Monday, May 17, 2010

My Foodie Weekend Part 3

We finished the evening on Friday night with a few pints in the pub below the restaurant 'Sky and the Ground' which had a heated beer garden. Here we met some lovely locals and ended the night with a dance off in a night club.

Saturday morning started off nicely with a hearty breakfast at our B & B and we took our time to get into the mood for hitting the shops. Di found some amazing boots and I stop right here with the description of our shopping finds as this is a food blog and not a fashion one.

Shopping does make hungry and by 2pm our breakfast has vanished into distance memory. Walking down the Main Street we found a lovely little cafe called Stable Diet. They had some tables outside and as the sun was shining, we decided that it was time for a cup of tea. Walking into the cafe, we were greeted by a buzzing atmosphere that reminded of cafes in Paris. The display unit showed some lovely handmade pastries and bakes. The floor was checkered and the furniture was dark wood.

As we planned to go our for dinner later on, we decided to have just something small. I opted for the apple crumble tart while Di had a giant scone. My tart was served with jam in the bottom, caramelised apples and a lovely musli crumble topping. It was warmed but not hot which made it perfect to eat. Di's scone was fluffy, light and also warmed. It came with butter, cream and jam.

It was a wonderful afternoon and it took us all strengths to get up again and to return to the B & B where we chilled out. Around 7ish we got peckish again and headed out to explore the part of Wexford that laid left from the B & B. We had the choice of 3 restaurants nearby, Taste, La Dolce Vita and Jaques Wine Bistro in the Greenacres Building. I kinda fancied a bit of Italian food and since La Dolce Vita displayed a lot of plaques, eg. Good Food Ireland, Food & Wine and Euro Toques. As it is dead easy these days to impress me, I thought Euro Toques must be a must to try so we headed into La Dolce Vita. It seems that this restaurant is focused on lunch service rather than dinner service. The premises looked more like a day cafe than an evening restaurant. No candles or deco on the tables. It was 7:30 and a girl was swiping a brush around the tables while some people were actually already eating (call me picky but I really don't like dust in my food). We were seated next to the wine shelve (which needs some dusting if you seat people next to it) and I took the opportunity to have a look through the wines. Impressive selection, all wines were from Italy and had a Barolo, Nebolio. Pinot Grigio and Nero had La Dolce Vita's own label on it which was a lovely touch. The cafe also offered Italian goodies like black pasta, 00 flour and proper truffle oil. The chilling unit displayed buffalo mozzarella, Italian cheeses and several salads.

We were handed our menus and I was impressed that they had proper Italian courses on offer. Risotto of the day as a first course and meat and fish dishes as second course is the proper way of eating Italian food. No pizza or lasagna in sight. Fresh ciabiatta with olives and a small bowl of olive oil was served straight away. The wine list was impressive and had very good value.

So the first impression was not too bad but then it started to go a bit downhill. The girl who served us, didn't know anything about the specials which where Gnocchis with spinach and ricotta cheese and stuffed peppers. When I asked her how the peppers were stuffed, she shrugged the shoulders but after looking at us made the effort to ask in the kitchen. Didn't really understand her when she came back. Anyway, I ordered the gnocchis which were homemade, the spinach and ricotta worked into the dough and they rolled big gnoochis out. A passata was the base of the sauce and the dish was drizzled with pesto. It was a lovely dish, rich and delicious. Di's stuffed pepper came with anchovies, cherry tomatoes and chopped garlic. The side dish of salad was nothing to write home about.

The mains for me provided a problem as it only consisted of meat or fish of which I could only choose the sole (I know - boring as I just had it the night before) as I don't like tuna. There was nothing wrong with the dish but nothing really right either. The potatoes were boiled and crushed and had no taste whatsoever. The fish fell flat in all regards other than it was cooked. The vegetables came served in a bowl and were swimming in olive oil. Carrots had a nice bite to them but the courgettes were cut in different sizes and were not cooked evenly as some of the pieces were simply soggy. Di had Calf liver which she ordered pink and came well done although tender. Same spuds and veggies. The dish should have come with caramelised onions but were kinda just cooked and too plenty. We both didn't finish our meal. As dessert I ordered orange and lemon tart which was lovely, zingy and fresh. Di had a panna cotta which was wobbly but was holding its shape. The dish could have benefited from some decor on it.

The staff was the most detached people I have ever experienced. They couldn't have been less bothered if they tried. The time between the courses was quite long and it took them ages to bother asking if we wanted the dessert menu.

It was a weird experience really, the chef has potential (the first courses showed that) but the food lacks consistency. The staff really needs to put it up a notch if they want to help the restaurant to succeed. I would go there for lunch tho but it is not an evening destination. Saying all that, I was impressed by the wine list, the goodies and the attempt to provide proper Italian food. I hope they can bring it to the next level as I really think the talent is there.

We ended the night in Maggie May's pub with a few pints in front of a roaring fire and the evening finished on a high note.

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