It’s a wild and scary Friday in June, the howling wind adding venom to the nasty, driving rain. Given two major concerts in town and a combination of musical and weather circumstances, cabs are rarer than a hen’s dentist, so The Gambler, who left early dressed for the summer, is a bit ‘moistened’ when we meet in the always splendid Welcome Inn, 100 yards from Goldie.
Among its countless charms, The Welcome Inn offers an excellent selection of over 120 whiskeys and the notion of hot toddies in June doesn’t seem strange on such a night. But we regain control of ourselves, settling for a plain pint before heading to what is quickly becoming one of the hottest tickets in town, walking the chef/co-owner’s burgeoning national reputation Aishling Moore.
We have ringside seating, at the top of the counter, looking along an extremely narrow drinks/service station leading to an equally compact kitchen. It’s the best view in the house if you’re ready to follow the action, room by room. The Gambler, a professional in the hotel industry in reconquest and follower of standards, is immediately attracted by the innate fluidity of the culinary choreography: four chefs, often complemented by two or three waiters, weaving one into the other, a ballet of efficiency professional practiced with the laser-focused Moore as the main dancer.
First, the snacks: Old Bay and Langoustine potato chips are absolutely cost effective, sporting peppery umami and just thick enough to hold firmly while shoveling in lemony sour cream; Taiwanese fish nuggets, four small fried pieces of lightly spiced hake (five spice) with a sublime taste of ‘more’ – you sit down very easily with a cold Jawbone beer (brewed across the road in the restaurant “sister”, Elbow Lane Smokehouse & Brewery) and eat far too much.
Next, small plates. We have two dried fish dishes. The slices of Churchfield radish are so finely julienned they could be fish bones adding a slight crunch to the salty, sweet, salty, almost creamy turbot as it melts in your mouth. Any slide into drowsiness is halted by the dizzying citric exuberance of blood orange kosho. Every bite draws an unsolicited smile, as I seem to do every time I see a Fiat Bambino – I just can’t help it. The dried cod pastrami, on the other hand, is more “mature”, heavy on the fish, the beetroot kraut and pickled mustard seeds fleshing out the flavor spectrum with powerful earthy and acidic notes.
A plate of glasswort and onion bhajis comes across as a pungent exotic creation, but is a deeply satisfying and guilty comfort of elemental appeal, a savory crunch of batter giving way to the caramelized sweet sugar of baked onion. Mashed green chilli and wild garlic, pinching around the “ankles”; the pickle-lime yogurt is a blanket of lush, creamy acidity.
The small plate choice is buttermilk fried ling, a wonderful fish, breaded in buttermilk, flour and fermented hot sauce, fried, served with sour bread and buttery pickles and lime mayonnaise emollient and shiny; each bite comes out with flavor and texture in a way that makes me close my eyes and squirm with pleasure.
Little belly space left, we share a single main course: pan-roasted skate, succulent meaty flesh, slipping off the “comb” of the bones, swimming in the glistening fats of pil-pil butter sauce, slammed with chili, topped with puffy, blistered slices of charred Singing Frog zucchini. We add awesome sea salt fries, along with equally awesome pickle ketchup for dipping.
Likewise, we opt for a single dessert, Toonsbridge’s delicious ricotta cheesecake, with Bushby’s silky raspberry sorbet, the latter featuring Ireland’s finest raspberries, instantly elevating any sweet offering to a station. infinitely superior.
Our Les Granges Roussillon is bursting with floral and citric fruit notes, boasting a 13.5% bolshie, but I’d much rather have a bottle at room temperature, freshly chilled to serve, than this poor craythur apparently salvaged after days in the refrigerator, almost as cold and lifeless as poor Gambler was earlier. This may be a minor point for most, but such is the standard of food currently being served at Goldie, it deserves an equally excellent wine experience.
It’s not the first time I’ve eaten at Goldie’s, having launched a few months after it opened in late 2019. Yes, of course any new restaurant should be able to meet its own standards from the start, but I’m generally inclined to allow enough time for a new establishment to actually achieve what it initially set out to do, as restaurants can take on a life of their own, evolving in ways never before considered at the planning stage.
However, a shot at a seafood bar with a difference was hard to resist and while a great night of dining at a smashing new venue, I’d compare it to seeing a talented young footballer not quite ready to move into the big leagues. Moore’s potential and ability were evident, but she was also tentatively stretching for a spot then beyond her reach.
Looking at her tonight, she “owns” the place and I’m not mentioning her name on any legal document. She exudes a controlled, powerful and confident energy, the other chefs revolve around her like planets around the sun and the cuisine is often exceptional: balanced and creative compositions, sometimes even playful, but always taking the simplest path. and the most direct, without faffing at the fringes.
Honestly, I cannot claim to have anticipated this level of evolution in a relatively short time, especially with the past two years so marred by the pandemic. I will never make this mistake again. Moore will continue to evolve and grow as a very special chef and the only limits she will face going forward are the extent of her own ambitions.
131 € (wine, cocktails, drinks included, excluding tip)
- Food: 9/10
- Performance: 8.5/10
- Value: 9/10
- Atmosphere: 9/10