Jump to content

Corinna Dunne

eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by Corinna Dunne

  1. On the Irish front, congrats to Cliff House in Waterford, I must get there now. Disappointing to see that MacNean House didn’t even get a rising star.

    On the Bibs, no surprises that La Maison kept the Bib that La Maison des Gourmets had, and good news for Nick Munier’s Pichet as they are obviously not looking at awarding an Arbutus-type star this side of the water. Looks like The Winding Stairs’ loss was The Pig’s Ear's gain, will be good for getting them back on the radar. Ironic that Bang lost its Bib just as it has gone wallop.

    The glaring omission on the Bib front once again is Alexis Bar and Grill in Dun Laoghaire. I cannot understand how they don’t have a Bib. They are doing everything right, the food is fantastic and it is about the best value around.

  2. I agree that Ananda is not at star level, I was just referring to speculation in the Sunday Business Post

    It may be located in a shopping centre but, to misquote Oscar Wilde, Ananda is looking to the stars. Having won Chef of the Year, Sunil Ghai looks set to win Ireland’s first Michelin star for the New Irish. This would be no surprise, considering Ananda is a collaboration between Ghai and Britain’s first Michelin-starred Indian chef, Atul Kochhar.

    And no Tonto, I don’t think that China Szechuan has any aspirations in that direction at all, I just think if there was to be a star awarded for ethnic cuisine, it should be ahead of Ananda.

    I don’t think that Pearl or Dax are contenders either. I had a very good lunch in Pearl earlier in the summer (much better than the much lauded One Pico deal IMO), and the place is really lovely since the refurb, but I don’t feel it’s at the standard. And Dax, as you say, quite clearly have no interest in a star. One of my favourite places, although I had a very disappointing lunch there about 2 months ago.

    Unfortunately I haven’t been to Thornton’s in ages, my brother was there on Sat, so must get update from him, and based on your comments Patrick, it sounds like a visit is long overdue. I was in L’Ecrivain earlier in the year but not since Stephen left; friends have been and say that it’s the same, no slip in standard.

    On Pichet, I don’t think they’re after stars, but if Michelin is looking for a bistro deluxe to award, it is certainly at the right level. But yes, all eyes will be on Conrad Gallagher next year. I loved his food at Peacock Alley, it was so exciting at the time when he opened, so despite his much publicised past (and future), I’m looking forward to him being in the kitchen again, and particularly at those prices.

  3. Meanwhile across the water in rain drenched Ireland….

    We’ll be one star down as Dylan McGrath’s Mint restaurant was a casualty of the recession and is no more. All the others, should be safe, with no changes, they all fought hard to keep open during the downturn (well, apart from Chapter One which is constantly booked out), a valiant lot, deserve their stripes.

    Neven Maguire’s MacNean restaurant in Cavan had a Michelin visit, apparently they found some of his dishes too complicated (not in relation to other top end restaurants I would have thought) but liked it overall, so hard to gauge if they are going to award it a star this year. It’s a glaring omission IMO, the country’s top destination restaurant outside of Dublin, and certainly ahead of one of the most recently awarded stars.

    Critics’ favourite for a new star is Ananda, a joint venture with Atul Kochhar and Sunil Ghai. I’m not familiar with what it takes to get a star for ethnic cuisine, but it doesn’t feel one star to me. The room is not great (upstairs in an upmarket shopping mall, baby highchairs on view as you walk in one of the doors), and the food is certainly good, but I thought lacked a bit of crispness. Still, the Kochhar pedigree will probably stand to it. China Szechuan is a far better overall experience in my view.

    Most exciting opening of the year was Pichet, jointly headed up by Nick Munier of Hell’s Kitchen fame and Stephen Gibson, former head chef at L’Ecrivain. Very much in the Arbutus/Wild Honey mould, the focus is on really good food at a reasonable price, so if they keep up the standard, could be looking at a star in 2011.

  4. So glad you enjoyed Deanes olicollett. I was there a few weeks ago and had an outstanding tasting menu with matching wines. I think the food there is better than ever, Derek Creagh is a great chef, and the desserts were again, particularly good. We had a quick chat with Toby from West Wing who was dining there that evening, which added to the fun of the evening. We have no shame!

    Interesting that you also comment on the service. It is exceptional, perfectly pitched. Deanes won the Best Service Award at the Irish Food & Wine Awards on Sunday, and Michael Deane joined the Hall of Fame elite. So, a good year for them, and well deserved.

