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Corinna Dunne

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Corinna Dunne

  1. Yes and no. ← What did you think of the food, leaving the health aspect aside?
  2. My thoughts exactly. Very mean spirited. And the fact that my tax pays for these stupid, petty, completely pointless police actions makes my blood boil. They seized a handful of bottles of spirits... what a waste of time. ← Pun intended Corrina?? ← Not intentional…. Maybe I should claim it as innate I’m no expert on licensing, but as far as I know a restaurant wine licence costs a few hundred euro, whereas a licence that covers the sale of spirits costs in the region of three grand. And yes, cognac counts and would require such a licence, although this is one of those trivial things that is generally ignored. Which leads me on to conspiracy theory number two. Perhaps a disgruntled customer who fell foul of the reservation policy and had to cough up for a no-show decided to level the score. Plenty of local legal types.
  3. My thoughts exactly. Very mean spirited. And the fact that my tax pays for these stupid, petty, completely pointless police actions makes my blood boil. They seized a handful of bottles of spirits... what a waste of time.
  4. Friends of friends were witness to an unusual incident in Mint about 2 weeks ago. Apparently the Garda (police) raided the place in the middle of a dinner service and seized all bottles of spirits because the restaurant (like most restaurants) only has a wine licence. Sounds like they were using a bulldozer to kill a fly, and why in the middle of a meal service? Anyone heard if any other restaurants have been raided for this heinous crime?
  5. It's very difficult to replace Jan Moir... I've can't understand why they saw the need for a change in the first place.
  6. I would love to see your top five, or more, even if not in order of merit.
  7. And the winner is: Daniel Cox, a 26 year old who works for the fine dining division of Compass Group at UBS in London. He trained at Westminster Kingsway College, then joined the brigade of The Greenhouse restaurant in Mayfair before moving into contract catering, which led to his current position with Compass Group’s fine dining division, where he has been head chef for client UBS for the last two years. This was his third attempt at the competition. He was a regional finalist twice before.
  8. Thanks augustine. I haven't been, but I've heard similar reports, so will probably hold off a while longer. It sounds like it's pretty popular though, considering the lamb had run out by the time you got there.
  9. Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex (Michelin 2* chef of Auberge de l’Ile in Lyons), has signed a lease on Lundum’s on Brompton Road and plans to open a small fine dining restaurant in early summer. His business partners for the new restaurant are Jean-Michel Aulas (background in software and president of the Olympique Lyonnais, France’s leading premier league football club), and City trader Marc Grosjean. The word is he’s taken a flat in London, so will be around for quite some time, but the make-or-break person is inevitably going to be the head chef. His name is quite a mouthful… anyone tried his food?
  10. It did look a bit 'plain' alright... he mentioned that he might change the dish if he gets further, as there is an option to change one dish on the menu.
  11. Have you seen red currants paired with rosewater before? This is a pairing I have intended trying. When I was gathering red currants in my mother's garden, the smell of roses was wafting around the place and I thought the two would make good companions. I think the judging will be very interesting this evening... the pre-promotion bit has it well teed up.
  12. eje - Thanks for all of your contributions, in particular, your input on the UK and Ireland Forum when you were over in Dublin a while back.
  13. Actually, I don't think the fact that its a formal competition makes any difference at all. I've seen an exactly similar attitude in restaurant kitchens around the world. It's certainly not being exhibited by Haworth. It comes down to the difference between calm self assurance and unwarranted arrogance and more importantly the gap between having the technical ability required to acquit yourself at the highest levels in a professional kitchen and the next step which is being a bloody good cook. ← I think you’ll find it outside the kitchen too… and not just on The Apprentice. Very often, people who are obsessively driven come across as self-obsessed and arrogant, but because there’s a big pool of people out there you will also find plenty who are the opposite and wonderfully balanced. This is a production team’s dream and makes for good TV, so I’m not a bit surprised that they were pushing Tony to get a few good soundbites. IMO, a personality type shouldn’t be used as a yardstick for judging the food, nor do I feel that it is safe to assume that calm = skill/technical ability, arrogance = lack of ability. I fully accept that some people make a choice to only patronise the nice guys, which is their prerogative. I have never been to either restaurant, but based on the programmes this week, I would love to visit both.
