Wednesday 16 October 2019

'It’s not impossible to get a seat on the chef’s counter' - The secret to booking a seat at this Irish Michelin star restaurant

Chef Takashi Miyazaki. Picture: Provision
Chef Takashi Miyazaki. Picture: Provision
Takashi Miyazaki
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Three restaurants in Cork were awarded a Michelin star yesterday.

Mews in Baltimore in West Cork; Ichigo Ichie in Cork city; and Restaurant Chesnut in Ballydehob were announced as newcomers to the Irish Michelin scene.

Once a restaurant achieves Michelin star status, the demand for a table soars, meaning the restaurant can be booked up months ahead.

But there is a way you can book a place at Ichigo Ichie at short notice.

Slavia Reno, manager of Ichigo Ichie tells Independent.ie that though seats at the chef’s counter are booked up until next January, the restaurant does get last-minute cancellations.

And because the five-seater counter seats an odd number of diners, there is often a seat for one person available at short notice.

“It’s not impossible to get a seat on the chef’s counter... It pretty much books up for four guests."

This might be an option for food lovers who are not averse to experiencing a restaurant alone.

"If you're big into food and you like to chat, Miyazaki is always very helpful and he answers any questions you might have.”

“He understands that sometimes you just want to focus on the food and the atmosphere, but some people love to get to know his journey from Japan to here, other people are interested in the technique.”

“Since we opened the restaurant it's been fully booked up; people make the plan far ahead and whenever it gets to the day, cancellations start to happen. It's not impossible to get the chefs counter,” she added.

Seats are also still available in the main restaurant area, Ms Reno added.

The next tranche of seats for next February, March and April at Ichigo Ichie will be released on its website in November.

Ichigo Ichie serves a Japanese no-choice food experience comprising 12 courses (€95) that changes with the seasons, with subtle variations from month to month

Mr Miyazaki said that the restaurant on Sheares Street was the "culmination of years striving for perfection".

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Chestnut Ballydehob says it will be a busy few months ahead at the restaurant.

"The phone is buzzing non stop," the spokesperson said.

Other restaurants that have retained their Michelin Star this year are the two-star Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud and the one-star Chapter One, L'Ecrivain and the Greenhouse in Dublin City and Heron & Grey in Blackrock village.

Elsewhere, other one-star restaurants are Aniar and Loam in Galway city; Campagne and Lady Helen at Mount Juliet Hotel in Kilkenny; Wild Honey Inn, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare; and House Restaurant at Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford.

In Northern Ireland, two Belfast restaurants - Eipic on Howard Street and Ox on Oxford Street - have also retained star status in the ceremony in London last night.

Speaking at its launch, 'Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland' editor Rebecca Burr said: "The inspectors have seen exciting things happening in Ireland this year and much of it in County Cork. There's a lot of ability in Ireland right now. As everyone knows, the produce is stunning and it's great to see chefs with such passion and personality in their food."

Four new restaurants last week received the Michelin Bib Gourmand awards, which recognise those establishments offering good food at affordable prices of €40 or less for a three-course meal. The newcomers are Clanbrassil House in Dublin, Tartare Café & Wine Bar in Galway city, Brownes in Tuam and Dillon's in Timoleague, Cork.

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