  5. If you do opt for lunch instead of dinner at Wareing, the smaller room, which is brighter feels less formal during the day, so perhaps ask if they have a window table there. The lunch is great value, all the frilly bits, right down to the bon bon trolley are included, and the simple broad bean soup I had for starters there a few months ago was outstanding.

  6. Deanes continues to be very good, so highly recommended. The lunch is exceptionally good value, but for the full experience, go for dinner. James Street South is also excellent, and for casual seafood, the Mourne Seafood Bar is great.

  7. His dish looks the dogs goolies, however cold soup?

    As it happens, I had an excellent cold bean soup (no goat's cheese) in Marcus Wareing about 6 weeks ago (that lunch time menu is fantastic value). It really did taste of summer, but I agree, not one for the troops.

    I think Marcus is looking very comfortable in his role. There seems to be a good chemistry between the 3 chefs also, which makes for good viewing.

  8. And I did a piece in The Sunday Business Post here.

    Basically McGrath said that despite the restaurant being full, spend was down 60% and the tapas menu he introduced to keep people coming though the door had cannibalised his trade. Most damaging was the drop in spend on wine which was central to the viability of his business.

    He said that after the TV show and being awarded the Michelin star, business had been booming and he was trading out of the losses he had built up at the initial stage.

  9. I don’t agree with that sort of behaviour at all, and yes, it's doubly stupid in the current climate.

    I’ve never witnessed an incident like that in Mint, but think that apart from the colourful chef, the reason a lot of people didn’t feel relaxed was because of the small room. Tables were tightly packed, the service was formal, and you could feel the strain the floor staff were under trying to manoeuvre in such a compact space. If a customer got up to go to the bathroom, their trip across the floor interfered with the service. And of course, once you got to the bathroom, the kitchen acoustics were audible :biggrin:. I do feel a better room in the city centre would have made all the difference to the overall dining experience, and a larger kitchen would have made all the difference to Dylan… and his staff :biggrin:. But ultimately, even though he was full at the weekends, the spend had dropped to an unsustainable level. And realistically, with the economy in tatters, opening a new restaurant cooking at that level is unlikely to be a runner.

    That said, L’Ecrivain was buzzing on Friday night (apparently some of the corporate spend is back, but he can’t be making anything on lunch), and Bentley’s, well, it’s not just about the right thing at the right time, Bentley’s would have worked in Dublin if it opened 10 years ago. Mind you, I heard a few complaints about Christophe, the new Maitre d’ at Bentleys. It seems he could improve his manners, particularly in relation to how he treats his staff in front of the customers.

  10. Clearly good chefs do not necesarily make good restauranteurs. One of the most common mistakes is that they put themselves before their customers..critical mistake in any business.

    Not sure I'm with you on this one.

    In what way does the customer suffer because a chef is ambitious? In Mint, the dishes were constantly evolving; rather than churning out set pieces, it was always a work in progress. Dylan worked to very tight margins, which I appreciate doesn't make great business sense, but that surely was a benefit to the customer... as long as the customer can afford the benefit.

  11. Yes, a terrible shame. Impossible to make a small restaurant at that level work in a recession. Certainly, he gave it a good shot by introducing the tapas menu, but ultimately, that room, out of the city centre, was always going to be a challenge for him. Without a doubt, the country’s finest chef.

    Very nice comment from Derry Clarke in the Herald piece. I think a lot of people feel the same way.

    “It upsets me to see a restaurant of that calibre go, lesser restaurants I wouldn’t mind seeing them close, but not Mint,” said Derry Clarke, executive chef of L’Ecrivain.

    “People have their opinions of Dylan, but I’ve always liked him. He’s a brilliant young chef and it’s an awful shame to see him gone.”

  12. I missed the C4 series, which I'd love to have seen. But I still think that Ramsay is the one who really popularised the controversial TV chef. I've no idea of the numbers, but would assume that he's shot more series than most. Was MPW on US TV back then too?

    Without a doubt, MPW was a huge talent and a major force when he was cooking... but now... I think he's just creaming it and giving very little value for money.

  13. He has made it his gospel to preach about seasonality, locally sourced, seasonal, freshly prepared food. He even went as far as saying that out of season ingredients should be banned from restaurant menus.

    Making a quality product a few miles down the road doesn't mean that it's not seasonal or locally sourced. I think his approach makes perfect business sense.

  • Create New...