  14. Yes, I thought both of last night's dishes looked very strong. Really enjoyed it. Probably got something to do with it being a competition.
  15. It was due to open mid-April, but the word in the Irish Times this weekend is that it will open at the end of the month. Apparently Sunil Ghai has been busy honing his skills in the kitchen with Atul Kochhar over the past few months. The plan is that Ananda, the Dublin restaurant in the Dundrum Town Centre, will be a less expensive Benares. www.anandarestaurant.ie
  16. I see Gordo (3 hours 45 mins) was beaten by Michel Roux (3 hours 28 mins) in the London Marathon yet again. Apparently next year is going to be his last one. It will be his 10th.
  17. No update there. The Stokes twins (of Bang Restaurant) are focusing all their energy/money on their new club, Residence, due to open soon.
  18. Richard Corrigan, who is no longer involved in The Mill and Cafe La Serre at Lyons Village Kildare, is to open a new restaurant in Dublin. After much talk about an on/off deal with Browne's Hotel on Stephen's Green and speculation about an alternative site close by, the word is that the Browne's deal is on. Some more detail in the Irish Independent here (no subscription required) although some factual errors (Ramsay has 9 hotels total, 8 in the UK, it says... no mention of Prague, Tokyo, Dubai and Versailles... and Marco has 30... hmm, not exactly his in the same sense of the word so hardly a robust comparison). The market in Dublin is becoming saturated but a Bentley's style restaurant is a niche that is crying out to be filled as the Saddle Room in the Shelbourne did such a woeful job in this area. This will probably be the most interesting opening of the year. Apart from that, there's talk of Ramsay opening a Maze restaurant in Dublin and Nobu rumours are still doing the rounds. Marco/Dettori will be opening a trattoria at The Point, and Georgio/Stokes will be opening a more casual-style Italian restaurant near the Unicorn with promises of great pizza.
  19. A bit late with this. Here’s a review I did just before Mint was awarded a Michelin star (it’s shamelessly hammed up for a women’s magazine ): It’s not what you’d expect in a restaurant. After a good 30 minute rendition of Hell’s Kitchen–style f’ing and blinding overheard through the walls that protect the diners from the chef, the noise level in the little dining room kicks up to an oh-my-God-he’s-really-killing-them notch, only to be interrupted by the strident holler of an ambulance. And it’s coming our way. The lights progress from Chelmsford Road, blaze through the two frosted windows of Mint, the whole room goes quiet, there’s not a peep from the kitchen and we watch as the lights come to a halt by the restaurant side door. Is it the chef or his sous? Is it a stretcher or a chair? Please tell us, is there any blood? But all is well in the kitchen of a thousand knives and it appears that we will not be enjoying our 15 minutes with Charlie Bird recounting the events of the evening. It’s probably just a neighbour who can’t take any more of the swearing. But our meal is wonderful; we leave with yet more Dylan McGrath stories and a slight uneasiness about the sanity of this culinary magician. Me? I like my artists raw, just on the right side of tortured, preferably at the point before the ear becomes dispensable and plops into the court-bouillon. And Dylan McGrath, the head chef at Mint fits the part heroically. He openly admits to going through ten chefs a week in the early days at Mint. Having met the original Perfectionist, Bernard Loiseau, at his famous Côte d’Or restaurant in France many years ago, and found his questioning about how I enjoyed his food to be on the charming side of reasonable, and having subsequently read about how he killed himself, I tread carefully when writing about passionate chefs with insatiable ambition. But six months later, things have changed. Dylan, with a face made for TV and soulful brown eyes, has thrown himself at the mercy of a TV documentary crew and they’re shadowing him, recording him, editing him. He is what they call ‘great television’. And by the time you read this, you will know the end of the story. You will know whether the inspectors at the Michelin Guide have deemed him worthy of a coveted star. The Oscars of the culinary world. You may have to wait months for a booking in his restaurant (even Sienna Miller had to wait a night for a table, yes, Dylan did get to kiss her, albeit in front of Rhys Ifans), and he might just be the hottest date in town (Trevor White, who knows a babe magnet when he sees one, is already doing a ‘dya wanna be in my gang’ dance at his restaurant door). So enough about idyllic Dyl. What about his food? Well some would have you believe that it depends which side of the culinary fence you’re on: unfussed food versus molecular malarky. But this, as far as I’m concerned, is to totally miss the point. So I bring along a number of potentially dissenting female voices on my next visit to keep me on the culinary straight and narrow. Dylan is looking relaxed as we walk through the door. ‘Shouldn’t you be in the kitchen screaming at people like a proper chef?’ I ask. ‘I’ve got a good team in place,’ he smiles, the Jimmy Nesbit accent sending excited Dyl chills up the spine of every female; he flashes the big browns around the room, strides into the kitchen and we sigh, now that’s what we call an appetiser. We settle into our table which is barely elbow space away from the table beside us. This is not the best room in town. Our amuse-bouche arrives: three beautiful Japanese-style dishes with the most sensuous treats you could imagine. We work through the layers of perfectly pitched textures in each pot. A brandade foam hides an avocado purée which has an incredible sweet/sour balance and is followed by a layer of red pepper jelly. Another pot has a tomato gazpacho foam, fennel cream and a basil and fennel jelly and the last pot has a hot foie gras mousse, diced truffled potato and is topped with a foamed potato soup. Our appetiser follows: a cassonade in a white asymmetrical bowl. It is a delicate, savoury custard which has its origins in Japan but the taste is solidly French. A celeriac foam yields to a custard made from langoustine stock which is lifted with chervil and the result is sublime. And then on to our starters. They range from €26 to €40 for the langoustines which I cannot resist. My outlay is repaid with two enormous, perfectly roasted langoustines served with a sharp kick of apple purée. On one side is a piece of Jubago ham, on the other, apple sheets cover two cubes of pork belly. Three perfect cubes of warm apple jelly punctuate the presentation and a warm apple juice is poured over at the table and finished off with Jubago oil. This is a perfectly resolved dish which manages to tie all of its elements together. There’s clarity and a great burst of flavour. The other starters are equally good. The roasted scallops (€30) are served with a warm skate terrine and confited duck, the dish pulled together by the unifying flavour of a balsamic shallot sauce in each component, and the beautifully plated, poached, wild salmon (€27) which is served with pickled golden beetroot and paper thin slices of marinated cucumber is a lesson in restraint; the raw, fresh flavours ringing through. The côte de boeuf for two (€80) is one of the more expensive mains, but a finely constructed dish. On the plate is a deliciously, sticky piece of pressed slow-cooked flank, bone marrow with sea salt, a crispy beignet of escargots, and exquisite, bright green, parsley gnocchi; and the large rib of rare beef is carved and served table-side. A menagerie of pots includes a red wine sauce, parsnip purée, and mashed potato with a potato soup foam on top. The serving is unbelievably generous, nearly enough for four. An apple themed pre-dessert with layers of jelly, purée and sorbet arrives in a kiln jar and is followed by a passion fruit dessert (€22) which is as witty as it is wonderful. A passion fruit shell is filled with delicate coconut cream and mango purée to resemble a boiled egg and coconut tuiles pose as toast. On a separate plate, two ravioli made from slices of mango are filled with passion fruit tapioca, a bright yellow passion fruit sauce is spiked with the cooked black seeds of the fruit and a coconut froth drifts ethereally across the top of the dish. We finish our meal with lollipops made with popping candy, froths, sorbet and secret centres and we’re smiling with delight. The room is buzzing with laughter and happy diners. But there is one exception. The lady at the table beside us remains on the other side of the culinary fence. She has eaten in some of the top restaurants in the world, and run a leading restaurant in Dublin, but this food is just not her thing. But my mind is not changed. In my book, Dylan McGrath is the best chef cooking in Ireland today. The food is way beyond one-star level, and although it may appear expensive, he’s working to some of the tightest margins in town. Go now; give your senses a treat because with this talent he may soon be in a room few of us will be able to afford. *** *** *** Some discussion on Mint after it was awarded a star on the Michelin topic here. I haven’t been since but have heard great reports from a number of people who have. The general consensus seems to be that his food is getting better and better. Slightly controversially, he has introduced a ‘no show’ charge. One diner had an interesting reaction to the policy. She said that if one of her friends was unable to come due to illness, she would be delighted to invite a homeless person into the restaurant to share their meal with them, rather than throw away a load of money on a no-show charge.
