This Valentine’s Day, I treated myself (and my boyfriend who was more than happy to comply) to a meal at the newly-opened An Dárna on Friars Street.
The restaurant specialises in small plates as part of a five-course ‘tasting menu’ for £35 per person. We also opted for the ‘drinks pairing’ at an additional £25 each, which might sound steep, but for ten large glasses of wine among two lightweights, we were more than happy – and a tad hungover the next morning.
The wine is recommended to you based on your food order and, although I’m no wine connoisseur by any means, you can taste the sheer amount of thought that goes into pairing each dish with its accompanying wine.
Now onto the food – I’ll stop teasing you. The star of the show HAS to be the treacle braised beef cheek which I, devastatingly, didn’t order for myself but ended up stealing a bite or four from my boyfriend’s plate.
The duck breast with raspberry ketchup, beetroot terrine and pistachio granola was a rogue savoury-sweet bombshell on the menu – for which I had my doubts at first – but it was absolutely to die for. And of course, my chronic sweet tooth was more than pleased with the dark chocolate delice for dessert.
The menu was diverse to the point that it was borderline impossible to narrow down my choices, even in a restaurant that serves you five dishes, but I guess that gives me a valid excuse to go back. They offer everything from pork belly to seafood, as well as some stunning looking vegetarian options.
With a menu that switches up every five weeks, there’s no risk of flavour fatigue here… although I’ll be devastated when the treacle braised beef cheek is no longer available.
I was a tad worried before our visit that a small plates ‘tasting menu’ would be too pretentious for me. What can I say: I’m a simple girl, I go hard for my Nando’s and Pizza Express.
However, the staff were incredibly down-to-earth and happy to answer any daft questions I had about specific dishes, ingredients and what even is a ‘cinnamon jus’?
The restaurant is also on the ball when it comes to allergies which was a major green flag for my boyfriend who is allergic to peanuts. The staff kindly assured us that nothing would be off the menu, rather they would just ensure that any satay sauces or peanut garnishes weren’t included in our meals.
In my eyes, the only downside is the price which is perhaps too steep and unrealistic for a student budget. However, An Dárna has seemingly read the room and now offers a ‘Sunday Countdown Menu’ where you still get five courses, just from a reduced list of options. This also comes with three glasses of paired wine and will cost you £44, rather than the £60 per person we forked out during the week.
It’s safe to say that An Dárna is now a firm favourite of mine and I’ll be making any excuse to visit again; whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary or a visit from my parents (and their bank cards). The food was exceptional, the drinks went down an absolute treat and, most importantly, the staff went above and beyond to make sure this was a Valentine’s Day to remember.
Featured Image Credit: An Dárna