Dundrum Town Centre
Each year there are a few key restaurant openings that are awaited with anticipation, and Ananda at Dundrum Town Centre was one of these. Why would an opening at Dundrum Town Centre fall within this category, I can hear you say, after all its not exactly D2 which Richard Corrigan chose for his Dublin flagship. Well, Ananda has the involvement of another very famous London based chef – the hottest Indian chef this side Mumbai – and very probably that side too! Atul Kochar was the first Indian chef to achieve a Michelin Star whilst he was working at Tamarind Restaurant in London. He moved on to open his own Benares Restaurant in Berkeley Square, which also has a Michelin Star, and is now a very familiar face on our TV screens. Meanwhile in Ireland, Asheesh Dewan was building his Jaipur group of restaurants, now in George’s Street, Malahide, Ongar, Greystones and, one my favourite off duty spots, in Dalkey. Asheesh and Atul have combined forces and talents to open Ananda which will be run by Jaipur Group Executive Head Chef, Sunil Ghai. Sunil Ghai is another extremely talented chef who has won the Best Chef in Leinster title at the Food & Wine Awards. He has an extremely light touch with food and could transform a shark into an exquisite swan on a plate. Ananda is a cocoon hidden away in a manic planet which envelopes you in an opulent world of rich colours and immaculate service and you feel, for a brief time, you have been transported to the warmth of the subcontinent. The centre of the room is filled with rich honey coloured chiffon ‘waterlily’ chandeliers whilst aubergine, lime and cerise velvet upholstery add vibrancy and life. Innovative starters €7.50/€15.50 on our visit were just sublime. We were three, but they brought us two extra starters to try, so we sampled a wonderful cross section. Spice crusted seared scallops were three molluscs, skewered and seared, each sitting on a square of organic polenta, with coriander and cauliflower cream. A duck tasting plate had a terrine like tranch of silky duck confit studded with red shallots glowing like rubies in a crown. A chunk of duck tikka sat on a fashionable ‘smear’ of fig and passion fruit puree alongside a stack of cooling pickled cucumber chips, all drizzled with a translucent orange jelly. Venison chop, standing proud, was infused with flavours of star aniseed, cooked, Chef told us, on a fantastic new Robata flame grill, and served with a rich wild berry chutney, whilst Baingan Bi Katu was an aubergine steak, topped with crisp aubergine chips, and served with a mustard yoghurt. Finally, a lovely light elegant Ananda salad had artichoke hearts, rocket and goats cheese, with kumquat and sweet chilli. Mains generally are €19/€25.50 with lobster in a Goan style sauce available at €34. We had Macher Jhole, a tranch of turbot on the bone, crusted with coriander and black and white sesame seeds, grilled and served with chunks of winter vegetables in a lightly spiced stew. Murgh Firdausi was grilled chicken breast, stuffed with a mousse incorporating rose petal jus and pistachio, sliced into three chunks and arranged in a lavender scented korma – absolutely heavenly. Sigri Ki Pasliyan was lamb chop with fennel and ginger charred on the Robata Grill served with mint pesto, goats cheese and rocket. Puddings are amazing. I had Bibenca, a Goan speciality of gram flour and eggs, but of course it came lavishly topped with a ‘glass’ sail, a caramelised fruit ball, a skewer of seared mango, vibrant red sorbet….and as for the Pineapple tasting plate….. There are always so many interesting things I want to try at Ananda. The wine list is extensive. Ananda means joy or bliss…….and this Ananda is aptly named.