  20. I'm really enjoying this series too, way better than previous format (Jenny Bond in the kitchen), and the modern slant makes it so much more exciting. The pure 'British' brief had really run it's course. There's a great atmosphere in the kitchen with these two chefs, makes for great viewing. The noodle dish fascinated me. I thought it looked awful, but would love to try it out of curiousity. I can't see it winning but think Glynn is great for giving it a go. Very much in the spirit of the 'modern' brief.
  21. Sorry, I haven't been up that direction for a while, so no suggestions other than the obvious: Bushmills Inn and the Distillers Arms on your doorstep. Would be interested to hear if you make any discoveries.
  22. MacNean Restaurant is definitely worth a visit. Neven Maguire, the chef there makes great use of local ingredients. His wife, Amelda, manages the restaurant. They are both incredibly nice and would be great to chat to about local produce etc. It is quite a distance, right up on the border with Fermanagh, but the countryside is very interesting around there and a bit of a time capsule (old style filling stations etc) which I quite like. The Olde Post Inn in Clover Hill may also be worth a visit, although I haven't been. Gearoid Lynch has some serious experience behind him and they are really starting to push the boat out now that they are opened 5 years (added a pastry kitchen and new hardwood conservatory for pre-dinner drinks). They do some interesting dishes like stuffed pigs' trotters. Another place that may be of interest is Pol O'D Restaurant in Ballyconnell. From a cheese POV, there is an outstanding cheesemaker in Cavan: be sure to check out Corleggy and some of the other cheeses from Silke Cropp.
  23. Great suggestions above. You may also be interested in dropping into the Guinness brewery museum. The view from the bar at the top is amazing.
  24. Welcome to the eGullet Society Robot Coupe. It sounds like you hit on some of the more mundane places on your trip to Ireland, which unfortunately, can be done without too much effort. Yes, there is a big appetite for well done meat and two veg around the country, but I don’t think this is our biggest problem. In terms of how things are improving and who’s been driving it, historically, much of the credit goes to Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House who heralded the merits of locally produced food back in the 80s, and her daughter-in-law Darina Allen, who set up the Irish Farmers’ Markets and brought the Slow Food movement to Ireland. As a result, there has been huge growth in artisan produced cheeses, charcuterie etc over the last 10 years or more. In reality, the focus isn’t on ‘modern food’, we’re doing catch-up on traditional food. In terms of who is on the horizon for a star next year, I don’t think this is the big picture when it comes to Irish food and rescuing us from the culinary woes you cite. But since you ask, here’s my take. At the moment, I don’t think there is anyone, but it depends how things develop over the year. There’s much talk about Neven Maguire of MacNean Restaurant in Cavan being ignored by Michelin, and many I think would like to see him with a star, but as far as I can see, he’s not interested. His restaurant has been refurbished and his food is excellent, certainly to standard (I think he’s got a wonderful palate and he uses top quality local ingredients), but he would need to invest in a sommelier and a deeper wine list if he wanted to throw his hat into the Michelin ring. That said, he now has a a website, so he may have ambitions. But the bottom line for him is keeping his very loyal customer base happy. