'It's been the worst year yet at l'Ecrivain...'

Ellen Coyne

Michelin-star restaurant l'Ecrivain is suffering its "worst year ever", says owner Derry Clarke.

The Dublin restaurateur and chef told the Herald: "This has been the worst year so far of the recession, and we're into April now. It's definitely been the hardest.

"I just don't know why," he added.

l'Ecrivain was one of the first top restaurants to offer credit-crunch lunches when the recession hit. Now Clarke says that in order to survive he's going to have to come up with new ideas.

"It is difficult to get inspirations and make every day a fresh day, but you've just got to do it."

However, undaunted by the slump, Derry went on to say that the recession was the "best thing to ever happen to us".

"The recession made us. The food tastes better. The service is better. People are happier," he said. "Maybe it's easy for me to say that, because I'm employed. But people seem happier."

Clarke also has a positive outlook for the future, telling the Herald he believes we're in for very good times ahead and that we'll benefit from the experience of the current recession.

"I think the next time we experience a lift-off, it will be a more sensible boom," he said.

"I think we're going to be in for a great time of it."

He even believes that in fewer than five years' time we will be the "food capital of the world".

"I'm a firm believer that we've got the best products in Ireland, in the world," he said. "We've already been listed third in the world by French magazines. The sky's the limit for us."


Clarke says the only thing holding back Irish people is our lack of self-esteem.

"If we went on holiday to some place like Ireland, we'd come back raving about it," he said. "We're Irish. We're the worst in the world for self-belief.

"I'm actually lucky that I'm coming to the end of my career now, because it's so much more competitive now than it was when I started," he said.

"You can get eat brilliantly all over the country now."