Tuesday 16 January 2018

Secret Garden is a foodie fairytale

A pop up magical garden is serving a stunning six course menu inspired by Irish nostalgia

Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

Temple Bar’s Meeting House Square has transformed into a blooming garden worthy of wild fairytales for a series of feasts celebrating Irish produce.

Secret Garden, organised by guerrilla dining group Dublin Pop-Up, is wowing the city’s diners with an inspiring 6-course menu every evening this week.

The two young chefs behind the venture Harry Colley (24) and Cuán Green (21) who are final year culinary arts students in DIT have excited with an innovative menu focused on reawakening childhood memories.

“The menu we’re doing this week is based around Irish nostalgia. For us it was always about working with good quality produce and Irish things that bring you back to childhood. From there it elaborated,” said Harry.

One of the dishes on the dreamy menu is a crispy potato skin brimming with slow cooked egg yolk, potato espuma, sour cream butter and topped with chives, a twist on an Irish reliable.

“We wanted to take something tacky and make it into something special. We’re doing a baked potato. Something really simple. Something your mom might cook on a Wednesday night and we aimed to make it into something which we think is fun and tasty,” said Cuán.

Secret Garden in Temple Bar's Meeting House Square
Secret Garden in Temple Bar's Meeting House Square
Secret Garden in Meeting House Square
Secret Garden: Harry Colley and Cuan Greene
Slow cooked lamb rolled in malt crumb, leg of lamb, parsnip, roast garlic, almond, olive oil and whiskey sauce
Basil mousse, Strawberry jam and jelly, chocolate brownie
Potato skin, slow cooked egg yolk, potato espuma, sour cream butter, chives
Red pepper infused rice, sirloin steak, béarnaise and cress
Mackerel ceviche, on a linseed crisp, pickled ginger, yam, and duileasc, chilled tiradito soup
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Potato skin, slow cooked egg yolk, potato espuma, sour cream butter, chives

Amidst overflowing flower baskets, flickering lights and a live pianist, diners have been squealing over Secret Garden’s menu which also features a melty lamb cut rolled in malt crumb, a sirloin steak paired with roast pepper infused rice, béarnaise and cress and a mackerel ceviche topped with a chilled tiradito soup.

Yet, the chefs said getting this pop-up off the ground has been a long process.

“At the time when we were developing it, Cuán was working in Spain and I was here in Dublin and we were holding Skype meetings, phone calls and sending Whatsapp pictures to one another about what looks good and what we thought would work for something like this,” said Harry.

“We knew we wanted to create this enchanted garden.  We wanted to create somewhere that you wouldn’t believe possible and we hope we have,” said Cuán.

The students set up Dublin Pop-Up late last year and have been holding small supper clubs in venues around the city to much success. Secret Garden is the most high-scale venture yet, but they haven’t let it bother them much.

Secret Garden in Temple Bar's Meeting House Square

“It is a little bit terrifying. There’s a notion of running before you can walk with Secret Garden.  We do work hard and we have worked in kitchens the whole time we’ve been in college.

“But when a project like this came together we were absolutely thrilled about it,” said Cuán.

The buzz around Secret Garden has been generating throughout the last few weeks and the chefs enjoy monopolising upon diners who are bored of the typical restaurant experience.

“The main thing that appeals to people is that it is so temporary. People get excited about the idea that it’s not going to be around forever. If we were here all the time there probably wouldn’t be the same buzz.

“Everyone of our supper clubs and pop-ups are unique with new menus exhibiting our own styles. It’s always exciting,” said Harry.

The table setting at Secret Garden, Meeting House Square

Although the Secret Garden is booked out for both lunch and dinner until it leaves again on Friday night, those interested in experiencing the wonderful food being created by these two chefs, yet to graduate, need not worry.

“Dublin Pop Up is here for the summer. We’re definitely going to be posting more events.

“We want to keep with our roots. Keep the standard high, go forward with our little events, but push big as well and that’s what’s in store,” finished Cuán, the green grass of Secret Garden beneath his feet.

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Secret Garden: Harry Colley and Cuan Greene

Follow Dublin Pop Up On Twitter to stay in the know of all their upcoming events.

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