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Independent November 4th 2003 - Eating Out
Culinary treasure trove that’s simply satisfying
Alan Stanford reviews Daniel’s Restaurant and Wine
I’ve said it before and with luck I’ll be saying
it again. You can find treasure in the most unlikely places.
I was meeting my eldest son Daniel – the one in the
wine trade – for dinner and I had noticed a restaurant
quite near his place of employ by coincidence called Daniel’s.
It’s been there quite a while but never having been
there and noting a recommendation from an old friend, I thought
we’d give it a try.
Just reading the menu posted outside made the mouth water.
It gave the immediate impression that a good cook was in the
The restaurant is situated on an upper floor above a shop,
beside where the old Forum Cinema used to be and almost opposite
Mitchell’s wonderful wine shop. It was a quiet night
so we were given our choice of table and we took one behind
a small screen at the door. The room is not large and is remarkably
simple. The tables are generous in size and are dressed with
linen and glass in some style.
The host and chef is one Daniel Harkin who offers three menu
types. There is an early bird offering two courses plus coffee
at a reasonable €20, a table d’hote offering three
different courses plus coffee at €36.50 and an a la carte
menu, which was the one that focused my attention outside.
This menu offers starters including Mushroom and Fresh Crab
Bake, Chicken Liver and Brandy Pate, Whitebait, Chowder and
on the night we were there Prawn Bisque and all at an average
price of €8. Main courses are divided into fish and meat.
The 10 fish options offer red snapper, three dishes of plaice,
lobster when available, salmon and prawns at an average of
€17.50. The meats include chicken, beef, lamb, duck and
pheasant, when available, and all at an average cost of €19.
Side dishes of vegetables cost a reasonable €3.
The wine list offers a very good selection of the usual suspects
but at a remarkably good price. In other words, host Daniel
is not doing a massive mark-up on his wines and this also
applies to some of the special selection wines at the back
of the list. These are wines that he has personally selected
on his travels and are well worth the extra couple of euro.
As we examined the menu our host/chef called to the table
to tell us the special of the evening which was Monkfish in
a Dill and White Wine Sauce. He also spoke lovingly of the
bisque and Chowder, one of which was nine hours in the making
and the other, a whole 10.
The time had come to order, and Daniel – mine not the
host – went for the Deep Fried Brie with Wild Cherry
Sauce, followed by the Pan Fried Breast of Chicken on a bed
of rice with Cheese, White Wine, Cream and Broccoli Sauce.
I went for the 10-hour Chowder and the Monkfish special wine
list we took a South African Sauvignon Blanc Lanzerac.
The first course took only the deep frying time to arrive,
the chowder being 10 hours cooking already and as a fairly
simple dish the brie was a joy. The batter was light and the
dipping sauce divine. Daniel remarked that I should note that
he was virtually licking the wild cherry dish when the brie
Chowder is often an all embracing term for any kind of rich
fish soup, but if you want to know the true taste of chowder
then you won’t do better than this. Replete with fish
and whole mussels and a richness and taste to die for, this
was a king among chowders. It is also remarkably filling and
indeed cheering on a cold night.
The main dishes took a little while to arrive but were well
worth the wait. Chicken is, to a large extent, chicken in
this country. It’s the most mass produced thing in catering.
More often than not the flavour of the bird will depend on
the cooking and the accompanying sauce. This chicken was well
cooked but the sauce was so rich, so full of flavour and dripping
with vegetables. In a word, good old fashioned creamy rich
cooking and wonderful as you could wish for, if you are not
a weight watcher.
The monkfish was stunning. It’s a meaty fish with a
lovely flavour when not overcooked. This was a very generous
portion cooked to a turn and served in a sauce delicate in
the flavour of the dill. The accompanying vegetables I ordered
were equally well cooked and presented.
The wine proved to be another success with a classic nose
of the Sauvignon Blanc grape, flinty and sharp with the scent
of gooseberry and it had great length. And very good value
indeed at only €21.
We went for the same dessert, the Brown Bread Ice Cream which
was homemade and delightful, a good wind up to some good eating.
It was followed by the only disappointment of the evening,
the weakest coffee imaginable.
Daniels’s Restaurant and Wine Bar is a little gem.
If you like cooking in the old-fashioned sense, where flavour
and portion takes precedence over style and fashion, then
this is the restaurant for you. Our dinner for two with deserts
and wine and without service charge came to €96.00, the
best value for money I’ve had in ages. Make the pilgrimage
to Glasthule and see for yourself.
Daniel’s Restaurant and Wine Bar,
34A Glasthule Road, Sandycove, Co. Dublin
Telephone: 284 1027