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Ouzos Restaurant Dalkey.

Ouzos

22 Castle St., Dalkey, Co. Dublin.

+353 1 2851890

Price: € 60-120 (for two with wine)

Hours: Open from 12 noon for lunch and dinner.

Review

Ouzos is on Dalkey's Main Street. It's a long, thin dining room and there's an upstairs as well. There's a bar counter just inside the door on the left, a couple of tables at the window, and the rest of the tables are down the length of the room's banquettes on one side, tables for two on the other. The decor is simple but pleasing and the tables are nicely set with good cutlery and linen napkins.

The menu is a large A3 sheet and is divided up into appetizers, salads, steaks, seafood and other meats. There are five main courses under €20 and three starters under €10, so this menu perfectly fits the standard for value for money.

The wine list is average in length and interestingly designed in two halves, the first listing the wines, the second listing them again with a description of each wine. I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc at €5.50 and a large bottle of sparkling water at €4.50.

Marian began by ordering the duck foie gras terrine and followed that with the rack of lamb. This review meal was actually my second visit as I'd dropped in before Christmas to have a look and I'd tried a couple of dishes, so this time I had an opportunity to see if there was consistency. I ordered the same dishes as before: potted crab and shrimp followed by fish and chips.

Good homemade breads came with wine and water, and shortly afterwards the starters arrived. Marian had a slice of terrine served on brioche with a little wild rocket on the side. A delicious plum relish, sharp and tangy, came with it and it complimented the fatty texture of the terrine perfectly.

The dish I'd ordered came in a low-rimmed oven dish and the crab and shrimp were served in a creamy sauce with a gratin topping. I suspect that this dish could well become one of Ouzos' signature dishes; it was well made, tasty and nicely presented.

Marian's main course, the rack of lamb, was one of the more expensive dishes on the menu, at €26.95. Instead of the standard three-rib rack, she had a four-rib rack, cooked perfectly pink and served with a herb crust. A garlic and rosemary jus topped it and steamed new potatoes accompanied it. This dish is cooked to order, so if you want it you'll need to wait half-an-hour.

I had three pieces of haddock fillet on my plate in a crisp batter, and with them I got think-cut homemade chips and pea puree. Fish and chips may be a simple dish, but when it's done well - as it was here - it's a pleasure to eat. I even ended up dunking my chips into the ramekin of tartar sauce.

At this point we decided that a dessert between us would end the meal perfectly, so we picked the strawberry fool, which came served in a large Martini glass. Slices of strawberries soaked in booze gave texture to the creamy fool and between up, like Jack Sprat and his misses, we licked the bowl clean.

A cup of tea for Marian and an espresso for me finished the meal which we both enjoyed. It takes a brave man to open a restaurant when others are closing theirs, but I suspect that the Ouzos formula will work, even in the belt-tightening times of 2009. The food here is simple, well-sourced, cooked well, cleanly presented, and the service is quick and courteous. Couple that with affordable prices and it looks like Ouzos will become a Dalkey mainstay. Our bill came to €84.75 without a service charge.

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