I don’t take notes during restaurant reviews but I do sometimes record parts of the meal with my phone so that I can better remember impressions and details.
I smiled as I listened back at the number of oohs and ahhs, mixed with expletives, exclamations of the Lord’s name, “taste this!” and “wow”.
Then there are the giggles of happiness, the sound of scraping plates and just one mild admonishment for the surreptitious licking of a soup bowl.
You would expect a number of good restaurants in a city the size of Dublin and while this was not always the case, it certainly has been for a while.
The older kitchens such as Chapter One and l’Ecrivain harbour and continue to nurture young talent and the city is now reaping rewards as these younger chefs strike out on their own.
Forest and Marcy is a sister restaurant of John and Sandy Wyer’s wonderful Forest Avenue which is just 200m away.
Here they have teamed with Chef Ciaran Sweeney in what used to be Rigby’s on the island in the middle of Upper Leeson Street near the old Burlington Hotel.
There is a long counter where you can perch and watch the chefs, with separate tables at the side of the room and the window.
Sweeney worked for a time in Greenhouse on Dawson Street with Mickael Viljanen whose influence could be seen occasionaly, but Sweeney’s own voice is here too — clear, and with good resonance of its own.
Booking is not an option at F&M, so we had a 20-minute wait over Galway Hooker ales in the Leeson Lounge while we awaited our phone call (yes, O’Briens’ next door is hipper but it was full of advertising yobbos and only seemed to stock macro-brewery beers).
Our menu offered 12 dishes (small, medium and large) ranging in price from €4 to €18.
Our charming server strongly encouraged us to try the House-Cured Charcuterie (€16), and such was her enthusiasm that we ordered far too much food and were forced to cancel three dishes halfway through the meal.
Part of the fault for this was the outstanding quality of the (gratis) sourdough bread and the large quantity of excellent charcuterie including melting ox-tongue, delicious bresaola and duck ‘ham’.
There were also two thick bonus discs of rich and satisfying home-made black pudding (watch out Kelly’s of Newport and Jack McCarthy!).
The bisque in our ‘Crab, Avocado, Bisque’ (€6) was wonderfully intense, the crab and avocado beautifully fresh — and so began a long list of wonderful flavours including delicately cured mackerel (with elderflower and ponzu), perfectly cooked flaky turbot with a satisfying blast of ozone from some cockles and some pungent freshness from goat milk whey and onions.
There was also a puffy fluffy potato farl with a distinct fruity fermented edge and some bacon and cabbage that had some unfortunate burnt flavours — the latter remained uneaten and was the singular flaw in our meal.
The wine list contains around 50 supremely well-chosen wines and I failed to find one that I haven’t either written or read about.
Almost all are available by the glass and our aperitifs of Nyetimber English fizz and my medium-dry 1842 Solera Oloroso were faultless as was our fruit-driven bottle of Duas Pedras Alentejo red — the cheapest wine on the list at €35.
This is a relatively high entry level, but given the quality of the wines, prices are very fair — from the excellent Greywacke Wild Ferment Sauvignon (€48) to JL Chave St Joseph (€48) to Justinos 10 Year Old Sercial Madeira (€12 per glass).
We had just enough room to squeeze in a luscious dessert of Tonka bean custard tart with fluffy woodruff foam, fruity apricot sorbet and caramelised walnuts for a mere €8.
The tart had a delicious (tonka) sweet tobacco and vanilla character and was expertly balanced
So yes, Dublin has another restaurant that you need to visit.
At the moment the food at F&M is significantly under-priced so I recommend going soon, unfortunately Sweeney is already probably influencing some younger chefs in his kitchen with his talents so my job is going to get harder.
Dinner for two with a large charcuterie platter, three small plates, one large plate, a shared dessert, plus two aperitifs and a bottle of wine cost €123 (excluding tip)
Closed: Monday to Tuesday
Note: Forest and Marcy do not take reservations but don’t let this discourage you.
Forest and Marcy, 126 Leeson Street Upper, Dublin 4; Tel: 01-6602480, www.forestandmarcy.ie