Fine French-Irish Cuisine Capable of Transporting You – Dax at Home Review
Translating a restaurant’s experience into an “at home” variant is not without its challenges, but even the most seemingly irreplaceable parts of the journey are, at their very core, expressions of a venue’s ethos and therefore, adaptable to new times and new formats.
Dax at Home, the collection service of the prestigious French-Irish fine dining Dax Restaurant, demonstrates this.
While I wasn’t guided to my table nor handed a menu surrounded by the francophile atmosphere of their venue on Pembroke Street, I was greeted by a clean-looking, easy to navigate website with a modern and intuitive booking system. They even have a digital wine shop with bottles selected and recommended by owner Olivier Meisonnave (although their full list is linked and available for ordering).
Having booked set menus for two and a bottle of Rioja on a very January Friday evening, I was greeted at the door by a member of the staff who had everything ready for me.
While the dishes were artfully laid out inside of the takeaway containers, I decided to re-plate them at home, copying their attention to detail: the gentle surrounding of the duck with jus and fruit, the asymmetric garnishing of the fish starter and so on.
Two things are worth highlighting: There was no cooking needed, and all dishes were at service temperature when collected.
Their menu for Dax at Home is seasonal and it will probably have changed by the time you’re reading this, but even if that’s the case, it can offer a good idea of what their new format is about.
The starters set both the tone and the standard.
One dish featured poached mackerel, razor clams and curry dressings. The play of flavours and textures was powerful but the richness of the fish was nicely complemented by the gentler spice background and the bites of razor clam.
In contrast with the brightness of that starter, the roast duck quince, seeds, walnuts and elderberries offered a deep and earthy assortment. The duck’s crisp skin and tender meat revealed the expertise of an award-winning kitchen -run by chef Graham Neville- and for a moment, it did feel as if we were dining out.
The mains that followed did wonders to prolong that feeling. While differing greatly from one another -one being fish and the other one beef- they both blended the richness and warmth of comfort food, with the accuracy in cooking and the respect for fine ingredients that sets great restaurants appart.
On one plate, we had roast sole, shiitake mushrooms and artichoke sauce. The sauce was creamy but not heavy, the mushrooms provided an unexpected touch of forest in a dish that hailed from the sea. The sole was fresh and firm, enhanced but not overshadowed by its plate companions. I dare say it was the highlight of the meal.
The other main was a braised short rib of beef with crushed swede. This was the reason we took home the bottle of Rioja and how lovely a pair it turned out to be. The meat was so tender and the jus had depth of flavour. All accompaniments supported it without removing protagonism. No gimmicks, no nonsense. Just a generous, big dish, and not only because of the portion size.
A note on the wine. It was a bottle of Marques del Silvo Rioja Crianza 2017 chosen among the recommended options in their online shop. Old vineyards, full-bodied and with plenty of ripe red fruit notes and sweet spices. At €16 the bottle, it also stood out for its exceptional value.
And then it was dessert time. If there are two areas in which the French influence takes the spotlight, these are pâtisserie and cheese. On the sweet side, there was a lemon and kaffir lime meringue pie, on the savoury, a selection of Sheridan’s Cheese with condiments.
The pie was a beauty, with the right balance between tartness and sweetness, a buttery and delicious crust and a neat meringue blanket.
There were five different cheeses on the board, and while I could only make an informed guess on what exactly they were, I wish their specific names would have been listed somewhere. Nevertheless, they offered distinctiveness and variety of styles and textures, a must for any proper cheeseboard.
The bill for our Dax at Home experience came at €112. This included two set menus with a starter, main and dessert each, plus fresh bread and petit fours, and a bottle of Rioja from their online shop.
All in all, our experience with Dax at Home was delightful from start to finish. Great service can take many forms. It can be a glass of water never allowed to empty, it can be a swift waiter approaching one’s table without the need of anything else but eye contact. But it is also a warm and punctual greeting at the door on a cold January evening, a helpful and responsive voice over the phone, and even a user-friendly booking process on a website.
Dax Restaurant / Dax at Home
23 Pembroke Street Upper, Dublin
ARTICLE BY GABY GUEDEZ