For my second food and drink led experience with #AA Foodies I found myself gathered in great company at the bar in Coppinger Row. The restaurant has been awarded two AA Rosettes and we were being treated to a journey in gin and an adventure in food.
Tommy our very capable barman for the night had chosen four gins for us to try out. We had Shortcross Gin which is distilled in Co. Down, Bertha’s Revenge from Co. Cork, Death’s Door from Wisconsin and Saffron Gin from France. Along with a sample of each gin Tommy gave us a little history of the brand and more importantly which tonic or accompaniment went best with it. As an aperitif he whisked up a Bertha’s Revenge with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic garnished with orange peel and fresh coriander. The perfect start to dinner.
The menu listed seven courses in total, but we were also given a surprise eight course which head chef Ed Daly couldn’t resist including. To kick of the food proceedings we were served BBQ oysters with Merquez sausage, spring onion and a drizzle of fresh lemon. I’ve never been a huge fan of oysters I must admit but was more than a little surprised at how delicate and flavoursome I found them. I loved the addition of the Merquez sausage which gave a welcome heat to the dish.
Dish number two for me was a stand out dish. It showcased all that is great about quality Irish ingredients combined to produce an exquisite dish. Fresh plump scallops from Wrights of Marino were the centre piece and rested on succulent pork belly atop a disk of thin puff pastry. The dish was garnished with crisp pancetta and pea to create multiple layers of flavour and texture. It was the kind of dish which reminded me how impressive Irish seafood can be.
Following on from this we delved into a braised duck and Taleggio cheese ravioli. Duck as we all know pairs well with fruit and the Taleggio lent a sweet aroma to it. The duck itself was tender and the accompanying sauce rich in flavour with an almost stew like consistency which I loved.
We headed next to the wilderness with a wild mushroom filo served with grilled asparagus and spring truffle. The pastry was crisp, the mushrooms with a strong earthy flavour that filled the mouth and the asparagus left with a perfect bit of bite. The only drawback to this dish for me was the size. It was a hefty portion amid a large menu, and putting the fork down was very difficult. Yes that is indeed a first world problem I’m describing.
Going off menu our surprise dish was a Moroccan spiced mackerel served with blood orange, mini beets and baby turnips. For me this was another triumph of ingredients combined to create an outstanding dish. The spices infused with the oiliness of the mackerel and the beets and turnips had a smooth sweetness.
The meat dish was roast rump of lamb which was served tender and pink with a thick herb crust. There was little effort required to slice through the buttery flesh. The anchovy beignets were a burst of flavour which filled the mouth and the aubergine caviar a symphony of tastes.
There were not one but two desserts to eat our way through. The first a honey and yogurt semifreddo. It was creamy and light while retaining some texture and served with a beautiful pistachio nut brittle which paired excellently.
The second dessert was a vanilla panna cotta with biscotti and rhubarb. A wonderful creamy delight of a dish which was melt in the mouth perfection from first taste. Some things just go together. This vanilla panna cotta with crisp biscotti is the Cagney and Lacey of the food world; extremely effective with sheer finesse.
Our visit to Coppinger Row was a triumph from start to finish. Given that the restaurant was awarded two rosettes this was certainly not a surprise. The AA Foodies events are open to all with a strong interest in food and drink led experiences. You can keep an eye on their website here for announcements of their next events and of course to keep up to date on what is happening in hotels and restaurants around Ireland. Take a look at the video below from our evening.