When chef-turned-influencer Eric Matthews announced the opening of his own restaurant alongside industry stalwart Richie Barrett, expectations were understandably sky-high.
Former Chapter One Head Chef Matthews amassed a loyal following with his online cook-alongs during lockdown, and his playful personality shines through the carefully compiled menu at Kicky's.
Dubliners who came of age in the city's brunch heyday will remember Kicky's new George's Street home as San Lorenzo’s, the home of coco pop french toast and quick weekend turnover times. Now, The Christopher Walken signage has been removed from the front door and if you were hoping for a cheeky walk-in at the brunch spots' replacement, think again. It's tightly booked up well into January, with dates for February and March filling up fast.
A glance at the restaurant's Instagram will show you playful takes on dishes that are always popular in Dublin restaurants, cleverly reimagined to establish a unique, inimitable offering. Carbonara is served in whipped butter form with rendered guanciale plopped on top, served with a warm hunk of focaccia. The impact of salt on salt with the butter on guanciale makes for a satiating start that would take the edge off any grumbling stomach. It's an instantly identifiable dish, one that most people will most doubt see through Instagram reels and Tiktoks with folks outwardly ripping the bread and dunking into the light mess.
It's the dish we start off with, and it doesn't disappoint. You think you know focaccia, but until you've tried Kicky's sizeable chunk you really have no idea. Crunchy with just the right amount of oil on the outside and fluffy as a Florencian cloud on the inside, the focaccia is the kind of bread that evokes an emotional reaction, and spreading the carbonara butter on top elevates it even more. The butter is unapologetically cheesy (my favourite kind) and I think it's safe to say you won't find another bread starter like this anywhere in Dublin.
Next up is the Roaring Bay Mussels and like everything else on the menu, they're not what you expect. The broth is kicked to the kerb as the molluscs are steamed and chopped, covered with thinly sliced kohlrabi and topped with delicately sliced smoked eel. This is the most herb-tweeze-y, fine dining-y dish we've tried, and it's great - the umami of the mussel mix combined with the crisp crunch of the kohlrabi forms a bite that'll have you trying to sneak more than your share of this sharing plate.
The mussels are swiftly followed by the cacio e pepe, the poster dish for everyone who's been on a long weekend to Rome and wants to tell you that the best pasta dishes are really simple with only a couple of ingredients. By the time we get into Kicky's the earlier addition of crab to the dish has been omitted - what remains is the perfect combo of intensely aged pecorino with the obligatory earthy pepper kick, enveloping the substantial strands of homemade bouncy pici pasta.
The Wicklow venison is one for the dads - served on the bone and surprisingly tender, this dish is meat on meat on meat with a side of house morcilla (Spanish black pudding) and smoked bacon. The tenderness is down to Kicky's opting for the Barnsley Chop - a vessel for extra locked-in flavour and moisture. With a pretty hefty price, it is a bit of an oversight for this dish to come without any kind of side.
Finally, out comes the "Irish Coffee" - the compact dessert dish which is what we imagine would happen if a tiramisu and an Irish coffee had a baby. A small, round meringue-style biscuit is topped with intense coffee ice cream and a grating of nutmeg, again providing a playful take on a classic.
Kicky's is, as we mentioned, booked up through to the new year but if you're happy to wait (we promise it's worth it), you can secure your 2024 booking right here.
Images by Emily Mullen