Forchetta Italian Restaurant Crown Plaza Blanchardstown
Forchetta Italian Restaurant is in the Crown Plaza Hotel, near the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre. The hotel is bright and airy, very modern and nicely decorated. The restaurant is situated off the lobby, and the décor is striking and contemporary. So far it sounds like an average hotel restaurant. It’s not. It’s so much better.
I have eaten in Forchetta a couple of times, as one of our business partners is nearby and it is handy for a bite and a chat, so when we thought about reviewing it, it was as a good place for a business lunch or dinner, rather than in the expectation of really interesting and authentic Italian food. However, it’s all changed, and with a new Italian chef called David Suleymano, the food is hitting very high notes indeed. We went along one Thursday with my friend Trish Scaife to check it out. We were should to a nice table by the window, given lots of homemade Italian breads and sparkling water to keep us going and set about deciding on dinner.
The menu is a list of classic Italian dishes with a range of antipasti like suppli di riso, an antipasto all’ Italiana, insalata Miste de Mare and a Caprese salad. There are two soups, Minestrone and a fish soup, and next are listed the pasta and rice dishes, in the Italian style. There are about ten of them including a seafood risotto, tagliatelle with lamb ragout, Parmigiana and the ubiquitous Bolognese and Carbonara. The carbonara is listed as containing cream which may freak out the purests, but in fairness most Irish people expect it, and if you ask they are happy to do it the traditional way with just eggs.
Main courses include a choice of steaks, roast lamb shank, seared tuna and grilled black sole with shellfish and garlic butter. After much debate it was decided that Trish would start with the antipasta, followed by the pasta with lamb ragout, while I asked for a starter portion of seafood linguine, followed by the sole. A bottle of their blah blah completed our order.
First up was a complimentary taste of mini calzone pizzas, which were light and delicate and got us off to a good start. The starters were exceedingly good, with the antipasta served on a curved bread board, with good Mozzarella, a selection of thinly sliced meats and roast vegetables with cheeses and olives. The secret here is good ingredients, and they were. My pasta was a bowl of perfectly cooked linguine with prawns, mussels, clams and squid, bound in a white wine and cream sauce. The flavours of the fish really came through and it was delicious.
Great starters don’t a great meal make, and this is where some restaurants fall down – great starters, great expectations and then a let down. We needn’t have worried. Trish had the tagliatelle al ragout d’Agnello, which is a sauce made with lamb, tomatoes and red wine, and this one was very good indeed, but it was the sole which stole the show. I received a huge piece of grilled fish, on the bone, with shellfish piled at one end and served with a simple garlic butter. No piles of garlic potatoes, no fussy presentation, no distractions. Just an immensely good piece of delicate fish perfectly cooked. It was wonderful, and I ended up sharing some with Trish who was equally enthusiastic. We finished with a selection of desserts, and tiramisu, panna cotta and chefs granny’s cake.
It has been a while since anywhere surprised me in such a pleasant way. The bar has been seriously raised in Forchetta, really good food at very reasonable prices. The black sole was listed at €23.95, and was one of the more expensive items, but I have seen this listed at well into the thirties recently. We ate from the A la Carte, but they run a set menu each evening with two courses for €19.95. David and his team should be proud; this has to be one of Dublin’s better Italian restaurants.