Dublin: A golden goose

Greedy Goose, 15 Townyard Lane, Malahide, Co Dublin; tel: 01-8451299; greedygoose.ie

IT isn’t easy for a restaurant to go against the grain. However adventurous we get with different styles of food, be they French, Italian, Indian, Thai, we still eat most of them the same way. Namely, via the Holy Trinity of starters, mains and desserts.

Sure, you’ll get occasional variations. Tapas seem obvious, but despite Irish ingredients being very suited to this way of eating, the Spanish system is one we’ve been slow to embrace at home. Tasting menus also come to mind — but they’re mostly the preserve of high-end dining rooms.

Greedy Goose has another idea. One of countless eateries in the leafy and luxurious village of Malahide, its competition includes a Michelin Star restaurant (Bon Appétit), highlyregarded Indian and Pakistani places and a tonne of cafes, brasseries and casual joints. To distinguish itself from the crowd, it’s gone out on a limb with a distinct and fun menu concept.

Dinner here “breaks the formal traditions of dining out” it announces.

How so? Well, by listing three separate menus at three separate prices (Option A costs €19.50, Option B costs €23.50 and Option C €27.90). The idea is that you choose a menu, pick three dishes from it and eat them over three courses — in portion sizes slightly bigger than starters, but smaller than mains. In Spain, you might term them raciones as opposed to tapas.

Desserts are chosen separately, at €7 a pop. There’s also a page at the back of the menu booklet that lists dishes with individual prices — if you’d prefer to order fewer (or more) than the set-price three courses, I guess, or try a few different combinations.

It’s a merry experiment, and a merry space for it too. Greedy Goose sits on the first floor of a building overlooking Malahide’s marina — a compact room packed tightly with tables, its walls pared back to the brickwork. It’s loud and hectic on a Friday, with customers ranging from older and younger couples to gossiping girlfriends kicking off a night on the town.

Over the course of the evening, four of us get through a dozen or so dishes and, by and large, the quality is good. From Menu C, for example, I order crab claws in garlic and lemon, slow-braised lamb in puff pastry, and surf ’n’ turf. The claws are tasty, the lamb is tender inside a gorgeous little parcel of pastry, and the surf ’n’ turf is topped with two big and delicious prawns — albeit on a fairly pedestrian chunk of sirloin steak, dripping in Sambuca sauce. Not a bad innings.

Menu B yields deep-fried gruyere cheese with tomato jam and herb salad (the cheese is underdone, not melty enough), a trio of lemon sole, cod and salmon with parsley risotto (thumbs up) and pan-fried sea bass with a chorizoinfused ratatouille (well-cooked, and widely shared). Also enjoyed is the chicken liver pate with toasted ciabatta, apple and black pepper chutney.

Service chimes nicely with the unfussy atmosphere. Our waiter is chirpy and casual without being intrusive or careless; she talks us through the menu concept, and seems actually to be enjoying her shift, rather than showing up to pay the bills. It’s amazing how quickly the right tone can put you in a good mood. Especially when it’s accompanied by a light and fruity Italian merlot (€24.90).

On the downside, there’s a choice of only four desserts, which is a bit of an anti-climax given the smorgasbord that precedes them, and the one that looks most enticing in the menu — a tasting of chocolate — gets a decidedly mixed reaction. The wine list is also pretty basic.

Overall, however, it’s a really enjoyable meal. The company is good, the craic infectious, and everybody is sharing. The food doesn’t wow, but it is great value. Greedy Goose may just have laid a golden egg — if you’re looking for something different in Malahide, give it a go.

THE TAB: Dinner for four came to €161.65, or just over €80 per couple. Tip extra.

HOW TO: Monday to Friday — 5pm till close; Saturday and Sunday — 1pm till close.

The verdict:
Food: 6/10
Ambiance: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Wine: 4/10
Value: 8/10

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