Chef walking on air at Michelin star success

The House at the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co Waterford, joins elite of Irish restaurants

The House at the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co Waterford, joins elite of Irish restaurants

 

A HOTEL RESTAURANT which has been open less than two years has won a coveted Michelin star.

The House at the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co Waterford, is the only new Irish entrant in this year’s guide which will be published next week.

The restaurant’s Dutch-born head chef Martijn Kajuiter said he was “absolutely stunned” to be informed by The Irish Times that The House had joined the elite of Irish restaurants.

“It is a great surprise. I never expected it. It is a new hotel. I just arrived in Ireland in 2007, the hotel opened in 2008, it has been a very rocky road,” he said.

A three-course meal at the hotel costs €65 a head and it has a policy of sourcing its produce locally. Much of it is grown in the restaurant’s own garden in Youghal, Co Cork. The menu includes locally caught sole and cod and game from the nearby Ballynatray Estate.

Mr Kajuiter said he took the job as head chef because no Irish chef was up for the challenge of using only local produce.

He cited the example of his smoked salmon starter, which is smoked at the table under a glass dome and served with locally grown radish.

“I try to work with 100 per cent Irish produce. In the end they had to look further than Ireland and came up with me,” he said.

The award is also good news for the hotel’s embattled owner Barry O’Callaghan, in a week in which he has said he and fellow investors have lost millions in the Education Media and Publishing Group (EMPG), the US publishing company where he is the chief executive.

Mr O’Callaghan spent years redeveloping the hotel in Ardmore Bay before it reopened in May 2008.

“As in any business, it is all about the team. Martijn and his team are super people, highly talented and most deserving of this star,” he said.

The restaurant is closed for most of January and will reopen in February.

The House is one of only six Irish restaurants with a Michelin star. Patrick Guilbaud in Merrion Square remains Ireland’s only two-star restaurant.

Chapter One, L’Ecrivain, Thornton’s and Bon Appetit in Dublin and Deanes in Belfast all retain theirs. Mint in Ranelagh, which had a star, closed last year.