Changing faces at La Stampa
"I think Mr Gallagher might be the man for La Stampa," food critic Lucinda O'Sullivan wrote in July 2011 of the flamboyant, if controversial, chef Conrad Gallagher taking over the famous eatery on Dawson Street in Dublin.
Last week, the Sunday Independent's restaurant critic's prediction proved, sadly, to be wrong when the chef left La Stampa, albeit on good terms.
"I just spoke to Conrad," La Stampa proprietor Louis Murray told me on Friday night, "and I told him I had done a deal with Ronan Ryan."
Louis added: "Conrad and I decided to go our separate ways and it was all amicable. I truly look forward to working with Ronan Ryan.
"It is an exciting new chapter for La Stampa and people who enjoy great food in one of the best rooms in Ireland."
Ronan ran Town Bar & Grill for eight years.
In that time, he made the basement restaurant on Kildare Street a second kitchen for regulars such as Bono and Ali, Bret Desmond and wife Andrea Corr, Gerry Ryan, Gavin Friday, Guggi, Anne Doyle, Johnny Ronan, the Irish rugby team and all the top models, as well as politicians and other well-known public figures.
Ronan hopes to do the same trick with La Stampa at 35 Dawson Street when he starts work tomorrow morning. "I have every faith in him," Louis told me.
"I have heard nothing but great reports of him. He brings a special kind of magic. People love him."
Ronan, whose partner of four years, TV star Pamela Flood, gave birth in the Coombe Women's Hospital in Dublin last March to an 8lb 12oz baby boy, Harrison Ryan, told me yesterday morning that "the idea was conceived when a mutual friend suggested Louis and I go for a coffee to see if we could hammer out a deal".
That deal was hammered out at 5pm in Louis's office on Dawson Street last Friday.
"We've hatched a plan to reinvigorate the best dining room in the city," Ronan says of La Stampa, adding that head chef Malcolm Stammer "shares a similar philosophy to me of very cost-conscious, affordable food".