Words: Shamim de Brún
Images: George Voronov
Hen’s Teeth are as innovative as they are wiley. When you think you have them pegged, boxed and rounded off, they subvert your expectations with a flourish.
Tasting menus have been popping up all over the country, treating food as art, and chefs as artists. It has become part of the culinary culture that encourages innovation. These days Dublin Diners are savvy and in control — they know what they’re getting into when they go for a multi-course feast.
So we had a go at Hen’s Teeth Feed Us tasting menu.
This tasting menu is made for people who want to spend the whole evening together eating like Italians on a Sunday. Without busting your budget here, they deliver a whole heap of dishes to enjoy. Groups will enjoy the thrill of the one dish after another presented in a riveting succession at a leisurely pace. The look and flavour of each fresh course are surprising. As an experience, it’s enjoyable and quite different to any other tasting menu in the city. Slightly more casual and incredibly varied.
The when of a meal can be as important as the what. If you haven’t seen a friend or gotten together as a group in a while, this is your excuse. Tasting menus, by their nature, take a chunk of time to work through. If you’re not into being rushed out after the standard two-hour turn, then you’ll really enjoy working your way through this whole menu at a relaxed pace. Hustle porn loves pressuring us to be busy always. But a long catch up over a meal with friends is a sheer luxury worth bathing in. Throw in a glass of wine and it’s genuinely my idea of heaven.
This menu is a breathtaking exploration of the potential for treating international flavours with a modern Irish sensibility. The meal was kicked off by Padron peppers. A dish that has gone from relative obscurity in Ireland to become a new classic. It was a parade of dishes, all quite different and each with a little something special.
Beef is a diamond glinting in the sand, so it feels cheap to say it was the star of the show, but it was. Decked out with a horseradish and herb emulsion, the beef cheek and short rib were cooked to flavour perfection. It was a much bigger plat than you would expect from a tasting menu which meant you didn’t feel like you weren’t getting enough.
In keeping with the more casual vibe of the place, the tasting menu almost inexplicably comes with sides. So there are baby potatoes cooked in nduja butter that pop off the plate and barbecued chimichurri greens. It’s like having a main course and every starter on the menu. Perfect for an indecisive greedy person like me.
The well put together menu gently unfolds like a meditation. The dishes themselves are subject to change as regularly as the weather in Ireland, but you can rely on the careful attention to detail the chef has here. It’s unlikely you’ll find a bad one under his eye.
This is the most affordable tasting menu in the city, coming in fifty-five euros per person or only forty-five if you go for the veggie option. The wine isn’t quite an ass affordable, but you can’t have everything. Chef Killian has coaxed extra flavour from his ingredients through artistic means such as curing, fermenting, smoking and grilling.
The sea bream ceviche was a cacophony. It tasted like more and would be something to order if you decided to go a la carte. Each dish manages to pack flavour and variety into a focussed and crucially affordable selection while working with many local producers.
Eating in Hen’s Teeth is like eating in a gallery. There’s often different artwork on display and banging tunes pumping at an atmosphere setting level. If you’ve never been before, it is very tucked away in the liberties but what they have done with the space is almost as noteworthy as what they have done with the food.
While I’m reluctant to out myself as a rhubarb sceptic, I am one. I will never, if given a choice, order it for dessert. Here, however, I loved it. Rhubarb with passionfruit and a rice pudding made from paella rice in coconut. Sounds off the wall. Tastes like I’d come back and order it as a treat!
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