Stephen Mc Allister is a talented boy.
I’ve known him since the days when I was making his tea as a runner on ‘The Restaurant’ series for RTE, back in 2007. He was, like the other kitchen team chefs Gary O’Hanlon and Louise Lennox, essential to magic of the show and making the guest chef feel relaxed. So I made good tea. Fast forward, and while I was lucky enough to get to produce and direct the show, he went on to open the wonderful ‘The Pig’s Ear’ restaurant on Nassau Street. It is my brother’s favourite restaurant and a place where I have had many a treasured evening.
Stephen is very good at keeping his supreme talents hidden. He is modest and any compliment is met with a ‘Ah go ‘way,’ but his food won’t let him away with that humble nonsense.
He’s recently opened the very special ‘Chef’s Table’ at the top of the restaurant. It seats eight people in a gorgeous room overlooking Trinity College. I have had the good fortune to taste a lot of Stephen’s dishes over the years, whether on the show or in his restaurant. This however, was something utterly wonderful. A night, and a meal, apart from anything else.
Stephen and his second chef Anthony, worked calmy and gracefully in the tiny open kitchen just a few yards from the table.
We were presented with dishes from cute and tiny, like the pickled onion and goats cheese which was a zingy, creamy tingle across the tongue. And the chicken skin with cream cheese and rye was wrapped in parchment to be revealed with the unclasping of a tiny peg. It was a perfect mini smiley, crispy sandwich.
There was something to coo or gasp about the every course. Truffle butter anyone? The gem of the night was the best fish dish I have ever tasted. Burnt halibut with artichoke, brown shrimp, golden raisins and chicken jus. It was flappingly fresh, meaty but delicate, with each element on the plate working in some kind of sweet and earthy symphony. I could have eaten that alone and been happy.
Everything about the evening was creative and true and delicate and exciting. And utterly delicious.
Exactly what food should be.
Pickled Onion – Goats Cheese
Chicken Skin – Cream Cheese – Rye
Oat Bread – Deviled Egg – Smoked Trout Roe
Maple – Egg – Whiskey
Sourdough Bread – Truffle Butter
Crab – Celeriac – Fennel – Butermilk– Sesame
Mackerel – Lemon & Squid – Cucumber – Apple – Horseradish
Frozen Foie Gras – Beetroot – Mead Jelly
Burnt Halibut – Artichoke – Brown Shrimp – Golden Raisins – Chicken Jus
Pig Belly – Mustard – Date – Spring Onion – Ponzu
Beef – Celeriac – Watercress – Truffle – Leek Ash
Buttermilk – Rhubarb – Ginger – Honeycomb
Upside Down Cheese Cake
Chocolate – Banana – Vanilla
Guinness Cake – Hazelnut
Passion Fruit Flogs