Simplicity. Confidence. Control.
Bastible, Barry Fitzgerald’s new restaurant, at Leonard’s Corner on the South Circular Road in Dublin, shows the 2015 Dublin restaurant zeitgeist at its zen-like zenith. Even in its first week of proper business, after several days of family-and-friends test runs, Bastible purrs like the big cat it is going to be. The team are so confident, and they exercise such control over what they are doing, that this new kid makes other city restaurants seem frantic by comparison.
Mind you, it was us who were frantic, when we arrived, having driven 350 kilometres to Dublin and then walked the last two kilometres in a biblical-scripted deluge to get to Leonard’s Corner. But you need only step into the lean room to enter a zen-like space, all cool sounds and calm action. The trio of chefs work in a small open kitchen behind a service counter – no standard issue kitchen pass here – plating the daily offering of three starters, three mains and three desserts with a cheeseboard that offers a single cheese – Cashel Blue, Mossfield – with rye bread and apple cider cheese.
The menus read very modish – there is black garlic, there is smoked ricotta, there is salt-baked kohlrabi, there are chicken skins – but one bite of those devilled chicken skins, or the stunning smoked cod roe served with grilled bread, shows a team who already have their own script perfected, not least with a broccoli and Crozier Blue croquette which, we can predict with certainty, will inspire a revolution amongst the good people of Dublin 8 if they ever threaten to take it off the menu.
Mr Fitzgerald likes to make simple things special. The guy who made lamb necks the must-have Dublin dish when he cooked in Etto has now switched his gaze to roasted squash, and sea beet, and Brussels sprouts and lemon custard. He uses his culinary techniques to amplify flavours, but the Bastible way is not to front-load technique, as so many Dublin chefs do. Instead, Fitzgerald takes impeccable ingredients – you should just taste the feather blade he sources from Rick Higgins of Sutton, one of the most creative butchers in the county – and summons their inherent sweetness, or their depth of umami, or their bitterness. In doing this, he shows food at its most profound, he plates things that you think you know – raw scallops with chilli oil; roasted beets – and he shows you that you scarcely know them at all. That is a mighty thing to do, and it means you await each successive dish with anticipation, to see how the team are going to riff on wild duck with pickled quince, or mackerel with jerusalem artichokes, or floating island with rhubarb.
The good news is that it isn’t entirely perfect. One of our servers managed to do everything wrong, from greeting to goodbye. Apart from that, Bastible is the hottest ticket in town.
Leonard’s Corner, 111 South Circular Road, Dublin 8 bastible.com