THE URBS INTACTA GETS A DESTINATION RESTAURANT.
22 High Street
Phone: 051 325 174
Irish Daily Mail
7 July 2018
The constant quest for the good stuff carries on and I have to say that the bush telegraph can often deliver the goods. A few months ago this network of information intimated that something interesting and exciting was about to happen in Waterford, one of my favourite Irish cities.
And so it has proved, with the return of Peter Everett to his native Urbs Intacta. After Cathal Brugha Street he worked with Michael Quinn at Waterford Castle, then at Chapter One with Ross Lewis and latterly with Graham Neville at Restaurant Forty One on Stephen’s Green. In the world of Irish food, pedigrees don’t come any better than that.
Everett’s has opened in what was, long ago, David Dennison’s Wine Vaults, close to the cathedral and the Theatre Royal. We went for lunch on a sweltering Summer day, basked in the coolness of the air conditioning and had an exceptional lunch. And, because Irish people go somewhat mad when the sun shines for more than a day, we had the place entirely to ourselves. On a Saturday, which is rather shocking when you consider what kind of food is being served here.
From the moment the bread arrived, still warm from the oven, it was clear that this is what you might call a destination restaurant. There was an ethereal baguette and a dark, treacly, nutty soda bread that suggested almost an Irish take on pumpernickel. With butter, you could live on it.
One starter involved a little salad of white crab meat salad bound with mayonnaise and served with a little fresh tomato juice and seasoned with a little pesto.
The other was an interesting take on rillettes, made with free range pork from the excellent Andarl Farm, with beets and cherries. The rillettes were silkily smooth and so dense and compacted that they didn’t need bread or toast for spreading, the gloriously concentrated pigginess enhanced by the earthiness of baby beetroot and the savoury sharpness of cherries.
It’s always tempting to misquote Archbishop Cranmer and refer to the piece of cod that passeth all understanding but the one here, served with a prawn and brandy bisque was certainly beyond my ken in terms of how perfect it was. It was one of those moments when I was able to tell myself, quite truthfully, that I couldn’t possibly do this at home.
There was the piece of cod, indeed, skinless and cooked to the nanosecond of just-doneness, sitting in a shallow pool of the most concentrated, rich bisque imaginable, the kind of bisque that could be diluted to make perfectly acceptable lesser bisques that nobody would complain about. A bisque to conjure with. It was outstanding and, in combination with perfectly cooked cod, was, well... just perfect.
Our other main was perhaps not the most Summery of dishes. Slow cooked lamb neck, a cut full of flavour, had been deboned and formed into a kind of cylinder and topped with a mint and mustard crumb. With impeccable potatoes boulangère (let’s see more of these please), a purée of fresh garlic, baby broad beans and a little wilted lettuce, this was pure Gallic indulgence. Bistro with real style, élan and éclat.
We finished with, and shared, some Irish cheeses in excellent condition, including the Wexford take on Époisses, the lovely, spoonable Hummingbark, and a blissfully beautiful and simple dessert: purée of fresh peach, that tasted intensely of itself, topped with a little burnt butter sponge, in turn topped with a velvet-smooth, hauntingly exotic elderflower sorbet.
This was even better than it sounds, Summer distilled and served on a plate. It was the best pudding I’ve had this year.
Everett’s is a gem. It’s not for everyone, of course. If you judge a restaurant on quantity rather than the quality of the food, you will possibly feel let down. Everett’s is about something else entirely, the transformation of good raw materials into something that lives on in memory long after the last forkful has been swallowed.
Beat a path to its door. With four glasses of wine, our bill came to €81.