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Restaurant Review - Uno Mas

Restaurant Review - Uno Mas

Wednesday 30 January 2019

There was more excitement and anticipation amongst Dublin’s foodie brigade, about the opening of a small restaurant on Aungier Street, than there ever was about the arrival of The Ivy. With no PR overkill, just a quiet buzz on Instagram, one morning, they scraped a peep-hole through their paper covered window, and, with no sign over the door, tweeted that they were open, and there was a deluge.

Uno Mas may be ‘one more’ small restaurant, but it’s a small restaurant with clout being the sibling of the hot hot Etto on Merrion Row, where Liz Matthews and Simon Barrett, got the combination so right, serving disarmingly simple but sophisticated food with a great selection of wines in a convivial atmosphere. They've an almost groupie following, from chefs to media, politicians and theatricals, all chowing down cheek by jowl – watching and gossiping at a rate not seen since the Unicorn Minor days under the eagle eyes of Miss Dom.

Drinking in the atmosphere
Etto’s younger sibling has the feel of a chic understated urban spot in Madrid – certainly no violent flashy colours are going to assault your senses. From a blackboard touting cocktails (wine licence only), Rena had El Bandarra Vermut Rojo (€7), a vermouth from Catalunya, with lemon and olive, while I had a Negroni Sanlucar (€9) – a blend of Manzanilla mixed with a soft Lacuesta Bianco Vermouth, grapefruit and gentian, as we nibbled on Le Levain bread with olive oil (€2.50) and cecina croqueta – savoury crispy creamy balls (€7).

Fried eggs and mushrooms
We really wanted to try everything. Starters (€9-€13) included potato and onion tortilla; sea-bream, potato, celery and roast garlic; and venison carpaccio with pickled walnut and horseradish. Rena's fine bowl of mussels (€10) was in mojo rojo, a delicious Spanish smoky-paprika flavoured sauce. Morcilla, piquillo pepper and quail egg (€11), for me, was two rounds of Spain's famous blood sausage, or black pudding, on zingy julienned peppers, topped with a brace of fried quail’s eggs. So good.

Four mains (€20-€27) included hake paired with black garlic, rainbow chard and cockles; while suckling pig was with Pink Fir apple potato and parsnip. Mushrooms are having a great revival on menus, but don’t think you can just lash a pile of button mushrooms on toasted sliced pan and they'll look smart! Rena's mushroom main course (€20), with a chestnut and Jerusalem artichoke puree, were a delicious combination of Chanterelles, with their Dali-esque wavy fluid caps and ruffled gill undersides; pied de mouton (sheep's foot), known also as the hedgehog mushrooms for their prickly looking spines; and umami tasting Irish oyster mushrooms, all concealing underneath a slow-cooked egg, which oozed out gently. Octopus (€27) for me was a brace of moderately-sized blackened tendrils – all the better as larger ones can be very tough –their suction pads contrasting with the bubbled texture of crispy kale, kale highlighted with violet garlic aioli. Octopus is served raw in Korea as San-nakji and can move on the plate for an hour which sounds very terrifying because with the still active suction cups on the arm can stick to your throat… Well done, please!

With our mains, we had sides of crispy diced Maris Piper potatoes with rosemary and garlic, and black radish, pomegranate and watercress salad (€4.50 each).

Cheesy moments
Puds (€5-€7) included flan de queso – baked creamy cheese; and Muscovado sugar ice-cream. Rena's glossy dark chocolate (€7) and olive oil ganache number is guaranteed to send chocoholics off their heads, while cheeses at €4 each (great idea) of which I had aged Manchego and Ossau-Iraty, sheep’s milk cheeses from La Mancha and the Northern Basque country, came with membrillo (quince jelly) and toasted oiled Le Levain bread.    

They've wines you won't see anywhere else, with lots and lots under €40. We had a 500ml carafe of a biodynamic, slightly-edgy wine with a fine minerality and dry finish, FP Branco, Bairrada, (€31), by a female Portugueses wine producer Filipa Pato. Our bill with bottled water (€4) and service came to €167.75.

An absolute gem. Maybe they’ll give us uno more...

Uno Mas,
6 Aungier Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: (01) 475-8538

First Published In The Sunday Independent