It was only a night for cheese fondue, bitingly cold and blustery, but my three cheese creation had been (pleasingly) decimated by the cast and crew of that evening’s Six O’Clock Show. Sarah and I ventured out into the cold seeking comfort food, wondering where we could dip in to near by as soon as filming wrapped up.
Leaving the TV3 studios in Ballymount, their signature purple logo delivered the bolt of inspiration we needed as I remembered watching Chef Jeff Norman cooking up a feast recently on Ireland AM. His kitchen at The Woodlock Brasserie called out to us, only a couple of minutes away in Citywest Hotel, and the day was saved.
Located upstairs with a distinct feel from the hotel lobby, a lively brasserie on a Wednesday night is a rare affair, but there are business people wooing clients, groups of friends gathered for catch ups and plenty of locals trickling in and out meaning The Woodlock has already secured a firm following since opening its doors.
With an extensive menu of classics, treats from the grill and more exotic mains like Connemara Hill Lamb Tagine and Traditional Thai Chicken Curry, it is clear The Woodlock would appeal to a vast array of different tastes and pleasingly, places heavy emphasis on sourcing and provenance.
To kick off proceedings, I opted for Scallops and Pressed Rare Bread Pork Belly(€11.50). A pretty dish with tart and luminous apple gel and temptingly rich belly, this is a surf and turf combo I can certainly get behind. Kilmore Quay scallops, sweet and petite, need little more than a kiss of a pan and had been well handled here, as had the melting and tender pork belly.
O’Doherty’s Organic Black Pudding Bon Bons(€7.50), smooth within and crisp without, were a showcase of a fine Irish pudding with subtle spice and an accompanying poached egg offered the all important quiver and ooze. More of the above apple gel saved this dish from cutting too close to the breakfast bone and the plate went back clean.
We couldn’t resist sampling the bounty of the specialist vapogrill, and when the 8oz Fillet Steak(€26.50) arrived, branded with char marks and adorned with Dublin Bay Prawns and Scallops(€5.50), we were glad we indulged. Invitingly tender with an undeniable depth of flavour attributable both to in-house dry aging and the vapogrill steam treatment infusing the beef with wild garlic undertones, any carnivore would be pleased with this dish.
Keeping it simple and classic, this dish was finished with a sweet onion purée and a stellar creamy pepper sauce along with fondant potato. I managed to scavenge some of the deliciously garlicky seafood, along with some crisp Parmesan and Truffle Fries(€3.50), for pepper sauce testing purposes, of course. As comforting fare goes, this was a real treat.
Before me sat a whopper of a seafood dish, a generous Grilled Sea Bass(€19) fillet ticked all the boxes with crisp crackling-like skin. A refreshing shaved raw fennel and orange segment salad cut through any oiliness, along with a couple of dollops of sundried tomato butter. Lemon crushed potatoes propped up the bass, but I was more taken by a side of New Season Tender Stem Broccoli (€3) with toasted almonds and yet more vampire slaying garlic butter.
Generous portions and chatting with Chef Jeff Norman about his exploits, from cooking for Monaco Royalty to Justin Bieber, meant that dessert passed us by, although we had contemplated finishing on a sweet note with an interesting sounding Textures of Green Tea. For once, capacity overruled craving and we headed back out into the cold, having settled the bill which came to…..for two starters, two mains and two side dishes.
Citywest have managed to revamp a space which otherwise likely be confined to catering primarily to hotel guests and The Woodlock has clearly already secured a loyal local following as we saw on the night.
With simple, well executed dishes offering great value for the most part, whether you’re a devout steak lover or looking for a lighter bite in a welcoming and chilled out environment, it’s not hard to see why the place is heaving midweek.
Our bill, for two starters, two mains and two sides, came to €57.50.
The Woodlock Brasserie
T: (01) 401 0919
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake Off and am passionate about discovering and creating delicious things – I can sometimes be caught in the act on TV3’s Six O’Clock Show or RTE Today. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting. Follow me on my pursuit of deliciousness.