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Mint Restaurant, Ranelagh, Dublin


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We ate in Mint again last week, accompanied by a friend who hadn't eaten there before. It's always interesting to see the restaurant through "new" eyes in this way, and as usual Mint didn't disappoint.

We tried a relatively new pork dish, with the meat served in various forms, the chop brought to the table separately, smoking in hay. The aroma is absolutely incredible and the taste fully lives up to the expectation. It was so evocative that our friend pointed out that it's the first dish he's ever eaten that made him sad to eat it. Truly astonishing.

Everything else was as good as ever, Pierre doing his usual fantastic job with the pairings and the FOH running very smoothly. Onwards and upwards!

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  • 3 weeks later...

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?

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"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?"

Nothing quite like that. A tip off from a disgruntled competitor? Very heavy handed.

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Nothing quite like that. A tip off from a disgruntled competitor? Very heavy handed.

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.

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Nothing quite like that. A tip off from a disgruntled competitor? Very heavy handed.

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?? :wink:

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Nothing quite like that. A tip off from a disgruntled competitor? Very heavy handed.

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?? :wink:

Not intentional…. Maybe I should claim it as innate :biggrin:

Do cognacs and armagnacs count as "spirits" for the purposes of this discussion? I hope not...

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.

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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.

Or a disgruntled reviewer ..................... :biggrin:

Edited by HannaBanana (log)
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  • 3 months later...
  • 7 months later...

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.”

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Yes, I'm really very sad to see it go. Mint was certainly my favourite restaurant in Ireland, and to be honest was one of my favourites in the world. I craved that food and that cooking like you wouldn't believe. Mint's closure certainly leaves an enormous hole in the Irish dining scene.

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Without doubt Mint's closure leaves a gaping hole in the top end Irish dining scene and I am also very sorry to see it close. Sorry but not surprised.

I feel strongly, that if Dylan Mc Grath is to move on to another venture, he will need to change significantly in order to avoid the same pitfalls in the future. 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.

My own personal opinion is that we only need look to Dylan Mc Grath's mentors ( Tom Aikens and Conrad Gallagher) to get the complete picture of why Mint closed. Clearly the recession played a part but I think DMcG should have a long hard look at his business management before embarking on another venture.

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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.

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Corinna,

It's not the financial end of the business that I'm talking about. I've lost count of the amount of people who have said to me that they loved the cooking in Mint but would not go back because they did not feel comfortable or enjoy the overall experience. This equates with my own recent exeperience when I enjoyed the food but did not have a relaxing evening.

I actullay commented after seeing a customer berated in front of the whole room for asking for his lamb cooked a little more that the business would not survive. I feel that customers are thin enough on the ground without alienating the ones you already have. When the chef's ego takes precedence over the customer's enjoyment of their meal, it's the slippery slope for any restaurant.

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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.

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I agree Corinna, it was a very difficult room to try execute the level of food and service that Dylan strived for. I don't know how they operated in such a confined space.

I still feel strongly however that without some good advice, a willingness to change, and perhaps a business partner with a lot more industry experience than he has, Dylan will struggle to achieve the success that his talent so richly deserves.

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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.

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