The old Birds on Bree Street had been in operation for a good decade or longer, serving as a very reliable breakfast and lunch spot. The food was locally inspired, country-style cuisine served in a space with a similar old country setting in its, still very prominent, heritage building. But forget what you know about the old Birds, because quite a bit has changed, and pleasantly so. Mink & Trout, named after the two existing owners, has managed to gracefully move the restaurant into a fresh dining experience that fits in perfectly with Bree’s modernised and ever on-trend dining culture.
The décor, created by Attik Designs, has transformed the farm house feel into a contemporary space with retro designer furniture and lush velvety fabrics, with subtle hints of glamour in brass and rose gold finishes. The soft, moody lighting, exposed original brick walls and the general subdued colour pallet, created a very sophisticated canvas for dinner. This is also complimented by a really well curated, relaxing playlist that solidified the ambience and tone for the night.
The menu is well balanced between fish, chicken and red meats, with vegetarian being not as bleak as usual. We steered away from anything too meaty, and stuck in the vegetarian and fish region which was done really well on all accounts.
For starters a trout, asparagus, leek and lemon ricotta tart, topped with a medium boiled egg in a thin crispy batter and garnished with fennel. The dish showed sites of the old Birds, with country elegance and subtle flavours; no one element overshadowed the other, it was simple, light and fresh.
For mains we ordered the ceviche, gnocchi and the fish of the day. Both the ceviche and the line fish were hake, a fish that most disregard but I was pleasantly surprised.
The reason for the simple choice of fish is that Mink & Trout really strive for sustainability in their food offering. Hake might sound boring, but in actual fact, cooked or prepared with a bit of imagination and care, it can be just the opposite, which was proved on this particular night. Never did I think I would get to eat a hake ceviche, but with its orange pearls, saffron, pickled vegetables miso and cream cheese dressing, the simple hake became this creative and Summery dish that belonged far away from any fish and chip shop.
The gnocchi threw me slightly as it is served in a deconstructed style, not something I am used to with gnocchi but if you can get your head around that then its an easy pleaser. It’s served with spinach, homemade pancetta (vegetarians can opt out here), a variety of mushrooms and a pine nut and Parmesan sauce and topped with a poached egg (poached eggs feature quite a bit). Despite the nutty, cheesy flavours being really tasty, I would've preferred the gnocchi mixed in with the mushrooms and sauce
Dessert was the chocolate torte and crème brûlée. The chocolate torte was a trendy flourless one that had a great nutty flavour which would’ve been from a nut flour substitute. It sat on a layer of white chocolate ganache which complimented the strong cacao flavour and was topped with almond brittle that was quickly devoured. The crème brûlée was very tiny and definitely cannot be shared but it was as smooth and as creamy as ever.
It must be said that the service was impeccable. Everyone who helped us was really attentive without being over bearing, and the friendly nature of all who work there is felt as soon as you enter the door.
All-in-all, a truly lovely dinner spot, and I have no doubt the same applies to lunch. The space is stylish and comfortable with an ambience that puts you right at ease. The menu is large and unique enough to ensure a steady stream of diners at this reinstated establishment. I know I will certainly be back.
Food24 booked unannounced and paid for the bill.
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- Ceili McGeever