Uisce by Heaneys sits next door to its older sibling, and offers an altogether more casual vibe with a small plates menu in place of Heaneys’ tasting menus. It’s labelled as an oyster and wine bar but offers much more, its small plates menu to pick and choose from making it an ideal spot for a relaxed and delicious meal.
Needing to adapt for post-lockdown measures, Uisce reopened first in a large marquee in the restaurant’s car park, re-inviting diners inside in early September. Note that there’s only one regular table with chairs (for four); the rest of the seating is the kind of high benches and stools that look hip but are wholly unsuitable for many of us with mobility, hip or back issues.
The menu has crossovers with Heaneys, but it’s a build-your-own affair, with dishes divided into snacks, oysters, cold seafood, hot seafood and meat.
From Snacks, and Oysters, we ordered Buttermilk Chicken, Hot Sauce (£5). Wonderfully crunchy morsels of fried chicken came with lightly pickled cucumbers and drizzles of hot sauce; a great choice to start the meal.
Next, from the oysters menu, one plump, sweet and juicy Carlingford Oyster (£2.75), a fresh oyster dressed in Vietnamese style (£3.5), and a deep fried oyster listed as Crispy, Apple, Chorizo Iberico (£4). All three were excellent and showcased a great range of ways to enjoy oysters. The Vietnamese dressing combined sweet, salty, and sour flavours with the warmth of ginger and spring onion; the deep fried oyster sat atop a generous pile of pickled fennel and mayo, which were surprisingly delicious with the slice of chorizo and battered mollusc. And that plain one was an absolute joy, needing no adornment whatsoever.
The Cold section was so tempting we ordered all three items, plus one of the Hot dishes.
On reading the menu, I wasn’t sure about the marriage of oily fish and tomato, but the Mackerel, Tomato, Elderflower Ajo Blanco (£10) worked very well, and how pretty are those decorative squid ink tuiles? The garlickly almond ajo blanco was subtle enough to complement rather than clash, and the brightness of sweet tomatoes turned out to be a pleasing contrast to the mackerel. Surprisingly good!
Possibly my favourite dish of the meal, the Cured Monkfish, Broad Beans, Ginger, Spring Onion (£8) was absolutely packed with flavour, and I particularly loved the sweet addition of orange segments (and perhaps also zest?) to the fresh green of broad beans and spring onions. The fish was slippery soft, but not mushy – the meatiness of monkfish made it an excellent choice for this ceviche-like dish.
The Beetroot, Goats Cheese, Black Sugar, Seeds (£6.5) made us realise we’re simply not adventurous enough when it comes to making the best use of beetroot, usually roasting it plain and tossing cubes of it into salads or quiches. Not only was the dish beautiful to look at, the contrast between sweet beetroot, creamed goats cheese and mixed seeds gave us variety in every bite.
One large scallop served in three large chunks, the XO Scallop (£11) was expensive but worth every penny, and another of my favourite dishes. The sweetness of the scallop flesh against the pungent, salty, XO sauce with its punch of dried seafood and chilli, was so well balanced. I’d wondered whether the XO would cancel out the scallop, but the scallop totally held its own!
Unable to choose between the two desserts, we ordered both. As you do.
The silky smooth texture of the Baked Buttermilk, Summer Berries, Elderflower (£6) was seductive, and the tang of buttermilk paired superbly with sweet and juicy fresh berries and berry sorbet. I couldn’t pick out the elderflower flavour, but the whole dish was wonderful.
So too was Chocolate, Blueberry, Yogurt, Sesame Seed (£6), served with a scoop of caffe latte ice cream. I loved the intensity of coffee flavour in the ice cream, strong without any bitterness, but also not overly sweet. Likewise, the chocolate mousse delivered a beautifully balanced dark chocolate hit, neither overly sweet (as chocolate mousses so often are), nor too bitter, and again, its texture was silken and melting. The sesame brandy snaps contributed crunch and sweetness, with little bursts of juiciness coming from the blueberries. For me, the yoghurt jarred, it’s sourness too astringent for the gentle flavours of chocolate mousse and coffee ice cream, it was the only sour note of the dish.
I must say thank you for a particularly lovely and personal touch. Having tweeted my excitement that morning about our imminent anniversary visit to Uisce for lunch, we were given this sweet card shortly after we sat down. Since the (modern) gift associated with 26 years of marriage is artwork, it was charmingly appropriate!
We absolutely loved our lunch at Uisce. With every dish bringing joy and delight, this is very much our kind of small plates menu, and we’ll certainly be back for more in the months to come.