If you’re interested in what’s going on in the hospitality world, you’re probably already following @thesussman s on Instagram. Brothers Max and Eli are two New York City chefs whose money-related memes have resonated around the world. “I feel seen,” say restaurant folks as they grapple with this new reality of “living with the pandemic” and all that it brings in terms of staff shortages, supply chain issues, increased costs, unloading of influencers, and so on. resign to
ohn and Sandy Wyer have been performing nimble somersaults over the past few years to not only keep their business afloat, but to keep it thriving. They turned their main restaurant into a deli within days of the initial lockdown, moved fine dining around the corner to their former counter restaurant, Forest & Marcy, and opened a pizzeria, Little Forest, in Blackrock. And now they’ve stirred things up again by turning the deli into a wine bar at night.
We’re only here a few days after opening, but the wine bar already feels like it’s been here forever. There’s 1970s soul games, a gentle buzz in the room and nothing remotely challenging but plenty to whet the appetite and comfort in a small selection of small dishes. There is only one main course (today a côte de porc with potatoes, sauce and green salad, price €50 for two). On the basis that no matter how good the pork sounds, it means having to try fewer other dishes, we agree, albeit with some reluctance. Next time – because there will undoubtedly be a next time.
Instead – and this is where the Sussman comes ins come in – we start with a plate of Cantabrian anchovies “Matrimonio”, half salted, half marinated in vinegar. The sweet mans’ concise meme (accompanied by a photo of Michael Sheen in the Twilight Saga: New Moon, in which he plays an Italian vampire who can read minds by touch), notes that “chefs who put canned anchovies and toast from a bakery on the menu and charge $18” are spot on. Canned fish is ubiquitous these days and it’s true that the skill lies in sourcing rather than preparation, so of course you can replicate that at home, but if the anchovies are as good as these, dressed in parsley, capers and good oil (8 €) and warm sourdough bread with whipped butter (6 €) I have no problem with that. No one, but no one in Dublin makes sourdough quite like Forest Avenue.
What else are we going to eat? Meaty pickled and marinated shiitake with radish and seaweed and trout rillettes, the fish in flakes and served with good leaves and a crème fraîche dressing. There’s pastrami on toast with truffle mayonnaise and aged parmesan (so delicious) – a riff on a dish that’s signature at Quality Wines in Farringdon, London – and a comté, ham and truffle tart served in two long, slender slices that are simple and perfect.
Every restaurant needs an Instagrammable dish, and here it is potato paillasson, a cheerful rip-off from chef David Kinch’s take on the classic he calls “Tater Tots on Steroids,” which John taught himself to make on YouTube. Grated potatoes are slowly poached in duck fat before being cooled and shaped, cut into jenga-shaped chips, refried and given an Irish touch with a Vadouvan mayonnaise. It’s essentially fries with curry sauce, but OMG what fries! As John says, they are absolutely filthy.
We repent with a delicious retro organic leaf salad with grapes, toasted walnuts and shredded cashel blue cheese that is no repentance at all.
Finally, there is a vanilla pudding tart with a crème brûlée topping to crumble, with rhubarb and a yoghurt ice cream as well as small beignets with blood orange quark. Simple, seasonal desserts that aren’t too sweet or too complicated.
The wine list offers a fine selection of producer champagnes and wines by the glass. We taste three recommended by Sandy that are new to us: the Juanjo Tellaetxe Tantaka Hondarrabi Zuri, DO Arabako-Txakolina 2019, all fresh with a salty finish that makes for an energetic start; the elegant Niepoort Lagar de Baixo, Baga, Bairrada 2019; and the velvety Terre de l’Elu l’Aiglerie Cabernet Franc 2016.
With water, our bill comes to €167.50. The wine bar takes reservations and has a few counter seats for walk-in customers, and I can imagine it’ll be hard to stop by the next time I happen to spot a seat. I’m hoping for outdoor tables and a dog friendly policy next summer. Fingers crossed!
A glass of wine and “these” potatoes cost €14.
Oysters, duck and foie gras terrine, jam, côte de porc, dessert and cheese to share cost €120 excluding wine or service.
Forest Avenue Wine Bar, 8 Sussex Terrace, Sussex Road, Dublin 4; forestavenuewinebar.ie
https://www.independent.ie/life/food-drink/food-reviews/forest-avenue-wine-bar-review-their-potato-paillasson-is-essentially-chips-with-curry-sauce-but-omg-what-chips-theyre-absolutely-filthy-41503536.html Forest Avenue Wine Bar review: “Their potato paillasson is basically fries with curry sauce, but OMG what fries. They are absolutely dirty’