For those of you who have wandered down Dawson St. or Nassau St. in the last few weeks you may have noticed that it now resembles a building site from the on going Luas works. How this is not affecting the venues surrounding here is beyond belief. As we navigated between the roadworks we eventually made it to the infamous “Pink Door” that houses the Michelin Bib Gourmand Pig’s Ear. A short climb up their steep stairs and suddenly you understand why this restaurant is so busy even with all the distraction outside.
The Pig’s Ear is one of those spots when you mention the name a lot people seem to know it but haven’t actually dined there. Nassau St. is probably not the first location that springs to mind for exceptional food but Stephen McAllister has very quietly created an understated masterpiece with what formally housed Jacobs Ladder many moons ago.
The restaurant is predominately laid out over two levels, the first, which we dined in, a bright, airy and minimalistic room with a bared back feel where all the focus is what’s on the plate. With the exceptional of the three cute little pigs peering out from the corner and the superb view from our window seat overlooking Trinity Pavilion, where a cricket match was being played out, there is very little to distract you here.
Expectation is always high when you have acclaimed chefs behind the pass but as we looked around the buzzing room all we could see where happy couples with great dishes in front of them. The fact that the guys here tend to seat couples/small tables on the first floor and families or large parties on the second floor we loved, as it creates the perfect atmosphere for you to enjoy good food and good conversation.
The menu is focused on traditional Irish dishes but Head Chef Damien Derwin has given them a new modern lease of life. If you want to showcase Ireland on a plate no better place. The likes of their Ham Knuckle & Pork Terrine, Lough Erne Shepherd’s Pie and Irish Lamb Saddle Chop say it all really.
Tartares seem to be having a renaissance moment on many a menu at present but The Pig’s Ear Tartare of Irish Veal sounded intriguing. The meat itself had a perfectly tender texture and although you might think this is a simple dish to build, tartare can be notoriously hit and miss. Thankfully this one was outstanding, delicately plated with smoked gubbeen, Lakeshore mustard and flaky rye crumbs.
We had sneaked a peak at the next table and knew the Pea and Broad Bean Salad was worth sampling. Stunning greens filed the plate with a superb pea puree and the sweetest peas and redcurrants which worked wonders with the creamy, whipped St.Tola goats cheese. Only a hint of mint so all the flavours were extenuated beautifully.
Paying homage to the namesake our first main had to be the Glazed Pig Belly not only was the plating up visually impressive but the meat was so well cooked it really blew us away. Only one word can describe the glaze – divine! Jane Russell’s black pudding never looked so good, mixed with burnt pear and generous shavings of butternut squash and all topped off with crunchy little pumpkins seeds.
The pork was always going to be a hard act to follow but our Roast Cod done a pretty stellar job. The herby lardo and salt cod brandade mixed against the sweetest of the poppy sweetcorn definitely awaked all the senses. The Cod itself had such a contrasting crunch to the top it is hard to believe how delicate the fish below was. The addition of tiny clams & samphire was a real triumph.
The Pigs Ear has become well known for unique little desserts with a nod to childhood nostalgia, although it smacks a little of a twee gimmick, here it really works. On the suggestion of our server on the night of a light dessert, we were surprised when he suggested the Pig’s Ear Vanilla Cheesecake. Generally a heavy treat, we were greeted with an old school sweet bag containing a heavenly little jar with a light, deconstructed cheesecake of berry jam and hobnob biscuits.
All in all our bill came to €124.60 including a bottle of Jose Pariente Rueda and two sparkling waters, which we were more than happy to pay.
The Pig’s Ear have all the ingredients for a cracking night out, comfortable venue, friendly staff and sublime food, if haven’t experienced it yet you are seriously missing out.
This is a Sophisticated Taste we highly recommend.
The Pig’s Ear
4 Nassau St,
T: 01 670 3865
Keith & Jules Mahon are the founders of TheTaste. We want TheTaste to be a culinary kaleidoscope to champion every taste, food, wine, cocktails, whiskey, etc. We are delighted to be part of such a creative and fast moving industry and are very passionate about sharing with you our unique journey around Ireland finding the best culinary hotspots.