Words: Aoife McElwain
“Aoife, it’s really time to go now,” Niall says gently. I’m lingering by the door, looking back wistfully through an open dining room and kitchen to the corner table where we have been sitting for the past three hours. “I don’t want to leave…” I whimper. I’m… in love. I’m in love with the place, the food and the couple who are running the show at Forest Avenue.
John Wyer and Sandy Sabek met in a kitchen in Germany. After working in Spanish kitchens, they came back to Dublin and both found a home at L’Ecrivain – Sandy as Head Pastry Chef and John finishing as Head Chef by the end of their three years there. When they started a family, they took time out but kept the fires burning with the Supper Club Project which saw them popping up in various venues and bringing their exquisite food along with them. I first fell for them at one of their pop-ups at Ormond Wine Bar in early 2011 and was so excited to visit their debut restaurant Forest Avenue when it opened last month.
We had a great view of John working in his calm, ordered kitchen and Sandy, while still the Don of desserts, worked the front of house beautifully. We went for the tasting menu at €48 per person. Snacks are served first and I ain’t talking a bowl of peanuts. Homemade potato bread comes with sweet, creamy homemade ricotta.Then there’s tiny cheesy biscuit puff sandwiches stuffed with puréed beetroot and creme fraiche. Chicken liver pate comes served between slivers of wafer thin and crispy pastry. Two dainty beef cheek croquettes arrive and we’re like “Oh. My. Gawd.”
A beautiful, refreshing bowl of trout tartar with miso, cucumber juice, apple and trout roe appears in front of us. It’s followed by butter fried gnoochi with succulent chicken served with girolles, roast onion, celeriac and the most perfectly boiled egg ever.
And it actually got better. Roasted scallops were served with a cauliflower couscous, fat and plump mussels, capers and brown butter. I just… can’t even…So. Amazing. The lamb with pumpkin, chantrelles, pine nuts and black olive paled slightly only by comparison. It was in itself faultless.
The truffle custard, chocolate soil, coffee ice cream and chocolate mousse came served in a darling cup while a plate of St Tola cheese was accompanied by compressed apple purée. We found the fruit and nut toast accompanying the cheese was a little too heavy after such an epic meal. But we struggled on.
We were having a well-brewed cup of coffee when Sandy appeared with a little plate of homemade marshmallows and donut holes. You know, because Forest Avenue is a wonderful place and that’s the kind of thing that happens there.
We were on a pre-Christmas detox on the night we visit (I know, so brave) which meant we couldn’t avail of the delicious list of tipples on the wine list. But then our fab hostess produced a bottle of non-alcoholic Prosecco leftover from an opening week party. Made our night.
The bill came to €98.50 (I’ve just realised they forgot to charge us for those coffees – and they wouldn’t let us pay for the non-alcoholic plonk). It’s incredible value for this level of cooking. It’s such special food – so inspiring yet completely unpretentious. “I want the food to be modern without being fussy,” John explains. “I want people to relate to the flavours and I want people to recognise Forest Avenue food as Forest Avenue food.”
Guys, seriously. Apart from the tasting menu (and you can choose from A La Carte too with 3 courses for €33), they do lunch and a tasting menu brunch of five courses for €24. I can say with confidence that I’m not the only one who has found their new favourite restaurant in Dublin.
8 Sussex Terrace