Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review : Clodagh's Kitchen Blackrock

Clodagh's Kitchen Blackrock is a new development for Clodagh McKenna, who has created a cosy niche in Arnotts on Henry Street in Dublin 1.  Located on the upper floor in the Blackrock Shopping Centre (on the same level as Superquinn) the restaurant is quite Avoca-esque in its decor, with comfortable banquettes and booths, marble topped tables and pretty cottage style flowers in water glasses.



When I entered through the door on the Main Street adjoining the car park, I was confused.  The lower level was empty and appeared to be set out as a wine bar.  I walked up the steps to the main restaurant and hovered at what appeared to be a hosting area, unsure as to whether staff seated customers or it was a make your own arrangements system.  After an awkward few minutes while staff walked past me, I decided to sit at an empty table for two facing the rest of the restaurant.  I waited, and waited, and waited some more.  Eventually I had to resort to waving at a young waiter to get a menu (which was already showing signs of wear and tear with greasy finger marks). I know the restaurant is only newly opened but at that stage I already had a sinking feeling about how things were going to go.  You will forgive average food if the service is sublime, but never the other way around. It took three attempts to order a drink (Con Trass's excellent apple juice) which took 15 minutes to arrive and four separate staff tried to take my food order, after it had already been placed.


My Scotch Egg and Rosemary Sea Salt Roasties arrived a further 15 minutes later and it was a very pretty plate indeed.  Served on a bed of beautifully dressed Gold River Farm rocket, the egg was perfectly cooked and surrounded in a sausage meat and crispy breadcrumb shell.  Three different coloured tomato wedges accompanied the egg.  The red and yellow were perfectly ripe, but the green one was harder than a banker's heart and could have been used as a deadly weapon. The single chutney and single cucumber pickle were tasty, however the Roasties were heavy on rosemary and far too light on the sea salt, a complaint echoed by the couple beside me.


The food is good but the service needs serious and immediate attention. There was no evidence of anybody leading front of house, the young staff were running around like headless chickens, not clearing tables, not checking back on food and just appearing as if they didn't have a clue what they were doing.  I understand that Blackrock is only new but if the staff aren't trained from the beginning, customers won't return.  None of the customers seated around me were happy with the service or the system of paying - you walk to to the till at the main door to pay.  However, no table has a number so it's a bit of a farce when you point down to the area you were sitting and the poor person at the till has to play Twenty Questions about what you ordered.  There's also some unforgivable spelling errors on the menu (my particular bugbear) and the very short wine list on the menu I saw is very pricey indeed.

In conclusion : a great idea, a lovely space but a lot of work needed to bring Blackrock up to scratch.

Clodagh's Kitchen, Blackrock Shopping Centre, Blackrock, Co. Dublin
Tel : 01 212 2981

27 comments:

  1. Ugh! horrible coffee as well!

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    1. Actually, the coffee there comes from 3FE which is as good as it gets...

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    2. Might be 3FE but if its made badly its bad coffee...

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    3. They ve changed the coffee now and its really good!

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  2. It's always a shame when the service lets down the food.

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  3. I loved the food in her Arnotts one but felt the same about service and staff. Might put off trying Blackrock now too.

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  4. I gave Arnotts two goes but was disappointed both times so never went back. Disapointed both with the food and service. Headless chickens were running it I thought.

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  5. Isn't it amazing how poor service can ruin a total experience... Some people suggested to me, I should have walked out, but that would have been unfair. I sat for the whole experience so I could be honest and truthful about my visit. I'm aware that they're only newly opened, but if you're charging full price from the off, then you need to be on top of your game to justify it.

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  6. There is so much nonsense talked about coffee that I thought I'd add a line or three, from the perspective of someone who has been roasting his own beans for the past 10 years, during which time I've witnessed many changes. Incidentally, I use the same supplier as 3fE and I would say it's true that Steve Leighton's greens are as good as any you can buy.
    However, coffee nerds are, by and large, fashionistas and trends vary like hemlines. Currently the fashion is to roast quite light, so as to get more of the origin of the coffee - remember coffee beans or 'cherries' as they are called in the trade, are a fruit - in the final drink. To aid appreciation the French press (cafetiere, to you) has also swung back into favour and the Aeropress invented.
    The effect of roasting on coffee beans is much akin to that of oak on wine - the darker you roast/longer you keep a wine on oak the less the fruit flavours come through and the more influence the roasting/oak has. In Italy they roast quite dark and the further south you go, the darker they roast, producing a very strong coffee with toast, dark malt and bitter chocolate notes predominating. The 'let's roast lighter' movement was initiated by the Americans and Scandinavians, the latter being the world's biggest coffee drinkers.
    However, the average coffee drinker here likes his/her cappuccino with a bit of 'bite' and if you do add milk to coffee in any form the lighter roasts start to taste a bit anodyne.
    We might get used to it in time or, alternatively, the fashion for pale roasts might change.

