Pebbles Cafe, Blacklion Retail Park (where Lidl is), Greystones, Co. Wicklow.
I know the words Cafe and restaurant do not normally belong together, but Pebbles Cafe have actually managed to pull off being both.
Evening dining is just starting this week and this review is as a result of being invited for a preview evening. These are the evenings where things usually go wrong if they are going to, but I have nothing but good things to write about Pebbles Cafe after my dining experience.
The evening menu is decidedly different both to their daytime menus, but also to any of the existing menus in Greystones.
I started with their Ginger Sweet Potato Spring Roll with sesame fried York cabbage and chilli coconut cream. Divine! The chilli was not overpowering, instead allowing the full subtleties of flavour to delight my tongue.
When I think of spring rolls I automatically think of those small things full of bean sprouts you get from your local chinese. Beautifully presented resting on a bed of fried cabbage which in turn sat amid a sea of coconut and chili sauce on a rectangular plate, this spring roll was much larger than I expected. In fact portions in general were very generous.
My dinner companion had a Goats cheese salad as a starter, and it too was exceptionally generous. It was also extremely tasty. I am not a fan of walnuts, but there was none of the usual bitter taste, which seemed to be subsumed by the other ingredients. My lasting impression of it is of a delicately balanced dish.
Do not come to Pebbles for food in the evening if you are in a rush. This is not because service is slow, it is not. Rather it is because you should leave yourself plenty of time to really savour the flavours. The service and atmosphere lend themselves well to a leisurely dining experience.
I have to admit that I was somewhat reticent about the idea of eating an evening meal in a cafe premises. Those thoughts were unfounded. Once seated the music, lighting, staff and decor all combined to make me very relaxed in my surroundings. My company was good too and that always helps!
Moving on to the main course, my partner had a Roast Chicken Breast with lemon stuffing, garnished with roast courgette and carrot puree with tarragon cream.
The roast chicken was slightly crispy on the outside and wonderfully juicy inside, with the lemon stuffing permeating the meat and helping to create an overall impression of lightness in what was, once again a very generous portion. I love tarragon with chicken and the courgettes and carrot puree were, I felt, an interesting choice to go with the chicken. It worked beautifully.
I had opted for the Grilled Rib-Eye Steak for my main course. I partly chose this simply because there was no pepper sauce option on the menu. While I’m sure I could have had some if I wanted it, I took the opportunity to have the accompanying bearnaise sauce as a change from my usual rather predictable choice. My steak was cooked to my specification (medium) and I was delighted to see that it actually was a medium.
People say that you should not order steak if you are trying to assess a chef because anybody can cook a steak, but in my experience that is just not true. I have had plenty of rubbery experiences. This steak was cooked perfectly though. Succulent and tender enough not to require a steak knife at all. I will not be so quick to chose a pepper sauce in the future as I was in the past. The bearnaise sauce let the full flavour of the meat meet my taste buds uninterrupted by the harsher pepper flavour I am more accustomed to. There was also a slow roasted tomato with my steak. This was the least exciting element. If the steak had been dry I would have been glad of the moisture, but it was not and to my mind the tomato added colour to the meal, but little else.
The crowning glory of my main course was the homemade chips. They were simply fabulous. Chunky, and cooked to be neither too crispy or too soggy, we ate more of them between us that either of us really needed.
In fact we ate enough chips to have to pause before moving on to our deserts. This gave us time to finish off our house wines, which were a good choice, since I would not have chosen better myself.
I settled on a Chocolate Brownie with Hazlenut Ganache (glaze or icing to you and me). It was very different to what I was expecting. Rather than being extremely stodgy and heavy it was instead extremely light and more lightly chocolate flavoured than that sort of sticky goo that I had in mind. Had I known I may not have gone for it, but once I had I really appreciated it. It seemed to me to be the perfect way to end my meal, whereas a heavier, gooier brownie would have been at odds with the rest of the dining experience. I would opt for it again had I not tried the Eton Mess that my partner had.
Eton Mess, for those of you that don’t know (as I didn’t) is essentially a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue and cream. I have never seen it on a menu here ever, but it should be a staple on all dinner menus because after a large meal it is extremely easy to eat.
I have mentioned a few times that the portions were generous. I think there are two extremes that Irish restaurants tend to find themselves at – either having portions so small that a tall man like myself leaves still hungry, or so heavy that you leave feeling almost immobile.
At Pebbles Cafe, they have struck the balance well in my opinion. I would rather leave a little on my plate than go home still hungry, and as it happened I cleared every one of my plates and left without feeling hungry but importantly without waddling!
I have eaten in all the Restaurants in Greystones and felt that Pebbles Cafe would have a hard time keeping up with the overall high standard in the town. It was a great pleasure to find that they had no problem in not only keeping up with their competition but in defining and carving out a new niche for themselves.
I think they have priced themselves very well too. Mains range from €18 to €22 which is excellent value for the quality of food that they deliver.
Pebbles cafe truly is a restaurant on a par with the very best of what Greystones previously had to offer in the evenings. I have heard good things about their daytime offerings too, and I will post about them when I have had tried them myself.
For reservations call: 01 2016594