I loved The Vintage Kitchen on Poolbeg Street so I was excited when I heard that a ‘sister’ restaurant – The Little Kitchen – had opened on Leeson Street, also in Dublin. Part of the charm of The Vintage Kitchen is its eclectic décor and the cluttered, cramped feel of the restaurant where diners are packed in sardine-like to enjoy some stonking great food.
Like its big sister, The Little Kitchen premises are tight-on-space with the kitchen located at the end of a small, narrow dining room which can cater for approximately 25 -30 diners. However this incarnation is decorated in a crisper style which, amazingly, makes it feel more spacious than its sibling. The menus are also similar and those who are familiar with The Vintage Kitchen will have a sense of déjà vu when eating at The Little Kitchen but this is precisely the point and the intention of the owners.
Dining alone, I was placed at a small table at the front of the restaurant, beside the window looking out onto the Romanian Orthodox Church located across the road. From this vantage point I happily observed the world-go-by as I decided what to order for my dinner.
The menu is brief, offering 4 starters, 4 mains and 3 desserts including a cheeseboard option and is reasonably priced at €30 per person for 2 courses or €36 per person for 3 courses. The restaurant operates a similar BYOB policy as the Vintage Kitchen whereby no corkage is charged when you bring your own wine and order at least two courses from the menu.
Although tempted by the Smoked Haddock Chowder, I decided to go for the Gratin of Organic Goat’s Cheese, Caramelised Pearl Onion & Beets, Grilled Tomato and Basil with Pak Choi to start. To be honest, I am a little weary of seeing the Goat’s Cheese/Beetroot combo on menus and for me it is quickly becoming the 21st Century version of Prawn Cocktail, that 1970s ‘classic’! However, I was curious to see what The Little Kitchen would offer up and was delighted with the piping hot dish I was presented with. Packed full of large chunks of sweet juicy beetroot and a generous amount of bubbling goat’s cheese, this was a sizeable and very delicious starter that pleased and excited the palate. I loved the combination of the beetroot with the bittersweet caramelised pearl onions which gave way to the rich creaminess of the goat’s cheese. By way of contrast parmesan wafers imparted a crisp saltiness that was wonderful against the overall earthy sweetness of the dish. This was thoroughly satisfying food.
I rarely order steak when dining out but was immediately attracted to the Pan-Fried Fillet of Beef, Organic Black Pudding, Gravy, Crushed Basil Potatoes (€7 supplement) so I ordered it for my main course. Fillet Beef can be a little tasteless at the best of times, but here the meat had been sensitively cooked medium-rare as requested and possessed a gentle sweetness that was delightful against the full-flavoured black pudding. The accompanying crushed basil potatoes which came presented in their own mini saucepan had been flawlessly cooked and added a burst of colour and a fresh herby fragrance to the dish. A superb gravy spiked with mustard brought everything together whilst some roasted parsnips and a floret of lightly battered, deep-fried broccoli finished the dish. I was feeling very happy and very full!
Although both the starter and main courses were sizeable, I felt honour-bound to order dessert and quickly decided on the Half-Baked Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice-Cream which sounded too good to ignore. I was warned that this was cooked to order and would take a few minutes to arrive but I was happy to sip my sparkling water, relax and wait for it. They say good things come to those who wait and it’s fair to say that this dessert was very good. Served simply presented in an oblong ramekin with a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top, the cake yielded up a centre of a hot, deeply flavoured chocolate sauce that was wonderful against the cool ice-cream. Each mouthful was a pure pleasure to eat and a ‘must’ for any chocoholics!
Service throughout was perfectly pitched and added to my overall enjoyment of the meal. The Little Kitchen may be an offshoot of an existing restaurant and whilst I accept that comparisons are inevitable, I also feel that the food should be judged in its own right. I really enjoyed my meal and the food that I ate. The menu is simple but there is a sense of generosity about the food that is served and I left with an enormous sense of well-being and a determination to return soon.
Niamh believes Ireland produces some of the best food in the world, and travels around the country; seeking out the best food producers, and places to eat.
An accomplished cook and baker, Niamh is also a previous MasterChef Ireland finalist. During the competition she had the opportunity to cook in some of Ireland’s top restaurants and experience life on the other side of the kitchen pass.
Working with TheTaste allows Niamh to write about her experiences and to share her passion for food and cooking with a wide audience.
Visit Niamh’s blog The Game Bird Food Chronicles.