The latest venture from Liz Matthews and Simon Barrett comes in the form of an intimate restaurant on Auniger Street in Dublin. As the people who brought us Etto, the expectations were high, with the restaurant being one of the most hotly anticipated openings of the year.
I had plans to meet my friend Nadine in town and go for a bite to eat, and the timing was on our side this Monday evening. For the past number of weeks, I had been constantly checking my Twitter feed for news of Uno Mas’ opening, and it seemed that Nadine and myself were in luck. A quick phone call early that afternoon and we were booked in for dinner. The excitement was in full swing.
Although sizably bigger than it’s cute older sister Etto, Uno Mas is a small restaurant that radiates charm. Shelves of wine bottles line the left-hand side wall down to the bar area, which features ample seating, allowing you to get a front row seat to the action.
A selection of snacks start the menu; gildas, crispy pigs ears and jamón Ibérico are some of the delicacies on offer. We choose Cecina Croquetas (€6.00) and Padrón Peppers (€7.00) to nibble on. The croquetas were some of the finest I’ve had, a deliciously crisp interior with a gooey creamy filling. The peppers were glistening with olive oil and a healthy sprinkling of sea salt.
Starters include a pretty dish of venison carpaccio with pickled walnut that I eyed on the table beside ours, and what I’ve since heard described as “the best tortilla ever” (a swift return visit is in order to sample this dish). For myself, the Morcilla, Piquillo Pepper and Quail Egg (€11.00) was too good to pass up, and for Nadine, her favourite fishy dish of Mussels & Mojo Rojo (€10.00) was the only choice that evening.
The housemade morcilla was divine. Full of flavour and melt in the mouth, its richness balanced by the sharp smokiness of the piquillo peppers. Delicate quail egg topped the dish, which was soon cleared of every tasty morsel.
Across the table sat perfectly cooked mussels bathed in a spicy mojo sauce, which I couldn’t resist dipping my fork into numerous times (Nadine is a generous friend, thankfully for me). The mojo sauce is full of warmth but doesn’t overpower the mussels. Served alongside a thick slice of bread to mop up any remaining sauce, this is a simple dish that is bursting with flavour.
For those who know me well, will know when I spot pork of any kind on a menu, it’s probably going to end up on my plate. That tradition wasn’t broken here. For mains, the Suckling Pig, Pink Fir Apple Potato & Parsnip (€24.00), was my immediate choice.
Soft and tender pork, that could easily be eaten with a spoon sat under the crispiest slice of pork crackling. This dish is my kind of food, and with each mouthful my smile gets bigger.
Across the table, Nadine picks the Mushrooms with Slow Cooked Egg & Jerusalem Artichoke (€20.00). A completely moreish dish that is heavenly to eat on a cold winters evening.
Slivers of crisp artichoke, a mixture of Irish oyster mushrooms and piedemonte mushrooms give the dish an earthy feel. Hidden underneath is slow cooked egg yolk, that when cut into pulls the dish together in a silky smooth sauce.
Dessert is a tough call, each dish is like music to my ear. Nadine picks the Flan de Queso (€7.00), a gelatinous piece of rich custard sitting in a bath of sweet caramel. For myself, I choose the Milhojas (€7.00), a mille-feuille style dessert with luscious vanilla mascarpone and a caramel-like custard.
Fans of Etto will no doubt have tried their prunes in red wine and here Uno Mas has paid homage to this firm favourite. Using the syrup from the prunes to layer in between tantalisingly thin slices of puff pastry.
Staying true to the restaurant’s namesake Uno Mas (one more) we unleashed our inner gluttons and ordered one more dessert. A beautiful plate of Dark Chocolate & Olive Oil Ganache (€7.00) was just the extra bite we needed. A small portion is all that is needed of this exquisite ganache.
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REVIEW BY SINÉAD SMYTH