Some restaurants in our city stay comfortably the same year on year and that’s the way we like them. I had always put Fade Street’s cool and cosy bistro, L’Gueuleton, in that bracket –that of an old reliable, one in which you’ll never fail to have a glorious meal in great surroundings and even greater ambience. So, on my recent visit I saw that the experience is still as stellar, but there have been some subtle changes, which have, in fact, only served to optimize the offering.
First change is the arrival of new chef, Aoife Barker, who is successfully cooking with Irish and French ingredients but with a slight twist. When I asked her what plans she had afoot, she said, ‘I’m trying to make the bistro classics a bit lighter and more refined – putting a woman’s touch to rustic bistro cooking!’.
Chef Barker uses all local suppliers and mainly Irish produce – always seasonal. She works directly with the suppliers themselves; she gets all her beef from a farm in Roscommon and they cut specific cuts for her. She prefers lesser-used cuts – oxtail, rump cap, beef cheek and skirt steak being among her favourites, as despite being trickier to cook, they are top class cuts full of flavour.
The second change is the terrace makeover, with its pretty awning and comfy seats, thus making this one of the nicest people-spotting spaces in town complete with heaters that actually heat!
So, to the food. I brought my Dad, and together he and I feasted on a mix of hearty, rustic dishes that satisfied on a deep, almost visceral level. The French Onion soup is notoriously (and correctly) the best in Dublin. The chicken liver and foie gras parfait with spiced pear and toasted sour dough strikes the perfect balance of rich flavor and spice and is blended to perfection – pure velvet, melt in the mouth stuff. Not to be missed.
We decided to be led on our wine choices, and the marvellous and charming Shane helped us navigate the wine list. With our starters we drank two glasses of ‘Domain De Thulon’ Beaujolais Blanc 2013, which complemented the richness of the flavours ideally (on a return visit, I had the ‘Villa Huesgen’ Riesling 2013 with the French onion soup and it was a sublime accompaniment!).
Mains consisted of Plaice Fillet with Dublin Bay Prawn Mousse, new potatoes, sprouting broccoli and shellfish sauce for me, which was light and flavourful. My Dad went for the Braised dry aged beef cheek with oxtail croquette, truffle mash and pak choy. This is a great, true-to-from bistro style dish: tender, melty, meaty heaven. A death row meal if there ever was!
Shane expertly paired our mains with the white Alvarinho ‘Pouco Comum’ 2013 for me and the robust red Ribera del Duero ‘Acon” 2012 for my Dad.
The meal finished with a damn near perfect Crème Brulee and a glass each of Pineau des charentes ‘Chateau D’Orignac’. A dessert wine that is brandy based, therefore not overly sweet and served to bust all the myths regarding dessert wine that I previously believed. Sweet, sickly, syrupy? Nope this ain’t that! I am converted.
As Shane jokingly said to me as we left (and to stretch that famous tagline to almost unbearable lengths) ‘Food by L’Gueuleton. Memories. Priceless’. He’s not wrong.
My verdict is simple; if you’ve not been – go. If you have been – go again.