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    1. Scoop, thank you so much for your clarification on the coffee. Your experience and wisdom is much appreciated.

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  7. You have given them a lot to think about here... and the template for a few training days if they're smart.

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  8. Sometimes it's difficult to be entirely truthful. It may be seen as unfair or unpopular to give an honest opinion. I admire your sincerity in voicing your opinion and noting your observations. I spoke to a family member who waxed lyrical about food they had recently in another Dublin restaurant but the service on the night ruined it for them. It's important that new businesses get feedback. Then, and only then, will they become a success if they listen to their customers.

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  9. Just visited this morning - and have to say very disappointed in the service,food and especially the price.
    Coffee and scones - coffee €3 that is about the upper limits and ok. Each scone was €3.50 - this I think was too expensive, scone itself was ok - I would not be going back for the scones. Very small portion of butter, jam and cream provided for the scones. We had to ask what kind of jam it was. One coffee was sent back cold - overall would not rate the coffee.
    Location ambiance decor all very good - pity about the service, food and price. May need a period of time to "bed in"

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    1. Oh, that's so disappointing to hear. Hopefully things will improve

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  10. Tried Encore downstairs where the scones are amazing for €2.50 with jam and butter and cream if you like, no extra charge! Coffee is actually very good and the staff very pleasant. They have been there for years it seems!

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  11. Milo O'RiordanJuly 13, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Four of us visited last night. Starters main courses and desserts were very good. However, my wife had the coffee which was dreadful and could not drink it. The restaurant was packed. Did not have a problem last night with the service and found the staff friendly and helpful. Glad to see that they may have rectified their teething problems in that area. We eat out regularly and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Will indeed return and are very happy that this restaurant has opened in the area.

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  12. 13th July, 2013
    My husband and Ihad dinner in this restaurant last night and thoroughly enjoyed our meal.The food was superb and that includes the coffee!I loved the décor and the staff were extremely helpful and friendly.Will definitely be back in the fture.,

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    1. Milo and Anonymous, I'm truly delighted that you both had a great experience, although opinions on the coffee remain mixed! It's good that you both had great service. Hopefully this remains consistent...

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  13. Dreadful meal there on Sunday, service also abysmal but the coffee was the worst. Wouldn't drink it if it was free. Sorry to be so negative given the current climate where restaurants are closing every week but also the prices were an insult. They had better fix it quick as there will be no repeat custom at this rate.

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    1. It seems that their coffee is divisive. I personally love 3FE coffee but it's not an opinion shared by everybody

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  14. Howdy, was there for lunch this week. The decor is excellent, the food very good, the service very pleasant but terribly slow.....

    The coffee was interesting. Probably more of a London connoisseur coffee style than Italian ie very strong and concentrated (ristretto).

    All in all I hope that the service is ironed out, as its the easiest piece to fix, and the other elements work well

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  15. Tried to book a table for 3 for dinner on a friday night and was told they only took bookings for 4 people or more. No explanation given. Thought they would be glad of any business.

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  16. The atmosphere is fine, a bit noisy, but being from New York, I am used to that. I like the design of the space. Clean, bright, yet warm, welcoming.. The staff are polite, helpful, kind. Clodagh, herself seated us, and was lovely and sincere.

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  17. Great to hear you had an enjoyable visit

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  18. We went there last week. The service was horrible -- we ordered 3 salads and 1 soup. It took at least an hour for the food to arrive, and when it did it seemed that they were leftovers from the day before. For example - the garlic bread tasted like it was made a few days ago, was horribly stale and had a really funny after taste, actually, everything else tasted funny too.

    When we complained (the only reason we had eaten the food was that we were so hungry) we got a somewhat rehearsed response about problems in the kitchen: "No electricity, and then there was no gas, and then no electricity again", but we could have another free coffee and a cake. Well if you've read any of the above reviews the coffee wasn't great -- and we certainly didnt want to try any more leftovers.

    Hopefully they fix it, but I'm not going there again.

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