When Duende Bar and Restaurant opened about two years ago, we started visiting because they had a nice selection of tapas, which we invariably ordered. In recent months, however, the menu has been evolving and moving away from serving tapas and Spanish style dishes. Head Chef Janos Sarkozi, who has previously worked at Tankardstown House, L’Ecrivan and Scholars Hotel, is showcasing his dishes, alongside the main menu which comprises the likes of Steaks, Burgers, chicken wings, etc.
This is being achieved with the introduction of a Tasting Menu of Specials offered on Wednesday evenings. The 7-course menu, which includes tea or coffee, is priced at €35 per person and runs from 6 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. Also included in the price this week was a complimentary glass of wine or bottle of beer per person. I am not sure if this is offered every Wednesday. Anyway, our choice was a glass of Rioja and a beer.
To begin, the amuse bouche consisted of roast beef, pickled mustard seeds, radish, and truffle powder. I thought there was a hint of horseradish in the cream which lay under the slice of beef and complimented the entire dish. All the flavours of a “roast beef dinner” but refined and well presented.
The next course was confit duck with in-house-made capellini (Angel Hair pasta), shimeji mushrooms, a creme fraiche, pecorino, and parmesan cream, and finished with shavings of parmesan cheese. No need for salt or pepper here, as the cheeses and baby nasturtium leaves doubled as condiments as well as garnishes. We thought this was a delicious combination of textures and flavours.
The Fish Course was cod cheeks, which are so easy to get wrong, unfortunately, because of their size. If overdone they are dry, tasteless, and unpleasant to eat. These, however, were far from that. Lightly salted and fried, they were perfectly cooked and accompanied by broad beans, celeriac & rocket purée, and a lemon and cream foam.
The palate cleanser was next, which was Quercy Melon Granita with a citrus flavoured foam. This was light, well balanced in flavour, and instantly refreshing.
Pork Loin with roasted red-pepper sauce, chickpeas, chorizo, fresh herb crumb, topped with a Basque Piperade, and garnished with nasturtium petals.
The pepper sauce paired very well with the Pork loin which, again, was perfectly cooked. The chickpeas picked up the smokiness from the chorizo, and the herb crumb added an extra layer of flavour without having to add salt. I gave the piperade to my dining companion simply because I don’t like sliced peppers. but I do like red pepper sauce!
The dessert course was Strawberry Panna Cotta, cinnamon crumb, and strawberry ice cream covered in a white chocolate shell.
Strawberries served four ways – Panna cotta, fresh pieces, gel, and ice cream. The panna cotta had the characteristic “wobble”, and the perfect vehicle for seasonal fruits. My “no dessert” fellow-diner and I finished every last spoonful!
Petit Fours – Mini Chocolate Macarons, White Chocolates filled with orange cream, and Marzipan rolls. Unfortunately, I passed again on the Marzipan due to a personal and general dislike of the taste. I declined tea or coffee, and just managed to find room for a Macaron and white chocolate orange cream!
Our bill came to €82.10, of which €70 was for the Tasting menu, and €12.10 for two extra drinks.
This was, without a doubt, one of the best meals I have had in the locality recently. I would certainly recommend if you are in the area to drop in and try for yourself. The tasting menu changes each week so there will be plenty to try during future visits.
A restaurant which has a tried-and-tested core menu, running along side innovative Specials is always somewhere which appeals to us, and that is why Duende is now on my list of “Favourites” in the area. Well done to Chef Sarkozi and his team, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Disclosure: “Nothing to Declare”