Monday, April 02, 2007

Fillet of Soul, Manorhamilton.

The road to hell is paved with chicken Maryland.

The gorgeous C and I dined late, and somewhat tiredly in The Fillet of Soul, Main Street, Manorhamilton.

The decor is pleasant. A nice, faux coal gas fire, wooden floors, high backed, comfortable, black and white leather-backed wooden chairs.

The service is friendly and relaxed - they accepted or quite aggressively casual attire (sorry gorgeous C) entirely without comment, and we were never far from the waitress's attention.

The entrance hall is liberally plastered with awards. Is it just me, or is the current trend in Irish food awards equally meaningful, and meaningless? Egon Ronays award for actually existing. In 1987. The Irish food guides award for having a toilet. An Bord Bia Silver service award for gainfully employing mouth-breathers. Bord Faillte certified Botulism free since 1998.

Anthony Armstrong is Public Relations Officer for the Panel of Chefs Ireland(salt dough castle anyone? WTF?) , and patron chef at the Fillet.
Which is presumably why he couldn't wait and let his food market itsfuckingself.

Ahem. S'cuse me.

I couldn't make head nor tail of the menu. I had a main of "Maryland Twist Breaded escalope, bacon, sweet corn hash and kebab fruit fritters". I could almost, just about almost work out what I was probably going to get (What IS a Maryland Twist? An escalope of what?). Though it took a while to not quite get it. When whatever it was arrived, a kebab of deep fried fruit was poking impotently at a flailing 45 degree angle from a circle of bacon and potato mash. Like some hideous, fruit themed, priapic salute. Like some....god....jesus....I can see the bastard flailing genitally towards me as I type....ugh, I had that in my some hideously flaccid citrus penis. Dipping pathetically as the waitress somewhat embarrassedly brought the bastard forth.
I may well have told the gorgeous C "Its alive", as lightning played apocalypically across my insane plate.

It was a mash, not a hash, a simple typo, I think, on the menu - though it could well have been my tiredness. The chicken escalope, some bizarrely flattened wafer thin disc of incinerated hate, had been tortured in a deep fat frier until its shattered remains were placed atop the carnage on my plate. Dry, dessicated, it was impossible to tell whether it had been breaded, or just dipped in flour and egg. And this chicken tasted like it had talked before the end.

The fritter kebab was an interesting idea. Deep fried kiwis, black and green grapes. And something else. Which is about as accurate as I can be. Served up in a wet,damp, soggy, flaccid and lukewarm batter. Terrible execution. And I have no idea what it was doing on my plate with a bacon and potato hash, and a savoury gravy. A bizarre and freakish combination. Terrifying to think of.
Chefs night off at the chippie, methinks.

The gorgeous C ordered,let me see....from memory...trout, mixed berries, scampi in a cream sauce with cajun.

Which didn't seem to make any kind of sense.

We figured it was a menu mistake. A typo. A firmatting screwup. Scampi and trout. Odd. Mixed berry what? With trout? And cajun? So we asked.

I had visions of some Aran-besmocked Pierre-monickered rusticism bellowing folkishy in an enthusiastic French patois before setting about our earholes with accordion accompaniment.
The gorgeous C suggested freshly grated Pierre. Folkishly so or no.

"Is this item correct?"
"With cajun what?"
"Y'know. With cajun."

With cajun was, apparently correct.

Maryland Twists. Escalopes of uncertainty. Grated cajuns jiggling Frenchly. The menu was the worst, most confusingly written, fundamentally flawed missive of its type I've ever encountered. I think one of the food items is actually the beginning of Finnegans Wake. Theres a zombie Joyce in the back of that kitchen. And he's paid minimum wage.

The trout was well cooked. As were the scampi (soft, slightly shredded almost, beautiful colouring and texture). All three of them. Hidden underneath the trout to prop it up at a jaunty angle. The sauce, with cajun, was too sweet, and too strong. Almost as if the chef were afraid of the flavours they had created. And with little or no of the aromatih heat and depth I'd expect from a cajun style seasoning.

Accompanied by boiled veg - carrots, broccoli and potatoes, if memory serves. Boiled veg.

The whole experience was odd. A series of individually interesting ideas slapped together on plates they should never have co-existed on. Some ideas utterly lacked simple, basic, good execution. The overall impression was of an enthusiastic amateur chef hoping to overcome the deficit of skill and experience through sheer imagination. And it didn't work.

The basics were all wrong. Incinerated chicken. Fucking up the deep frying is a sign of aggressive incompetence. Oversweet sauces. Limp damp, lukewarm batter. And plates which made no sense to the palate, the eye, or indeed the pocket.

Two mains and a coffee set us back the guts of €50.

Fillet of Soul. Take the awards down, spellcheck your menu. Then bin it, and rewrite a simpler less ambitious affair. Keep penises off the plates. And out of your customers askance and utterly smacked gobs. Tell your service staff whats actually on the menu. Limit your plates to five ingredients apiece. Learn to cook the basics. And then it'll be worth €30.
Fillet of Soul, Manorhamilton. Co. Leitrim, Tel: (0)71 9856053, Email:

1 comment:

Brian said...

Nice review, next time I am in Manorhamilton I shall pluck up courage and maybe go - you know just for the dangerous thrills such cuisine might throw up. If I am feeling less than brave I might just go to Aroma pizza instead.