Dunne adds O’Connell’s in Donnybrook to his stable of restaurants

Food File: Irish cafe, awards, five-star picnics and hog roasts

Chef and restaurateur Oliver Dunne has taken over O’Connell’s in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

Chef and restaurateur Oliver Dunne has taken over O’Connell’s in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

 

Chef and restaurateur Oliver Dunne has expanded once again, with the addition of O’Connell’s in Donnybrook to his stable of restaurants – Bon Appetit in Malahide, Cleaver East in Temple Bar and Beef & Lobster in Parliament Street.

“We haven’t changed anything, it’s still trading as O’Connell’s, the only difference is Tom O’Connell isn’t there any more,” says Dunne, who took over in February. He says he is still undecided on what direction to take the business in. “It’s a pub, that was the mindset when I bought it,” he says of the former Madigan’s bar. “By the end of this year, I hope to have plans for it.”

Tom O’Connell, meanwhile, is finalising plans for “an Irish cafe, with small Irish producers-led food, home baking, and a wine bar in the evening with great Irish charcuterie, olives and cheese from Sheridans”, in Dublin city centre.

Bestseller cafe on Dawson Street: Organic and biodynamic wines will be a strong feature of the wine list.
Bestseller cafe on Dawson Street: Organic and biodynamic wines will be a strong feature of the wine list.

He is acting as a consultant for the project, which is ongoing, at the Bestsellers cafe in the National Bible Society of Ireland shop on Dawson Street. The business is owned by hotelier and restaurateur Ray Byrne.

Bestseller cafe: although the menu is undergoing changes, the bookselling, art, Irish baking and wine drinking will continue, side by side on Dawson Street.
Bestseller cafe: although the menu is undergoing changes, the bookselling, art, Irish baking and wine drinking will continue, side by side on Dawson Street.

According to O’Connell, although the menu is undergoing changes, “the bookselling, art, Irish baking and wine drinking will continue, side by side”. Organic and biodynamic wines will be a strong feature of the wine list.

O’Connell, a founding member of Good Food Ireland and a former hotelier with management experience at The Savoy and The Ritz in London, and his wife Annette, decided it was time to sell in Donnybrook “as the next generation of our family are not interested in the business”.

Guild awards

Lotts & Co, the Dublin 4 food shop which celebrates its third birthday next month, and Indie Füde, in Comber, Co Down, have reached the shortlist for the Guild of Fine Food’s Shop of the Year awards.

Lotts & Co in Dublin 4 is a finalist in a UK-run Shop of the Year competition
Lotts & Co in Dublin 4 is a finalist in a UK-run Shop of the Year competition

Lotts & Co is included among seven finalists in the best grocer, village or community shop and Indie Füde is one of 13 shortlisted delicatessens. The two other categories are for best farm shop or garden centre with food hall, and best specialist cheese shop.

Rory English, general manager of Lotts & Co, submitted a written entry to the judging panel, and this was reviewed by a panel of industry experts. Having made the shortlist, both Irish finalists will go through two more stages of judging, an announced visit from one of the judges and a surprise visit from a mystery shopper, before the results are revealed in London on September 20th.

“Our team is what makes it really. I am very proud of them,” English says. “I definitely would not have entered if I didn’t believe we were ready. What we offer in terms of customer service, range and value is up there with the best.”

Picnic time

A picnic in the garden of a five-star hotel is quite a unique offering and one that The Merrion in Dublin is making available between 3pm and 6pm every day from June to September. Should the weather not be conducive to taking in the sights and scents of the garden, the picnic can be ordered and enjoyed within the Garden Room restaurant.

A picnic in the garden at The Merrion hotel, in Dublin.
A picnic in the garden at The Merrion hotel, in Dublin.

House-made lemonade accompanies a selection of savouries including Burren Smokehouse salmon blinis with dill creme fraiche; charred asparagus with whipped feta and Amalfi lemon; and toasted brioche with ham and Gruyère cheese. Desserts include Eton Mess, fruit tartlets and Mississippi mud pie.

The picnic, an interesting alternative to afternoon tea, costs €29.50 per person.

Hog roast at Locks

Jeremy Cuevas, a chef at Locks restaurant in Dublin, has been rearing pigs on his partner Laura Duffy’s family farm in Naul, Co Dublin, using vegetable waste from the restaurant. Bringing the project full circle, the pigs will be broken down and cooked at a hog roast at Locks on June 28th.

Paul McNamara, co-owner and also a chef at Locks, says the four-course menu will use every part of the pig, down to lard used in the pastry for dessert. There will be snacks, starter, main course of roast prime cuts for the table to share, and dessert, for €39.

“We are keeping the price reasonable as we have already made a saving on our food waste and we would like to pass this on to the customer,” McNamara says. Portuguese wine pairings are an optional €40 in addition. Reservations can be made online at locksrestaurant.ie/casual-dining or by telephoning 01-4163655.

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