Etto in Merrion Row is a delight of a find, where the most important things count – namely the food. We recommend that you try it for yourself.
Having just had one of the best, most satisfying, meals of my life, nothing would do me but to rush home, whip the dust cover off my typewriter and get the word out to (both) my adoring fans.
So what can be so good about ‘Etto‘, now that we are supposedly knee deep in ‘fine dining experiences’ all over our capital city? The food. It’s that simple. So, a Friday lunchtime, and Engineer Ed, my twice a year luncheon companion, and I roll up at the door of this relatively recent venue.
The room is plain with white walls, blackboard with specials and 12 or 14 (I forget) tables for two. So, there is seating for only 24 / 28. Unusually small but I understand that, so popular has Etto become, that there is more than one sitting in an evening. No table cloths, crisp linen napkins, simple glasses and elegant cutlery. No elaborate themes created by interior designers. Nothing for one of those ‘get the look at home’ articles beloved by Sunday colour supplements. No distractions, just the buzz of conversation, and some oddly chosen music (maybe some more thought might be given on that).
From a lunch menu that offered three choices in each course (2 courses €20, 3 courses €25) we chose Vitello Tonnato (a carpaccio of veal with a tuna mayonnaise and fried capers) and lardon and chicken liver terrine with pickled prunes. Normally, I am not a squabbler in public places, but we did have some fractious moments agreeing some swops and ooh-ing and aah-ing over the wonderful tastes. Classic stuff, executed with care and skill. The carafe of red wine (from the Veneto region of Italy, at €20 for a half litre or €30 for the amount a bottle would hold) was a perfect accompaniment, rounded and fruity. A word about the wines; they are clearly carefully selected, but the entry point for a bottle of wine is €28.50 so that does have an effect on pushing up your final bill.
My ‘featherblade’ cut of beef (cooked on low heat overnight) arrived, with a bowl of fabulous soft polenta with plenty of parmesan added. The beef was covered in a duxelle of mushrooms and was so tender that the back of a spoon would have sufficed to cut it. Ed, enjoying his pan fried cod basted in butter, was however moved to beg, sorry, request, a taste of my dish. You can gather from all this that we were more than happy. We needed two more glasses of the same wine to see us through to the conclusion.
This time, we didn’t have desserts (we were heading off somewhere with time a slight constraint) but when I get back to Etto, and that is going to be sooner rather than later, I am confident that they will live up to the standard set by the first two courses.
Oh, and no star-chef. No one who might flounce off into the night, leaving the place rudder-less. As I said, it’s all about the food. Rush there. Now. Tell them that I sent you.
18, Merrion Row
Tel: 01 678 8872
All images courtesy Etto Facebook page