Following on from his late father’s success, chef Peter Clifford, author of Clifford & Sons (which is on my Christmas wish list) latest venture is Fennel in Drumcondra which opened earlier in the year. It’s located just off the Swords Road next to The Regency Hotel. Given the huge amount of media attention The Regency Hotel has gotten this year, I can imagine people are sceptical about going to that neck of the woods let alone expecting to find a restaurant serving near Michelin star quality food there. However, I’m not one to let a restaurant’s location stop me from trying it so I went there for lunch with my extended family last Saturday.
While it is slightly out of the way if you’re inclined to eat in town, it was an absolutely perfect location for us because we were coming from the airport and didn’t really want to go into the city centre. We were a group of 6 and didn’t need a booking for lunch although I do believe that it’s quite popular for dinner and you’d need a booking.
The lunch menu was small and offered 3 choices for starters, main and dessert. For my starter, I went with the Risotto, Pigs Cheek, Frozen Foie Gras. As soon as I see foie gras on a menu I don’t care what else it’s served with. I have to have it. I’m also a fan of pigs cheek and risotto so I had high hopes for this dish.
Ok so first of all, doesn’t look like the most appealing dish in the world but risotto generally doesn’t photograph well anyway. Appearances aside, this was a really delicious dish. I didn’t really get the taste of the foie gras TBH but it was still a really tasty starter and I loved the added surprise of parmesan mixed in with the risotto. The beetroot dish (Beetroot, sour onion, vinegar) which had three different types of beetroot looked gorgeous and was bursting with colour. As my grand uncle described it “It looks like they splashed paint on the plate!”
The 3rd starter was Mackerel, Horseradish and clementine. I loved the presentation of this dish and was assured it was really good. The horseradish was sprinkled on top like cheese and was an interesting way to incorporate it to the dish. I must mention at this point that the chef is very accommodating of different dietary needs. My dad claims he’s allergic to cheese (he’s not because he loves cream cheese icing on carrot cake) and another wasn’t a fan of horseradish and both their dishes were modified accordingly.
Most of the table ordered duck as their main although they all ruined it by having it cooked well done. Monsters. Duck, Wild Blackberries, Beetroot. I had mine cooked like it’s supposed to be cooked, medium/rare. For a piece of duck, it wasn’t a hugely fatty piece of meat which went down well with the table. Me, however, I love the fat! The wild blackberries were gorgeous and the beetroot wasn’t overly acidic and complemented the duck.
We also got a selection of the sides for the table as well. Organic carrots with tarragon and rapeseed. Hand cut chips and crispy potatoes with lyonnaise onions. All were eaten. No complaints were heard.
The dessert menu we were given was wrong which was a bit disappointing because my great-aunt was looking forward to trying the black figs. All was not lost, though. She had a chestnut mousse and pear dessert and absolutely devoured it. I think that’s a good indication that she was happy with it.
I went for the Chocolate, Vanilla, Rice Crispy. It was a very decadent dessert and the presentation was interesting. I could have done with a small bit more vanilla ice cream (it was divine!) because the chocolate was quite dark but that didn’t stop me hoovering it all up.
Overall everyone was really happy with their meals and even the picky eaters enjoyed their meals.
Would I go back to Fennel? Yes. I’m absolutely raging I didn’t go there sooner especially when LP lived within walking distance to it.
What did I not like? My only criticism is to do with being given an out of date menu but mistakes happen. No biggie.