Sseduced, 20 Cecilia Street, off Temple Lane South, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. +353 (0)1 677 9287.
The corner spot which houses the Sseduced restaurant is small, ultra modern and perfectly formed even if the name is not. Yes, there’s an extra ‘s’ at the beginning which stands for Sil, who is the creator of the menu. Just Sil, no other name on offer, a bit like Cher, or perhaps other great mononymous people like Colette or Stalin.
Anyhoo, I pitched up on a busy Tuesday evening, as I had enjoyed a lunch here previously. As yet they have no wine list but you can bring a bottle without corkage. I thought I’d try something quirky and as Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé at Fallon & Byrne I picked up a bottle of Beaujolais Villages Primeurs, Domaine de la Plaigne for €15. All fruity bluster, as you’d expect but not as awful as I remembered.
Nothing on the Sseduced menu is what it seems as all the food is raw as the temperature is only raised to 42 degrees when ‘cooking’. The belief is that by keeping the food below that temperature all the nutrients and enzymes are preserved. Unfortunately, this is not made clear to the diner either on the menu or on the exterior. The menu does point out that all the food is organic, raw, gluten-free, yeast-free, dairy-free and suitable for vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs. Carnivores will be profoundly disappointed.
To begin we ordered aromatic ‘bread’ of sunflower seeds with golden linseeds and olive oil which takes between one and three days to prepare. At €1.95 a slice it sounds steep but the name is misleading as these are more crackers (though less crispy) and a generous pile is delivered to the table.
The soup of the day was creamed almond soup (€4.95), and as it is served at 42 degrees, several degrees above blood temperature, it tastes neither hot nor cold. It is an acquired sensation and as parts of it fell below the agreed 42 degrees it won few fans at our table.
I had the warm ‘pizza’ with a base of sprouted gluten-free buckwheat and dehydrated golden linseeds. It was topped with almond, macadamia, cashews, tomatoes, peppers and olives so it had an interesting texture and would certainly satisfy me for a lunchtime filler-upper. But pizza? I think we need a different name for this.
For my main course I had the ‘noodles’ made from kelp seaweed, served with various vegetables and a creamy sauce which tasted a little of almond too. This was a filling but undemanding dish that was in need of contrasting textures and flavours.
We also ordered the wild rice risotto made with sprouted wild rice and served with baby tomatoes (€12.95). Apparently, this takes 2 to 3 days to prepare so the expectations were high but not matched by the reality. The curious texture and lack of layered flavours made for hard work and the term ‘risotto’ had your mind expecting creaminess.
It’s sayin’ something that the banana curry served with wild rice (€12.95) was the winning dish. Using bananas as a savoury ingredient is more often used to comic effect in film scripts than in reality. In this case the addition of some korma-like spicing lifted this above the other dishes though the wild rice seemed remarkably similar to the risotto.
By the time we ordered dessert there was only a carrot goji cake left, this had a waft of coconut and chocolate on top. Again, the philosophy of raw cooking meant the elements had not made that transmogrification to a new flavour of mature sweetness.
The concept of raw or ‘living’ food is one that would be easy to take pot-shots at but it is interesting, and popular too. Many foodies are suspicious of this kind of food as on the one hand it aspires to be pure yet it rarely talks of provenance (there was none on this menu). At times this ultra-nutrition focused approach demands high prices too as a 9” pizza for €39.95 seems somewhat luxurious. The food tastes more like food as fuel than food for taste and several dishes are only at the start of their journey to something interesting. The experience reminds me of the adage that dieting doesn’t make you live longer, it just feels longer. Others may enjoy the long and healthy route, I’ll take the short cut through the dairy and the butchers.
This first appeared in The Sunday Business Post, November 2013.