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Restaurant Review - Avalon

Restaurant Review - Avalon

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Opening any new business is difficult and requires courage but opening a new restaurant is like the opening of a theatrical show. You need all your players in place on the first night and if you’re leading man goes down sick, you’d better have a good understudy. This is what happened to Sheeran Wilde on the opening of his new restaurant Avalon in Donnybrook. Wilde is an experienced and accomplished performer having been in the business for a long time. He started as a very young chap threading the boards in the Trocadero, Dublin’s longtime theatrical restaurant, and for the past seven years has been Maitre d’ Sommelier at The Wild Goose in Ranelagh. Eamonn Connors is the chef, who having trialled all the dishes with Wilde pre-opening, had an accident and broke his arm. Connors has worked in a lot of top Dublin restaurants and a very prominent and busy chef jumped into the breach on the first night to help his friends saying he would be back on the Friday and Saturday again – he went home that night, fell over a sofa and broke his foot!
None of this was evident on our visit to Avalon, which is located over Donnybrook Fair. Connors was in the kitchen with a good sous chef. It’s a very large room and this is it’s third incarnation. Whereas it was previously an all day cafe restaurant, Wilde has taken it to another level with elegant contemporary food and top notch experienced waiting staff, serving dinner Tuesday to Saturday and lunch Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Starters (€6-€12) included herb rolled tuna, green horseradish crème fraiche, crispy yucca, cucumber, rice vinegar and coriander cress. Dressed Clogherhead crab was with ‘Granny Smith’, fennel, dill and lemon while crisp sea bream fillet was paired with root cauliflower, potato crisps and vadouvan spices. Apart from the a la carte, there was a good 2/3 course early bird menu at €19/€24 which runs all evening on Tuesdays and from 5.30pm-6.30pm Wednesday to Saturday. As we were there on a Tuesday, Brendan decided to run with that. I kicked off with seared scallops (€12) – a threesome of very good molluscs lined up in a Japanese style broth with a wafer of kohlrabi, pickled Girolles, bacon dashi and seaweed. The flavours were excellent, delicate and subtle and didn’t overpower the scallops. Brendan too enjoyed his square of pork belly in a Chinese style master stock with little squid rolls.
Mains (€18-€32) had stuffed saddle of rabbit, braised leg, grilled broccoli, caramelised carrots, pearl onions and pancetta, as well as slow cooked featherblade of beef in Guinness. Monkfish in a spiced shellfish broth sported clams, gambas, crushed Jerusalem artichoke, streamed greens, orange and tarragon, while a classic French style 8oz fillet of beef was there with shallots, French beans, fries and Bearnaise or peppercorn sauce. They also do a Chateaubriand for two at €60.
Wild halibut (€28) caught my eye. I love this fish and it doesn’t feature very often on menus. A good tranch had the skin well seared, was dressed with samphire, and was sitting on wild mushrooms in a light Yuzo broth with bok choy. From his early bird menu, which also had hake, duck confit, and rump heart (€5 supplement), Brendan had a crispy skinned crown roast chicken supreme with French beans chunky spears of honeyed carrots and parsnips. Both were excellent as was the generous side order of fries (€5).
Puds at €7 included coconut pannacotta with marinated pineapple, while dark chocolate truffle had griottine cherry, and honeycomb. Wilde feigned offence when I asked where his bread and ice-creams came from. Silly me, they are made in-house of course. Nonetheless, we were hard aground and, with a delicious bottle of perfectly chilled Preambule Picpoul de Pinet 2014 from South West France (€29) and large still water (€5), our bill with optional service came to €107.
It was really good to hear the peels of laughter from other tables and, as Wilde said to us, he is there for the long term. 

Above Donnybrook Fair,
89 Morehampton Road,
Dublin 4.
Tel: (01) 614-4849