Otis Redding’s raspy rendition of My Girl is cooing in the background and the temptations abound. There’s a crisp, chilled glass of Saint Veran in front of me and Sunday afternoon has never looked so good, perched happily on a stylish stool in Little Mike’s.
The familiar hum of the fryer, signaling delicious things to come, beckoned us in the door, but a quick sconce on OpenTable ensured we would secure a spot in the recently opened sister restaurant of outrageously popular Michael’s in Mount Merrion.
Only a stone’s throw from the Mothership, Little Mike’s is a passion project headed up by the inimitable duo of Gaz Smith and Talha Pasha, both of whom would struggle to find spare room on their mantlepiece for another award.
Serving small(ish) plates, their signature mammoth seafood platters and an array of delicacies best enjoyed alongside one of their cracking wines, Little Mike’s aims to welcome walk-ins and give those of us without a recurring booking in Michael’s a chance to savour what every Dublin food lover on social media consistently raves about.
My Sommelier dining companion observes that the wine list features hits from all the trendy wine importers in town, from Winemasons to Wine Lab and points to Chateau Montelana from Napa Valley. Perhaps it isn’t a lunchtime wine at €100 – but when I’m back for a celebration, that’s as good a price as will be found in these parts.
The menu makes for a delightful Michael’s spin off – it has some highlights, the platter it is famous for, lashings of lomo on a bountiful charcuterie board, and a couple of delightful departures – tremendously tempting fried gruyere to name but one perfect partner to a casual glass of wine at the counter.
I would have loved a bit of soft shell crab, a rare treat on the Michael’s specials menu, but Prawn Fritti €11 would provide my fried fix here, and with it, the peace of mind of knowing it is a regular fixture in Little Mike’s.
“Its really quite lovely, this prawn”, says my difficult to please dining companion, taking bite, followed by a snap, of the glistening beauty. Faultless cooking made this posh ‘dude food’ done exceptionally well, the embodiment of Gaz’s honest grub mantra. This, with the aforementioned toasty Saint-Veran, Domaine Simonin, was far too easy to devour.
Our second starter of hand cut Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare €12.00 has the most luscious mouthfeel on silky avocado puree, with spikes of sesame. While I would have like a dash more citrus to compete with the rich tuna and creamy avo, we still scooped it all up greedily with playful prawn crackers. A solid start and a fresh contrast to the fabulous filth of the fritti.
While the beauty of Little Mike’s is the fact that you can drop in for a casual grazing cheeseboard and a vino, not one person around us had managed to swerve the temptation of going all in with a Seafood Platter(€34pp) – who were we to deprive ourselves?
Arriving to an almost audible gasp from myself, a treasure trove of petite and sweet Lambay Island crab claws, quite buxom Clogherhead prawns, mussels and two whole fishes (absolutely no need for loaves) landed on the counter, swimmingly happily in a vat of bubbling salted lemon butter and chive.
All this picture of near perfection is missing is a plump lobster tail or two, though our lovely waitress explains Balscadden Bay was unfortunately not so bountiful on the weekend in question, so crispy fried lobster fishcakes added texture and a spike of saffron to the line up.
Ultimate moreish crunch, however, came in the form of golden nugget-like chips, the kind one might seek out as part of their death-row meal. So simple, yet flawless.
Glasses of Amalaya, a jasmine scented Torrentes and Riesling blend, and the perfect acidity of Meinklang Burgenlandweiss provided the perfect foil for the richness of this luxurious Sunday treat – who needs a roast?
Looking back, I’m still not quite sure how we did it, but after a quick breather we managed to polish off a seriously glossy, so smooth it could make you blush, dark and handsome Chocolate Finger dessert and I’m not even sorry. My sole regret was returning to the real world and leaving this little hedonic haven behind.
Abundance is key here, and it carries through from the generous plates to the warmth of the service in this South county Dublin gem. All Little Mike’s is missing is Talha, but am pleased to see he has instilled his approach to offering a thousand welcomes into the new but already seamless service team.
Old school deliciousness is definitely where it’s at in Little Mike’s, and trust me, it’s definitely where you want to be, too.
Our bill for two starters, a seafood platter for two and four wines by the glass came to €138 excluding service.
63 Deerpark Road,
T: 01 212 3725
REVIEW BY DARINA COFFEY