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Novelli Quits Dublin


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Yes, Jeam Christophe Novelli and La Stampa in Dublin have finally gone their separate ways. Which is not surprising, since JCN sightings were rarer than hens’ teeth; the only recorded appearances being quite literally that: in front of a TV camera, or looking deeply into the eyes of reporters, as he talked mostly about his private life; which he tirelessly told us he wanted to keep private.

So he’s gone. And now we’re waiting for Gary Rhodes to set up shop, and Nobu, who may or may not move into the Shelbourne Hotel, due to re-open at the end of August. So what should we expect? Jay Rayner tackled the subject of Nobu, among others, being discussed in the Food Media and News Forum here. So I’m interested to know, how does the Gary Rhodes concept travel?

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I hadn't heard this news, Corinna, but I can't say I'm particularly suprised. It makes me wonder, though, what *is* the problem at La Stampa? Why can't they get a good restaurant going there? I for one thought that, even if he never set foot in the place, the JCN name might be enough to lift the restaurant to the level it pretends to inhabit. I haven't been, but all evidence suggests that this hasn't happened.

La Stampa has one of the best rooms in the city, a fabulous location, menus can probably be set at any astronical price required, so why can't they manage good food and service? Or does the restaurant do enough business that they don't have to?

As regards the new restaurants, it will indeed be interesting to see how Gary Rhodes' new venture does, especially a few months after the inevitable opening excitement. I can't help feeling that some people here, looking for opportunities to display wealth, will buy into "the brand" rather than the food. Or am I being overly negative on this Monday morning...?

Si

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It was in the previous issue of (Irish) Food & Wine. Apparently Andrew Turner, the head chef has skedaddled too, “with immediate effect”. I didn’t venture in during his “sojourn”, as the reviews had been luke warm at best. In fact, I think they lost the confidence of just about every food journo in town with their ridiculous PR shenanigans. I’ve lost count of the “Yes, he’s really there now" stories. And of course, Louis Murray, the proprietor, allegedly had a serious run in with Trevor White (the editor of The Dubliner magazine, and influential food critic), warning him not to cross the threshold, mentioning that he knew his father(?) and whatnot. Mad stuff. eGullet Society member Kerrier reported a pretty unsatisfactory experience on this thread. So it looks like we saved a few bob by staying away.

Just hazarding a guess at what went wrong, it seems to me like it just wasn’t value for money, and a whack of service charge for lack of service added insult to injury. There’s loads of talk about Celtic Tigers, but they’re not a complete pack of “eejits” throwing good money at mediocre food. Most of the stupid money goes on supporting the Italian, Indian and Thai dross. I think the top end of the market is a little more discerning, and if you’re not on the money with your product, you’re out. I don’t think you can give a place a lift just by overlaying a celeb name, and I’m glad to see it hasn’t worked, because they obviously didn’t deliver on their promise.

Personally I think La Stampa would make a brilliant brasserie, it is, as you say, a great space, and it’s quite over the top in a baroque Parisian sort of way. If they specialised in French style seafood platters, had great meat and poultry… adopted the KISS formula… they could be on to a winner. But of course, the competition is hotting up now with Venue, Guilbaud’s new brasserie and the Fallon & Byrne spot (although a lot of needless napkin folding going on there, I hear). And yes, Gary Rhodes.

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So I’m interested to know, how does the Gary Rhodes concept travel?

I ate at Rhodes and Co in both Edinburgh and Crawley and had enjoyable meals both times. Both restaurants are now closed however (the Edinburgh branch was a record shop the last time I passed it) as Rhodes parted company with Sodexho who financed them, although I think Edinburgh closed while he was still with Sodexho.

I haven't been to Rhodes W1 as I thought I'd wait for the fine dining restaurant to open. I'm still waiting with apparently no date for opening yet set, which is odd.

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So I’m interested to know, how does the Gary Rhodes concept travel?

After his conspicuous failure to win the Royal seies of 'Big Cook Little Cook', I personally feel that the Rhodes concept should travel as far as possible.

Apparently there's a place called Poonwhacket Stump, 500 miles NE of Alice Springs where they all have strange, mullety hair, where none of the local foodies would have any problem at all with sponsorship from Tate and Lyle or Sodexho and no-one will find anything remotely pervy about the way he croons the word 'Flavours'.

