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Three years in and John and Sandy Wyer’s Forest Avenue remains right at the bleeding edge of Irish cooking, says Sally McKenna

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Despite being three years old, Forest Avenue hasn’t lost its sense of newness, hasn’t lost that frisson that gives a feeling of excitement when you visit. And explaining that frisson is easy: it comes straight from the sense of inextinguishable passion exuding from John and Sandy Wyer.

FA is an elemental, tactile space, where everything feels logical and fresh. Textures come from bare wood, leather, ceramics, linen, steel. And both texture and flavour come from Mr Wyer’s rudimental ingredients: black cabbage, celeriac, figs, cheddar custard, piccalilli, heritage carrots, lamb rump.
Looking back at the notes I scribbled on the menu, I read and remember “cauliflower purée…. soooo creamy; roasted carrot….. sooo sweet”. But looking further back, to our review the year the restaurant opened, I can sense Forest Avenue has journeyed, has developed.
The ingredients for our most recent lunch were simpler – that roasted carrot; a braised leek; a stunning cheese course of nothing more than Galway Goat’s cheese, with the most unfathomably apple apple purée (John Wyer understands how to make a purée make a statement) and some candied walnuts drizzled in honey. So simple, served with branches of crunchy crackers, and oh so unforgettable.
After three years, Mr Wyer’s kitchen sources simpler ingredients, but uses them to make bolder statements. Plates are assembled to express texture - always creamy, crunchy, and chewy – and with an arc of tastes: ash-burnt, pickled-sour, confit-sweet. Where the elements of a dish are unusual – rosehip poached quince; a ginger financier (a light almond cake); whey butter (made from cheese whey) – they are still part of the canon of taste that make this food so logical and local.
John Wyer stands at the pass, which, in this tiny space, is also actually the kitchen, and assembles plates like some maestro conductor, a culinary Simon Rattle, shaking, carving, pouring, layering - no tweezers here. It may be pretty, but the result is gutsy cooking.
Meanwhile Sandy Wyer - bien dans sa peau - orchestrates the room with sense of calm that can quickly develop into a call to action, leading the crew into a sudden increase in kitchen adrenaline, muttering “Let’s do this!” as a new round of plates get prepared.
It is easy to see why so many people love and respect Forest Avenue. The Wyers are very much at the bleeding edge of the contemporary Dublin restaurant scene, and eating in Forest Avenue is a formidable experience, one that is both grounded and modern.

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