Remember when the novelty of cooking your own meat on a stone drew in the masses looking to pander to the cravings of their inner Neanderthal? Dylan McGrath was among the first to fuel the fire of this fad, but over the years, Rustic Stone has cemented itself as an eatery offering far more than its namesake suggests.
Eating out can pose a major challenge to your good intentions – dishes bathed in hidden butter, deep fried delights and a loose hand with oil mean restaurant dishes often blow the budget diet wise.
Rustic Stone was the original trail-blazer in terms of health conscious dishes without compromising on flavour and a recent visit reminded me that they haven’t dropped the ball since.
Their new red-brick walled private dining area, upstairs and adjacent to Bonsai Bar, means that one of the most buzzing restaurants in the city can be enjoyed in a relaxed and chilled out atmosphere.
A recent Team Taste night out allowed us to take full advantage of this inviting new space and we headed towards the Creative Quarter on one of the hottest days of the year, hungry and hoping for light summer dishes.
The group dining menu at Rustic Stone is dotted with plenty of nutritious options and a good amount of indulgent choices too, so everyone was happy. Kicking off with snacks of Sourdough and Breadsticks for scooping up a deliciously more-ish caramelised onion hummus and plump ruby red tuna tartare stuffed Stuffed Chili Peppers, our appetites were more than whetted for the feast to come.
Half the group couldn’t resist kicking off with Soya Glazed Asian Quail, sticky, sweet and skewered, draped with waif-like mango and a chunky mango chutney to cut through the rich and gamey bird. Worth getting your hands dirty for.
Across the table, Crab Mayonaise on Toast is far more stylish than it sounds, heavily lemon scented and like sunshine in a bite with sweet flakey crabmeat giving way to crunch, topped with creamy avocado. If you’re really watching your waistline, or are simply saving room for a feast of a main course, the light and refreshing Melon Skewers are a nice way to build up your appetite for a juicy steak.
Speaking of steaks, diners have three options to cook on the stone – Sirloin, Rump or Fillet, and the majority of us opted for a tempting meaty choice.
The Sirloin got a quick minute on the stone so it could be devoured rare, and was topped with a Three Peppercorn Relish, more flavour packed than its creamy counterpart, like a cross between a chutney and a peppercorn sauce studded with pink pearls and diced shallot, the crowning glory on a marbled beauty of a sirloin.
Fat was our friend again with Halibut on the Stone, with a thin layer ensuring the plump fillet doesn’t lose its juiciness as it sizzles. Personally, I am more of a tuna on the stone kind of person, but a walnut pesto topping made this a tasty light bite indeed and it went well with an included side dish of a fresh Tomato, Avocado, Courgette and Coriander salad.
It is rare that sides live up to the deliciousness of the main event, but Crunchy Cauliflower Columbo Florets were, without doubt, the most tempting incarnation of the veggie du jour we have come across yet, with crisp curried nuggets atop velvety coconut and cauliflower puree. We regretted not ordering some extra portions, and there were fights over the last florets.
Fillet of Beef on the Stone was a real treat, plump and juicy and topped with a lighter olive oil hollandaise and umami rich mushroom duxelles. As the leanest cut, it simply had to be accompanied by a side of indulgent Truffle Chips with truffle mayo and lashings of Parmesan to dunk into the hollandaise – who could resist?
Desserts, as you would expect, are refined sugar free and crafted with agave syrup where necessary, so any guilt you may have summoning a sweet end to the meal is eliminated with options like Chocolate Soup with Chocolate Mousse (one for Nutella lovers topped with grated hazelnut) or a simple platter of Raw Fruit to ease your sweet tooth.
Dinner in Rustic Stone remains a safe bet to satisfy all sorts of eaters – those on a diet blow out or budget – and proves that dining out needn’t derail saintly intentions. Unless of course you are tempted to stop in Bonsai for a cocktail or two on the way out, which you will be – we call it balance!
The group menu ranges from €45-€55 per person.
17 South Great George’s St
T: 01 707 9596
REVIEW BY DARINA COFFEY