the many offices and business nearby. The restaurant is deceptively spacious encompassing a mezzanine area, a downstairs dining room and a separate large ‘events’ space where corporate bookings can be facilitated. Decorated in neutral tones, Bang has a comfortable, contemporary feel. I loved the jazz music playing softly in the background which added to the relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant on the night that I visited.


Tuna
Once seated at our table in the mezzanine area of the restaurant, we considered the different dining options. Three menus are available including Pre-Theatre/Early Evening and A La Carte menus. A 5-course tasting menu is also offered and was the one that we decided to go for. I’m a huge fan of tasting menus despite the fact that there may be limited choice, if any, for each ‘course’. I like that you get to sample a range of dishes as this gives you a greater insight into what the food is really like. Tasting menus tend to contain dishes which the chef has deliberately chosen to showcase his or her cooking talent and as such are often experimental. In practical terms this means that some of the food that you eat may be truly excellent but that also there may be the odd dud dish along the way.

Celeriac, Hazelnut, Apple
Happy to leave ourselves in Head Chef Niall O’Sullivan’s hands, we sat back and nibbled on some very tasty Brown Soda Bread which was served warm from the oven with a generous amount of Irish farmhouse butter on the side. The bread was excellent and it was without hesitation that we accepted a second helping when offered it. For me, the bread served at the beginning of a meal is like a restaurant’s calling card and is a good indication of the quality of the food to come. It’s fair to say that the omens were good after sampling the bread in Bang.

Our meal kicked off with an amuse bouche of Tuna, Cucumber, Avocado which looked absolutely stunning. Despite both being rather hungry, we had to pause and admire the beauty of this dish which consisted of a thin smear of squid ink flavoured purée onto which a slice of tuna had been delicately placed. Sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds, the tuna had been barely seared before it was thinly sliced and presented to us. The fish was full of sweet but almost meaty flavours which were enhanced by the cucumber gel and avocado purée which accompanied it. Slices of lightly pickled cucumber completed the dish.


Duck Confit, Egg, Artichoke
Next up was Celeriac, Kombu Seaweed, Smoked Hazelnut & Apple. This was another wonderfully presented dish which, to look at, was reminiscent of an Impressionist painting. Here paper-thin slices of celeriac were draped like delicate silk over which a few smoked hazelnuts were strewn in a seemingly casual manner. In reality they had been carefully placed so that the dish looked visually balanced. Marble-sized balls of compressed Granny Smith apple added a sharp fruitiness which worked well against the earthy sweetness of the celeriac and the crunch of the smoked hazelnuts. Just before eating, and with a certain amount of pomp and ceremony, our waiter poured a small amount of celeriac ‘consommé’ into the bowl. This had such an intense flavour and really brought the dish together. Slight acidity was provided to the consommé by the addition of the merest amount of vinegar which balanced the dish. This was amazing on every level.

Slow Cooked Pork
The Jerusalem Artichoke, Duck Egg, Confit Duck, Buckwheat dish was another winner and was rich and indulgent to eat. Hidden underneath a light and airy artichoke foam was a perfectly cooked warm but still runny duck egg yolk. As I explored further, piercing the egg yolk to create a rich sauce, I discovered further treasures below in the form of meaty shredded duck confit and some Jerusalem artichoke crisps. This was lovely to eat and we both enjoyed it tremendously.

The Slow Cooked Pork, Onion Risotto, Malted Onion, Cavolo Nero, Onion Ash was a substantial dish but undeterred we also ordered a side of Triple Cooked Chips and Roasted Garlic Aioli to share between us. The pork was wonderfully tender and had been cooked to the point that it literally melted-in-the-mouth. It was unbelievably tasty but for me the standout element of this dish was the risotto which was creamy and packed full of the sweet flavour of onions. The chips were also magnificent with crispy exteriors giving way to soft fluffy centres. We demolished the lot.

Triple Cooked Chips
Dessert consisting of a Dark Chocolate Bar, Passion Fruit Sorbet and Hazelnuts was superb. The so called ‘chocolate bar’ was in fact a cake-like confection made of chocolate ganache sandwiched between layers of the lightest chocolate sponge. It contained a centre of chocolate craquelin which provided pleasing textural contrast. The chocolate used was suitably bitter but the accompanying passion fruit sorbet and gel mitigated this lending the dish the appropriate amount of sweetness and left us both feeling that all was right with the world.

Chocolate Bar, Passion Fruit
Our meal finished with a plate of the most delightful Petits Fours including Elderflower Fudge Chocolate Passion Fruit Ganache on a Cacao Nib Tuile, Raspberry Jelly and a Madeleine with Passion Fruit Curd. Each of these was delicious but the star was definitely the fudge which, having a sweet-tooth, I loved.

I was so impressed by my meal in Bang Restaurant. The food was outstanding and the whole experience was one that I will not forget quickly. Service was exemplary and delivered in a warm and engaging manner. This is a restaurant that I will not pass by again without going in. I loved everything that I ate and was still talking about the meal on my journey home.

The Tasting Menu cost €69 per person with optional matching wines a further €34.95 per person. Our side order of Triple Cooked Chips added €4.95 to our bill.

Bang
11 Merrion Row
Dublin 2

Telephone: 01-4004229