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. Paul Flynn at The Tannery in Waterford, is extremely talented (former head chef at Nico’s in London). He had a Bib Gourmand a while back and lost it not because of quality, but because of the price threshold. The prices, however are still extremely reasonable and the food is definitely Michelin standard, service is wonderful and it’s a lovely space. I can’t remember the scope of the wine list, this might be an issue and he doesn’t make his own bread (imports good par cooked ciabatta from France), so maybe not every box ticked. However, he is much more interested in a full restaurant and has achieved the delicate balance of keeping his customers happy without compromising on quality. Troy Maguire in Locks is a possible if Michelin continues with their new haut bistro strategy, but I’m not sure he’s interested either. His menus, which don’t change that frequently, haven’t been quite as exciting as they were at the outset; scallops, after many promises of them have just appeared on the menu and the prices have crept up. But it’s a lovely place to go so don’t let the absence of a star put you off. Roger Olson at Capella Castlemartyr in Cork is extremely competent. His menu features quite a few Pied a Terre inspired dishes, so it will be interesting to see how his style develops, but he also faces the delicate balance of keeping a broad cross section of customers happy. Of course, as it’s a hotel chain, he may not even be there for the long term. George Keogh is getting good reviews for his restaurant The Waterfront at the Lord Bagenal in Carlow and I know that there are great ambitions there, but IMO, he hasn’t a chance. So much hasn’t been thought through here, from the distracting view of the ugly car park at the side to the tacky Versace chairs. It was half empty for Sunday lunch, I found the food over-wrought and I left wondering if it was he or me who had something seriously wrong with their palate. But the people I was with thought it was fine/quite good, so maybe I was having a bad taste buds day. But I do intend giving it another go just to see if I was wrong. BTW, there is a very popular meat and two veg restaurant on the older side of the hotel (completely bizarre how the old and the new structures are joined) and this is packed to the gills with the locals. Which brings me back to your meat and two veg comment and your question about who is going to rescue us all from this culinary embarrassment. Well, I’m going to take the unlikely position of defending this food for a minute. It’s not for me, but plenty of people love a heaped plate of good straight forward food, and good for them. At least it’s honest food, generally of reasonable quality and cooked fresh, if a bit overdone. It’s the sort of food that most of us grew up with, and unfortunately, what a lot of kids don’t get any more. So your progress question is a broad one, and not, I think, one that’s going to be solved by steak ‘a point’ and a few Michelin stars, and to be honest, way too broad to be answered in any meaningful way. There have always been a handful of expensive restaurants in Ireland, now there are a few more. Mid-priced restaurants have been slowly coming on stream over the past 25 years or so but the major growth was in the last 10 years which also saw the new trend of the neighbourhood restaurant. Does this amount to progress and a rise in standards? Yes and no. Certainly, there’s an increased focus on locally produced food and some great mid-priced restaurants (particularly in Dublin) are getting religion, so it’s not all doom and gloom, but it is all a very middle class phenomenon. The other end of the scale, the big offender IMO, is not the overcooked meat issue, it is over processed food that is doing visible damage and contributing to the rise in obesity. So who is going to rescue us? More Michelin stars won’t solve anything although If you’re looking for someone who is really pushing the boundaries now, it would have to be Dylan McGrath of Mint restaurant who was awarded one of those new Michelin stars you mention. He is by far the most talented and exciting chef in the country, if a little controversial. But I don't think he is going to be a key influencer in terms of changing culinary habits across the country. What we need is education. All kids should be taught how to cook in school because they’re not learning at home any more. It’s that simple (and I really don’t care if they opt for saignant or bien cuit). That, for me, would be huge progress, and no, it’s not being done. What would you do? Here are a few more topics you might find interesting: Thornton’s Guilbauld’s Chapter One Restaurants in Ireland Farmers’ Markets Food in Ireland
  25. Hmmm... with the timing on this, and the UK/US comparisons, perhaps Marco Pierre White is looking to stir up things a little to publicise his US show.
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