I’m not sure how Cúán Greene cultures his butter. Perhaps the chef plays New Yorker podcasts to the cream as it is churned to a glistening slick so pale it is the colour of margarine. But holy cow it’s good, a statement of intent for what’s to follow. Sit up straight: there’s a new level of cooking in town, a homecoming that you’re going to want to taste.
We’ve been here before. My fangirl crush on Bastible caused a stampede when it first opened back in 2015. The chef Barry Fitzgerald had returned from London, started Etto and then set up Bastible, his own restaurant on Dublin’s Leonard’s Corner.
Greene was graduating with a culinary arts degree (and the David Gumbleton talent award) the year Bastible opened. He began a supper club with his fellow graduate Harry Colley and then went to work in Copenhagen. He was in the kitchen at Geranium when it was elevated to three Michelin stars, then headhunted to Noma and was part of the Noma Mexico team, cooking over fire in the Tulum jungle on the food adventure of a life time.
Barry Fitzgerald's sourdough is the best in the business, a tangy elastic doorstop with biscuit-crisp crust. And now it's slathered with Cúán Greene's gorgeous butter
So, after three years in Copenhagen (and Mexico), he’s home in Dublin with a plan to open his own place somewhere down the line. But for the next year, he’s head chef in Bastible. It’s a marriage made in a particularly delicious corner of heaven.
Fitzgerald’s sourdough is the best in the business, a tangy elastic doorstop with biscuit crisp crust. And now it’s slathered with that gorgeous butter.
The pre-menu “nibbles” are a put the fork down and shake your head level of tastiness. There’s a pumpkin seed puree with lovage pesto that looks low-key but dings all the bells. Cooleeney churros are pinkie finger-sized sticks of crunchy creamy heaven and a cube of “Nashville fried chicken” is the kind of crowd-pleaser Greene could build a soul-less but lucrative franchise around. There are morita chillies in the batter, the Mexican dried and smoked jalapenos wrapping the brined meat in a crispy hug of smoky heat.
After that, I head into the territory of the vegetable tasting menu. This is not a phrase to set your heart beating in an Irish restaurant. Until now. Greene delivers the first dish to the table which, like the Irish summer, gets us off to what he says is a chilled start.
It’s a tomato water (or broth) with borlotti beans and skinless cherry tomatoes which have the texture (and nearly the flavour) of strawberries snaffled out of the jam saucepan just before they’re cooked.
Liam has the spiced beef across the table, not the Christmas boiled leathery version but thin slices of a soft, spiced carpaccio, lying under a carapace of purple endive. The idea is you cut down through the leaves like it’s all meat. There are cubes of smoked eel here too. It is superb, marrying bitter, savoury, sweet succulent meat and a deeper smoky kick, the most innovative and delicious surf and turf you’ll eat anywhere.
There are Knockalara cheese dumplings that could be prescribed as beta blockers they’re so comforting. Gobstopper sized, light cheesy dumplings are swathed in an aerated cream and butter sauce with Roscoff onions to slice through with sweetness and sprigs of camomile to add another game-changing edge. I end up asking for a spoon to eat the sauce, which is mostly melted butter. A wedge of sourdough is called upon.
Liam has a lovely plate of lamb which would be a wow somewhere else but here the delicious meat with baked kohl rabi and smoked yoghurt seems a bit ordinary as opposed to the extraordinary of everything else.
Bastible is a beautifully memorable food experience, a steal at €55 for the tasting menu, and the start of something truly bloody exciting
I’m all the happier with my pot-roasted cauliflower, a small wedge of vegetable cloaked in a brown buttery miso crust, juicy and meaty, but not. Last year’s Noma vegetable season menu featured slices carved at the table from a kebab spit packed not with slices of meat but slices of celeriac caramelised and softened and sweetened after being given the same reverence as a meat roast. Greene’s pot-roasted cauliflower is a lesson in the same idea. Treat it like meat and it will eat like it, or in this case maybe even better.
We share a round of smoked yoghurt woodruff cream. The woodruff is hard to find, Greene tells us. There’s a location near the Glen of the Downs that his foraging WhatsApp group is guarding jealously. It is wonderfully and differently delicious.
So don’t all rush at once, but do get to Bastible. After being named the world’s number two restaurant last month, most of us will never get to eat at Noma, even if we could pony up the guts of a grand that the table and travel costs. Bastible is no poor woman’s consolation prize. It is a beautifully memorable food experience, a steal at €55 for the tasting menu, and the start of something truly bloody exciting.
Dinner for two with sparkling water, two glasses of a wine and a kombucha came to €126
- Verdict A new philosophy and a new era for a much loved restaurant
- Facilities Downstairs
- Music Nice
- Food provenance Not much written down but ask and you'll get a full picture
- Wheelchair access The room is accessible but not the toilets
- Vegetarian options The best in Ireland