Edited by Tim Hayward (log)

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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I’m very late in the day reading my May issue of Dubliner magazine… so I just noticed that they ran a piece on the JCN departure, which was due to “Irreconcilable differences”.

More interestingly there is a comment on Gary Rhodes. His restaurant was scheduled to open on May 5th, so much like the W1 venture; there seem to be some delays in the works.

That opening has now been delayed until “sometime in the next couple of months,” according to a posh – and decidedly anxious – London PR woman.  When I pointed out that poor Gary must have his hands full , what with five different restaurants and a floating canteen on a cruise ship, she replied without a hint of irony, "Gary spends time in all his restaurants."

So, not a great start, and I think the sceptical press over here will be expecting to see quite a bit of his spiky hair on the north side of Dublin before they are totally convinced of the value of his association.

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  • 7 months later...
Personally I think La Stampa would make a brilliant brasserie, it is, as you say, a great space, and it’s quite over the top in a baroque Parisian sort of way.  If they specialised in French style seafood platters, had great meat and poultry… adopted the KISS formula… they could be on to a winner.  But of course, the competition is hotting up now with Venue, Guilbaud’s new brasserie and the Fallon & Byrne spot (although a lot of needless napkin folding going on there, I hear).  And yes, Gary Rhodes.

Well…. It looks like Louis Murray, owner of La Stampa thinks this is a good idea too. Tom Doorley’s piece in the Irish Times gives the details:

Paul Flynn, chef-proprietor of the Tannery in Dungarvan, Co Waterford and former Irish Times columnist, was head chef at La Stampa from 1993 to 1997 and will, in a sense, be returning there to create Balzac, a French brasserie. "I won't be cooking there," he says, "but I've put together the formula, the design, the team. Balzac will be all about simple food, properly done, at keen prices."

And…

Paul Flynn is adamant that Balzac will work. "This kind of restaurant needs lots of people, lots of bustle, and Dublin can deliver that these days. I won't be cooking there myself; I'll be at the Tannery," he stressed. "It's my concept, my menu, but I'm not going to be in the kitchen." Flynn has appointed Jay Collier from Fitzers as head chef, and he will be joined by Malcolm Sturmer, a Tramore man who has been Richard Corrigan's second-in-command at Lindsay House. Flynn is almost painfully reticent about going public on his involvement in Balzac, stressing that it's all about the food, not about him.

This could be a winner. The location is brilliant, and the room cries out to be a brasserie, actually I had expected to see the Flo Group move in to this ailing space.

In terms of competition, if the product and price is right, it could blow Venu (with its terrible acoustics, but good, simple… possibly too simple, well-priced food) out of the water, and Fallon & Byrne and Rhodes D7 are just not cutting it. Could be interesting.

Added to that, the Shelbourne is about to re-open soon, which will be filled with exactly the right type of customer. The news on the Shelbourne is that the Horseshoe Bar will be much the same, although restored back to what it was originally… which means that the green Connemara marble bar counter is gone and has been replaced with authentic white formica. The walls are now the original dark red instead of green. And on the left, the dining room has become a huge cocktail bar which connects up with the long bar at the other side. The lift in the foyer is gone and the original breathtaking stairway is back.

The restaurant, which is behind the stairs and incorporates the old Side Door restaurant, is broken up into alcoves and private areas and there’s a large open kitchen, but it seems there will be no “big name” running it.

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I wrote a couple of lines about the new restaurant at the Shelbourne for the Independent a few weeks ago (click here).

Interesting Andy. And it sounds quite like the La Stampa concept.

Irish-American chef John Mooney goes back to his roots in February when he mans the open kitchen and oyster bar at the The Saddle Room in the historic and newly-refurbished Shelbourne hotel, 27 St Stephen's Green, Dublin (00 353 1 663 4500; marriott. co.uk). Expect steaks, chops and seafood platters in luxurious surroundings.

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I was surprised to find out the details, especially after the rumours about the likes of Nobu moving into that space. Good on them I think - does the world really need another Nobu or Gordon Ramsay restaurant?(Easy for me to say living a 50 minute train ride from London I suppose).

I'd never heard of John Mooney, but his CV is pretty impressive and includes the

The Signature Room at The 95th in the John Hancock Center, Chicago; with Dean Fearing at Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas; sous chef of Red Sage in Washington under Mark Miller; executive chef of ‘W’ Hotel, New York and chef of Pure at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai.

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