Reuven Diaz, the chef-proprietor of Drogheda's Eastern Seaboard, makes a mean monkfish taco. And he makes a killer pork belly cos lettuce wrap.
To both these dishes, usually done so poorly and clumsily in Ireland, he brings precision, respect, and the sure touch of a chef who understands Mexican cooking and Asian cooking implicitly. Mr Diaz makes each little parcel of food delicious, and he makes it delicious with every bite, offering colour, contrast, sweetness and umami, freshness and funkyness, all in a tiny handful of food.
What's his secret? Look carefully at that salsa with the taco, for example, and the fact that every shard of tomato, cucumber, red onion, chilli and mango is cut to exactly the same, tiny size, and you know immediately why the dish works so well: the devil is in the detail. The vigour and clarity of the cooking, and the respect that Mr Diaz has for his ingredients and his creations, explains why the Eastern Seaboard is an east coast phenomenon, serving hundreds of people at weekend nights. But it's not just the tacos and the lettuce wraps that are so good: eating here over the last several years we have never had even an ordinary dish and everything we have eaten, from the simplest bowl of corn soup with crab meat to the ES burger, show that the team manage enormous consistency as well as a furious creativity.
The staff are funky as all get out, the room is great both for lunch and dinner, and Mr Diaz is a man having a very, very good moment.