Friday 18 October 2019

Pocket-friendly: Affordable food is given the seal of approval from Michelin Guide

Cheers: Circa restaurant owners Emmett Murphy, Gareth Naughton and Ross Duffy celebrate their Michelin Bob Gourmand award at the restaurant in Terenure, Dublin 6. Photo: Frank McGrath
Cheers: Circa restaurant owners Emmett Murphy, Gareth Naughton and Ross Duffy celebrate their Michelin Bob Gourmand award at the restaurant in Terenure, Dublin 6. Photo: Frank McGrath
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

It appears the secret to being a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant is serving down-to-earth, pocket-friendly food, according to just some of the five winners of the prestigious awards.

The awards, often referred to as the 'mini Michelins', have selected Land to Sea in Dingle, Co Kerry; Circa in Terenure, south Dublin; Uno Mas in Dublin; Thyme in Athlone, Co Westmeath; and Balloo House in Newtownards, Co Down, as winners.

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But while the five rose up the ranks, eight well-established Irish eateries lost their Bib Gourmand titles, though there was no comment on this from those behind the awards at the Michelin Guide.

However, it seemed clear just what it took to be a winner this year - with a €40 cap on the cost of a three-course meal in the awards category.

"Hopefully we have been recognised for the fact we have created the restaurant we always wanted in our hearts," said Gareth Naughton, who co-owns Circa.

"One of our signature dishes is rabbit with pea and bacon lettuce fricassee and tarragon mayonnaise.

"And probably our most popular dish is duck prosciutto, cured foie gras, cherry and hibiscus.

"We're trying to put our own spin on traditional food and our small plates start from €13 and go up to €24 and €30 for large plates.

"A dessert is only €8. We've only been open since April this year, so we're really delighted with the award and we hope it's just the start."

Restaurateur and lifelong chef Julian Wyatt (36) runs Land to Sea in Dingle, with wife Katia, and the couple have been up and running for only seven months.

They work full-time and look after their seven-year-old son, Seán. And somehow in such a short time and with few staff, including a friend helping out this weekend, they are still ahead of the curve.

"We try to do everything homemade, to make the best use of the ingredients around us," Mr Wyatt said.

"We use crab and seafood. I cook pork cheeks in cider, a dish families used to eat years ago. I remember my own family eating pig's head for Christmas.

"We cook traditional dishes but with a bit of finesse. I hate pretentious restaurants, though, there's no need to make a meal a tiny work of art, when people want nourishing, tasty food," he added.

An early bird menu is just €25 for two courses and €30 for three. Dishes include a seafood appetiser plate, consisting of fresh Dingle crab, home smoked salmon and Glenbeigh mussels and oyster.

Cian Lynch, of Uno Mas, in Dublin, said the "secret" to the eatery's success was again serving traditional food but this time with a Spanish twist.

Meals on the menu include suckling pig, baby turnip, morcilla and gooseberries, a main served for €25. While a starter of potato and onion tortilla is €10.

Customers keep returning, Mr Lynch said, because of the "laid-back atmosphere and constantly changing menu" of the restaurant which is open less than a year.

"They love the food, the atmosphere, they keep coming back. It's infectious and we are delighted to receive this recognition."

The omission of Dublin restaurants Bastible, Delahunt, Etto, Pig's Ear, Craft and Forest & Marcy, has led to a belief that the Michelin Guide for 2020 is about to include more one-star accreditations to Dublin.

Irish Independent

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