47 Patrick Street in Waterford has seen quite a few restaurant iterations over the past three years, and it’s a challenge for any restaurateur to take over a space occupied previously by someone who was doing completely different food to what you might have in mind.
I almost made the mistake of leaving Momo on the long finger, waiting to see would it last, but when I heard encouraging noises from a few different sources I decided it was time to pay a visit.
Boy were those sources bang on the money, because MoMo might just be the most exciting restaurant to open in Waterford City for quite some time.
Harry O'Neill and Kamila Bystrzonowska had been working around the restaurant scene in the city for a few years before they ended up working together in Waterford’s seminal bar, Geoff's on Michael Street. The germ of Momo was probably sown there and, then, the universe intervened and they met chef Ronan Joy, who has worked with Kevin Ahearne in Sage in Midleton. Together this team have applied a single minded focus on sourcing, seasonality and great cooking, and it’s an ethos that will never grow tired.
At a tasting of their new summer menu, we tried a variety of dishes that, despite being described to us as being in ‘test mode’, revealed hardly a weak dish amongst them. A cured beef shortrib had us fighting over the last pieces of delicious meat from the bone. Monkfish was roasted with a dehydrated black olive crust and served on a great tasting bacon and fennel risotto. Another risotto of lemon, mint and garden peas was a burst of summer. Homemade fish fingers were served with Duncannon Smokehouse salmon filled with cream cheese and dill and some Doherty’s smoked cod.
There was a great salad of Ballybeg Greens, crispy shoulder of spring lamb with cumin spiced potatoes, and a lovely vegetarian dish wrapped in leek. A chowder was packed with smoked haddock, monkfish and mussels and served with Sarah Richardson's amazing Seagull Bakery sourdough. Irish chicken was brined in ale and served with carrot purée and brown ale gravy. A polenta cake, however, wasn’t such a success whilst a lemongrass salad with the shortrib was too fragrant and threatened to overpower the meat but, these were the only minor mis-steps. A bowl of lovely chips made with organic Wexford potatoes required great fortitude not to finish every last one. A strawberry Eton mess was yummy, a gluten free brownie and a selection of vegan and paleo ice creams were a revelation.
Extraordinarily, talking to Harry a few days later, he revealed they weren’t happy with many of the dishes and they would be delaying the launch of the new menu while they perfected things, so some of the dishes I have described may not even make it to the final menu. This self-critical rigor, allied to an exciting and exacting approach, shows both great confidence and surety of vision from this team.
The room itself is tough – all hard surfaces and harsh lighting – but my old ‘Field of Dreams’ mantra holds true for Momo: if the food is good enough, people will come. MoMo (the name comes from the family’s pet name for their daughter) is open for lunch and dinner, and you can expect to hear more about this great place.
MoMo, 47 Patrick Street, Waterford 051 581509