By Charlotte Okonji.
Bon Appetit, the first of Oliver Dunne’s acclaimed trio of restaurants, recently launched their new Tapas and Cocktail menu just in time for the party season, and I was lucky enough to sample a taste on what’s offer…
Located in a classically beautiful Georgian Townhouse in Malahide, Bon Appetit has been drawing Dublin’s lovers of fine food out to the North Coast since opening their doors in 2006. Besides the contemporary Irish/European restaurant on the lower ground floor, a cosy Wine and Tapas Bar can be found on the floor above, which is where I found myself seated late last week. With my dining companion running a few minutes late, our charming host Arsene recommended I got the night started with one of the many new additions to the cocktail menu. The Strawberry & Chili Daiquiri sounded to be just the ticket to both chase away the chilly night air, and to ignite that festive feeling that I seemed to be lacking…and it was! Garnished with a whole red chili pepper, it had all the sweetness that you would expect from a Strawberry Daiquiri, but the chili gave it just the right amount of bite. Needless to say, it wasn’t my last one!
As soon Aileen, my lovely companion for the evening arrived, we dived straight into the serious business of trying to figure out what to order, when the menu read like a tapas chef’s dream. Arsene recommended that we chose 3 dishes each, so I plumped for Prawns Sautéed in Garlic, the Homemade Black Pudding, and the Seared Yellow Fish Tuna, while Aileen also chose the Sautéed Prawns, in addition to the Roast Beetroot, Orange and Quinoa Salad and the Italian Burrata with Grilled Focaccia. While we were waiting for the chefs to work their magic, I ordered the Gunpowder Gin Cocktail, while Aileen chose the Passion Fruit Martini. I was presented with a large, fishbowl glass that left me hoping there was a lifeguard on standby in case I fell in, while simultaneously thinking “Now, that’s what I call a cocktail!” As the name suggests, it was potent, delicious and refreshingly tart, but one too many would probably blow your head off!
The tapas itself was equally impressive. The prawns were plump, fresh and juicy, sautéed to perfection in garlic, coriander and a hint of chili. I decided to take a leap out of my comfort zone with my other two choices. While I adore seafood, I generally prefer it to be well done. However, I can only describe the Seared Tuna as impeccable. Browned on the outside, it was a beautiful pink hue on the inside. For me however, the revelation of the night came in the form of the Black Pudding. Once solely a staple of the full Irish breakfast, in recent years it has begun to appear on menus in higher-end restaurants… and I’m usually disappointed: it’s rarely any better what you would produce at home yourself, to cure a Sunday morning hangover. This however, was a treat: a large disc of perfectly seasoned, meaty black pudding, accompanied by a soft poached egg and a dollop of hollandaise. Aileen gave a (figurative) gold medal to the Burrata, which was drizzled with a pomegranate vinaigrette, and served with a generous wedge of fresh focaccia.
Dessert came in the form of three small, but perfectly formed Mini Macaroons, in chocolate, coconut, and pistachio. As a good macaroon should, these literally melted in our mouths. Never having had the pleasure of dining at Bon Appetit before, we were unanimously blown away by the overall experience. The food, the service, the cocktails, the ambiance: all of it left us wanting more.
Now that the festive season is getting into full swing, Bon Appetit are offering 2 for 1 cocktails every night this month; and to help you beat the January blues, all December diners will receive a discounted meal for two in 2017.
For more information see http://bonappetit.ie/ or for bookings and Bon Appetit special offers, see http://www.menupages.ie/Dublin/north_dublin/malahide/bon_appetit_restaurant