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Kicky’s review: Original dishes and full throttle flavours in new restaurant that has set Instagram ablaze

This stylish new restaurant from the former Chapter One head chef is fully formed, straight out of the blocks

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Address: South Great George's St, Dublin 2, D02 WK13
Telephone: 01 9061008
Cuisine: Modern International
Cost: €€€

It is opening night at Kicky’s. I know. But Insta had been ablaze with tantalising dishes from the soft opening and the word on the street was that it was faultless; there was not a single glitch. It is impressive, even for a team as seasoned as Eric Matthews, the former head chef at Chapter One, and Richie Barrett, who is an experienced operator.

It is close to being full when we arrive, and we head down to the back “where the action is”, a round table close to the semi-open kitchen and across from the bar. It is a high traffic area but we barely notice. Matthews is in the kitchen, clearly relishing the more casual approach where flames from the charcoal grill are putting on quite a show.

Small plates, sharing plates, pasta, and meat and fish cooked over fire are the core of Kicky’s menu. But there is originality here, on the page, and even more so when it lands on your table.

Potato focaccia with carbonara butter (€6) sounds like it is there to do the bread role (no pun intended), but brace yourself, because not only is the focaccia top tier – a chewy crumb in a crunchy crust flecked with salt and rosemary – the carbonara butter is revelatory. It is what you would imagine would happen if you mixed carbonara sauce with butter (except better), and then sprinkled it with grated cheese and crispy shards of guanciale.


I try the croquettes (€8 for four) because it says there is Taleggio in them, a squidgy cheese that could certainly hold its own on a five-a-day cheese diet; but brace yourself again, because these are another surprise. Crispy on the outside, nearly like a gougere encrusted in spicy nduja, a stream of melted Taleggio pours out of the warm shell as I bite into it.

From the sharing dishes section, the Roaring Bay mussel tartare (€16), mixed with smoked eel and taramasalata, is hidden under a cloak of finely sliced kohlrabi which tastes like it has been pickled with a ponzu marinade. It is an inventive dish that would work in a smaller portion as the intensity of the umami flavours make it very rich and a little overwhelming. Perhaps share it with four people.

We refresh our palate with a bottle of Mazzei Tenuta Belguardo Vermentino (€45) from a list, that with a few exceptions, starts at €40. It is designed to have broad appeal, so you will find Young Turk producers like the Miguel brothers of Artuke and Elisabetta Foradori as well as more familiar options.

From the pasta options, I swerve the egg yolk ravioli with autumn truffle butter, because, you’ve guessed, it has truffle oil, that vengeful stuff which bears no relation to real truffles, although there are a few grated over. Instead, I opt for Lambay crab cacio e pepe (€16) which is lick-your-plate clean delicious, even if the sweet chunks of crab are a little lost in the sauce.

Brill on the bone (€39), cooked as an individual tranche over charcoal, is a sizeable middle piece, so it is succulent inside with a charred, salted skin. I love that it is served with Castletownbere shrimp and Lisadell cockles. A lemon butter is a good accompaniment, but for my taste, I would hold back a little on the dashi and bonito vinegar which bring a touch of sweetness. Our side of Ballymakenny Dunbar potatoes with confit garlic (€6) is incredible.

Desserts are skilful and delicious (€12.50), and we inadvertently end up having two as the wrong one has been ticked on the electronic pad. Go ahead, they say, enjoy the eclair while we get the dessert you ordered, which just typifies the friendliness and polish there is to the service here. The eclair, which is filled with poached quince, little nubbles of chestnut and a spiced rum namelaka, is autumnal yet light. The “Irish Coffee”, Matthews’ Irish take on a tiramisu, is divine – a chewy meringue style biscuit beneath a boule of intense coffee ice cream, peppered with the crunch of coffee beans and a drift of whiskey, all topped with a dollop of cream.

Kicky’s has flung open its doors as a fully-formed, very appealing restaurant. The food is inventive, original and skilfully cooked with flavours that are ratcheted up to full throttle. It is a room that you immediately want to dine in with a buzzy atmosphere and notably good service. It looks like it is going to be everything they had hoped for.

Dinner for two with a bottle of wine was €148.50.

The Verdict: Original dishes with flavours at full throttle.

Music: A good list with Jungle and Ric Wilson, Chromeo and A-Trak.

Food provenance: Wrights of Marino, Kish Fish, Glenmar, beef from Peter Hannon, Flaggy Shore, and Sheridan’s.

Vegetarian options: A bit limited: olive, almonds, focaccia, egg yolk ravioli and cheese. There is no vegetarian option in the grill section.

Wheelchair access: Accessible with accessible toilet.

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly restaurant column