Friday 9 December 2016

Ireland's latest Michelin-starred restaurant doesn't even have a loo but it's all about taste

Katy McGuinness on Ireland's latest restaurant to be awarded a Michelin Star, Heron and Grey

Katy McGuinness

Published 04/10/2016 | 02:30

Andrew Heron and Damien Grey, left. Photo: HeronAndGrey.com
Andrew Heron and Damien Grey, left. Photo: HeronAndGrey.com
Heron and Grey in Dublin's Blackrock was awarded a Michelin star for the first time

At a tortuous ceremony in London, a restaurant in Blackrock, Co Dublin, became the only one in Ireland to be awarded a new Michelin star.

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Several Irish restaurants had been tipped to get the nod, but in the end it was Heron & Grey - the little restaurant that could - on which the tyre gods were smiling.

Located in the nether regions of Blackrock Market, Heron & Grey has been open less than 12 months.

Done up on a shoestring, and with fewer than 20 seats and no lavatory to call its own (customers have to leave the restaurant to use a loo even further into the bowels of the market), the recognition of Heron & Grey is a nose-thumb to those who say that Michelin is more about tablecloths and obsequious service than it is about the food.

Andrew Heron and Damien Grey pictured with their wives Claudia and Jessica and chef Roisin Gillen Photo Credit: Instagram
Andrew Heron and Damien Grey pictured with their wives Claudia and Jessica and chef Roisin Gillen Photo Credit: Instagram

The Heron of Heron & Grey is Andrew Heron, a veteran of the front-of-house scene in Ireland and Australia.

The Grey is Damien Grey, an Australian chef whose CV includes a stint with Ross Lewis at Chapter One.

The pair took over what was formerly Canteen in Blackrock last December.

For the first month, they bedded in, honouring existing bookings and getting to know the kitchen, figuring out how to make the best of the limited space.

The Heron and Grey, in Blackrock, has been given a Michelin star to celebrate its culinary excellence
The Heron and Grey, in Blackrock, has been given a Michelin star to celebrate its culinary excellence

They spent January re-jigging the room and re-opened in February.

At the beginning, Andrew Heron and Damien Grey were the only members of staff; another chef, Roisin Gillen, has since joined them.

They baked the bread, prepared the food, took the orders, poured the wine and cleared the tables. When the last guests went home, they did the washing up.

Almost from the get-go, the word was that Heron & Grey was doing something a little out of the ordinary, and that it was a place to watch.

Heron and Grey in Dublin's Blackrock was awarded a Michelin star for the first time
Heron and Grey in Dublin's Blackrock was awarded a Michelin star for the first time

I ate there in February and had what I predicted would be one of my best meals of the year, and was utterly charmed by the proprietors and their drive to make their business work.

"Quirky, innovative and original," went the citation from Michelin, and the food at Heron & Grey is all that - and more.

The €48, five-course, no-choice tasting menu is hyper-seasonal, and changes every fortnight.

Dishes that were on last week will not be on next week, and in fact the pair have vowed never to repeat a dish … ever.

So you'll just have to imagine the chocolate five ways - ganache, dehydrated, mousse, praline bar and popping candy - with orange marmalade, espresso, dehydrated milk and Cadbury's drinking chocolate that I was lucky enough to eat back in February.

In the last couple of weeks, Heron & Grey posted a tease on their Instagram account: architects' sketches of - possibly - a new restaurant.

"Just some ideas floating around," was the caption.

The award of the Michelin star surely brings the dream of that new premises - hopefully with its owns loos - that much closer, and with it the chance that the modest space in Blackrock Market can be lucky again for other restaurateurs with stars in their eyes.

Irish Independent

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