NEDE, Dublin

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Look at this: it’s a piece of fish skin.
It’s a small piece of dried cod skin, and on top are an anchovy cream, leaves of marjoram and dill, and some dried dilisk. It looks like the most precious jewel.
And that is exactly what it is: a precious thing, a gemstone of flavour, a diamond of deliciousness. It is worth a fortune. Not a fiscal fortune, but a fortune in that it is a happening that makes your life turn out better. You eat this precious thing in NEDE, and your life just worked out well. It is harmony in action.
And look at this. It’s a piece of warm sourdough bread. You want to eat it but, first, you want to cherish it. Hold it to your nose, inhale its aromas. Now, put a little lick of that creme fraiche butter on it, and pop it in your mouth.
Bread and butter? Bread and butter! Bread and butter harmony.
This is what Louise and Yannick are doing in NEDE. Their cooking has perfect pitch. It’s the sort of food that makes you think not simply of hard work and learning and graft, but instead of some innate gift, something denied to others, something inherent. You can’t just make bread and butter and fish skin taste like this if you are a cook. You need to be more than a cook. You need to be an artist.
Eating the food in NEDE will remind you of the first time you ever saw a movie by Jean Luc Godard, or heard Bob Dylan sing, or read “The Waste Land”. It’s like everything else out there, but yet it’s also totally different. The molecules are lined up differently, the progression is polyphonic. It’s mesmerising.
And all you’ve done is eat some bread and butter and some dried cod skin.
Whoa! Is it all like this in NEDE? Pretty much. The magic dust is sprinkled generously throughout the dishes: terrific raw razor clams with fermented kelp and cucamelon; see-through-thin field vegetables with smoked goat’s cheese; a meat board of charcuterie from ED Hick with some outstanding lardo; a tiny baby chicken with tarragon sauce; stupendous black treacle ice cream with baby sweet corn and blackberries. Only the dish of roasted leg of lamb with mustard sauce seems, by comparison to these avant garde concoctions, to be a sop to those who want their meat and veg.
But otherwise, the jewels are abundant: an amazing lovage ice cream; marinated gooseberries with green beans and lardo; a brilliant pine ice with buttermilk ice cream; the tiniest baby courgettes grilled and served with cherry tomatoes.
NEDE does two things: it makes the familiar unfamiliar, and the conventional unconventional. Everything about it is avant garde – the cooking, the service, the orientation.
But one element of the performance is conventional: NEDE wants to delight you, and it wants to delight you by offering the greatest food they can make. NEDE makes everything precious.

John McKenna