Having visited Liath during the summer for lunch (it’s amazing by the way), we decided to take advantage of the double month opening on the 1st of December, for January and February. We managed to book a table for 4, for dinner. The countdown began.
If you haven’t been to Liath (Irish for Grey after it’s owner Damien Grey), it is nestled in the Blackrock Market. It’s got no sign, just black doors. If you don’t look for it, you will miss it. I know that I have walked past in previously, wondering what was behind those doors. The restaurant itself is small, but perfectly formed. It seats about 24 for guests and has one restroom.
Walking into the Blackrock Market at night, is like walking into a secret space that you’re not allowed to tell anyone about. There is now a wine cellar bar, Three Leaves Indian (very good) and a number of other places to eat. It is beautifully lit up with twinkling fairy lights and has a real sense of adventure.
As we finally got to our Wednesday reservation, at 7.30pm, we were very excited. Upon arrival, we knocked and waited to be welcomed in. We were shown to our seats and offered the wine menu (I highly recommend you go all out and go with the wine pairing). Niall (the sommelier) and Eilish (Matre D) are just class acts. They make you feel instantly at home and as if you are one of their old friends from the moment you walk through the door.
Niall is everything you expect a sommelier not to be. He is fun and his passion for wine is so apparent when he describes each glass to you. The notes, the tastes and why he has picked it for each course. He also has a really fun way of making wine sound less pretentious that it can sometimes be. Owner and Head Chef Damien, has assembled a quality team to match his Michelin standards.
We were informed that the meal would be ten courses! Let the fun begin.
First up was an artichoke dish. If this was served in a giant bowl and was five times the size I would be very happy with nothing else. It had textures and flavours that worked in glorious harmony and just left you wanting more, as any first course should. Magic is the only way to describe it.
The second course was all about “flavours of salt“. Here were two courses that made me second guess why we don’t use more salt in our cooking!
The first was Broccoli with Pear and Goats Cheese topped with Broccoli Couscous (who knew). For such a tiny dish it packed a massive punch. Every element worked so well together.
The third course and second of the flavours of salt was called “Lemon“. This was other worldly. My favourite dish. The wine had a hint of salt, which was so interesting, leaving me not knowing what do do only lick my lips and smile.
Next up with the first of the fish courses. Scallops, Pork Belly, Sake and a Sea-Foam. If you like any or all of those ingredients, you are in for a treat. Four tiny mouthfuls and it was gone. Yet again leaving me yearning for more and highly anticipating the next course.
Damien seems to have two signature dishes, and the first of which came next. The Parmesan cone. Well, parmesan, smoked eel and fennel. If you do nothing else, go for this dish. We were given the customary “Don’t Eat the Seed” line, as someone has tried it in the past. We also learned that someone spelled their name on the table in the seeds once. It’s so hard not to love this dish. You could eat ten of them!
Following on from that was a Single Oyster, with Seaweed. This is the ultimate taste of the sea. The exquisite balance of flavour from this little morsel was astounding.
The next dish divided the table, Deer Ravioli. The good news, for this reviewer, was that I was one of the ones that loved it. Game, Bacon, Cep, Truffle and overall amazingness. Everything about this little dish was perfect. Just perfect. My partner is not a fan of game and finds the flavour too strong, so I happily got to indulge in two portions.
We dived back into the sea for our final course from the main dishes, which was Wild Bass. Lightly barbecued over an open flame which ensured it retained its buttery flavour and held its texture. Served on a bed of scallions, topped with a Beurre Blanc and and Caviar. The rich, silky Beurre Blanc and unique saltiness of the Caviar served to intensify the overall luxurious theme of the meal.
The next two courses were the start of the end, sadly. The first of which was a Rhubarb crumble, unlike any I have ever eaten. The meringue was insanely good, filled with a delicious custard and roasted white chocolate. If I was at home, I reckon I would have licked the plate.
The final course were were reliably informed, is another Liath favourite, Chocolate with Raspberries. The chocolate comes in various shapes, sizes and flavours. Dark, milk, white and a crispy one too! Instructions are simple, eat it, enjoy it but eat the white ball last, and in one. This decadent chocolate dessert is amazing (and I’m not a chocolate dessert lover). Following the instructions The white ball was eaten last and in one. Exploding in the mouth, revealing a seductively sweet raspberry centre. A scintillating finish to an outstanding dining experience.
Overall this meal was stunning. The wine pairing is not a must, but we really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it. The place, the staff, the food and overall experience is second to none. It is easy to see how Chef Gray and his amazing team earned themselves the ultimate recognition of the highly acclaimed Michelin Star.
As we left the restaurant, with a little buzz on from the wine, we re-entered the Blackrock Market once again. Strolling through the romantic, fairy light paths topped off our evening perfectly. We walked away excited about our next meal in Liath. The only worry is when will we be able to get another booking. Our smiles still remain, a truly memorable evening.
Review By: Brian Bennett
19a Main Street,
01 212 3676