Swords has only one bistro.
There are two Indian restaurants, a Mexican, a handful of Chinese spots and a selection of steakhouses. There are more bars offering pub grub than you can shake a stick at, and a couple of artisan food parlours.
Yet Essence remains to be the only bistro; but it’s a very good one at that.
Essence is run by Chef/Proprietor Robbie Burns, a Swords native who has black belt experience in the restaurant industry, having worked as a chef in Bon Appetit, Fallon & Byrne and the Mount Juliet in Kilkenny.
The combination of his culinary skills and eye for detail has resulted in an innovative menu comprised of local and seasonal ingredients which is easily the most sophisticated in Swords.
For my sister’s 18th birthday, we kicked off a week of celebrations with a family dinner at Essence. We chose Essence for three things; a varied menu of excellent dishes (there is something to suit all tastes) good atmosphere and great service. Those three things are consistent each time we visit, no matter the time frame. It was also a particularly good choice of restaurant that night as it lashed rain non-stop. We could all relax knowing we weren’t too far from home and didn’t have to drag ourselves into the city in that weather!
My sister and I started with a cocktail, as that’s what every good birthday girl should do, and naturally I volunteered as her partner in crime. The waiting staff at Essence make a great cocktail, and at two for €10.00, they’re even better. This is just one of their good value offerings. The birthday girls choice was the Cherry Picker – gold tequila, cherry brandy and apple juice.
I had the New Yorker – scotch, grenadine and lime. This cocktail was so lovely, I ended up sticking with it for the night, and availing of the two for €10 deal with me, myself and I.
There were quite a few of us at dinner but I took photos of the dishes closest to me. We did all order something different though…as I said earlier, there is something to suit everyone.
I ordered what I always start with, because I love it! Fivemiletown goat’s cheese (the best kind, really) and beetroot salad with chardonnay dressing and candied pecans. The goats cheese is deliciously creamy and slightly tangy. The beetroot adds a lovely texture and the candied pecans make it. A light and perfectly balanced dish.
Other starters at the table were piemontese beef carpaccio with celeriac, balsamic and horseradish…
…and chicken liver pate with brioche and onion relish.
The chicken wings were a very popular choice and I heard very good reviews from the top of the table about the mackerel starter…but with no picture of either, you’ll have to take my word for it.
Each dish was wonderfully presented and one of these days I’ll convince myself to take a break from the salad and order the smoked salmon. Smoked over oak chips, I hear the presentation of this dish trumps all others and causes quite a flurry of excitement. You’ll just have to wait until I report back after my next visit, or order it for yourself!
On to the main course, and the birthday girl can forever say she experienced her very first taste of pork belly at Essence, and loved it. Free range pork belly served with red cabbage, creamy potato and scallops. Pork belly and scallops isn’t a combination I have ever seen on a menu before, but I really hope to see it again. I was given a scallop to try and it was cooked to perfection as expected.
My main course (and the starring image of this post) was the Kerry Hill lamb shoulder. The presentation again deserved top marks, and to my delight it was served with more soft peaks of goats cheese. The lamb shoulder was flawless. I barely had to put any pressure on my knife, the meat just tore away…soft as butter. It was the best lamb dish I have had in some time, which I was very impressed with. Potatoes and spiced aubergine were great accompaniments and left me satisfied. A real comfort food.
My brother (at times, a little more fussy) had the beef burger, topped with bacon and cheddar (or cashel blue if you prefer) served with a cute little basket of fries all of which he enjoyed.
As for dessert, I can’t comment this time around as I made my sister’s absolute favourite to bring to the restaurant. I arranged the cake with Trish, a very friendly and most helpful waitress who always looks after us really well, making sure we have everything we need.
If you’re looking for dessert inspiration on a visit to Essence, their creme brûlée with almond biscotti never disappoints.
Situated opposite Penney’s at The Pavilions Shopping Centre with Airside, Dublin Airport and the M1 just minutes away, the location is ideal. Essence Bistro effortlessly encompasses wonderful food, ambiance and value without compromise.
For more information, click here for the Essence Bistro website.
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