There's a very American feel to the revamped Dunnes Stores foodhall in Cornelscourt, Dublin 18, from the extra wide lanes – no trolly rage here – to the supersized Baxter & Greene delicatessen.
But, turn the corner and you are firmly back in European territory, with a huge cheese, charcuterie and antipasti space run by Sheridans Cheesemongers, and a James Whelan Butchers that mirrors the theatre of meat approach in his Avoca outlets, with carcasses hanging behind glass and spotlit pedestal butcher blocks.
On the opening morning last week, both Séamus Sheridan and Pat Whelan were on hand to see that their new counters were running smoothly. Sheridans has more than 120 cheeses on offer, as well as charcuterie from Ireland, France, Spain and Italy, olives marinated and dressed in the company's Meath headquarters, using Organic Herb Co herbs and spices, and their house-made pestos and hummus.
Staff of Sheridans will run the counters, including newcomer Danielle Benedetti, who worked at the famous Murray's cheese shop in New York. "Rob Kaufelt, Murray's owner and old friend of ours, sent her to us," said Séamus Sheridan, who says he will also be behind the counter regularly, sharing his knowledge with customers and pressing yet another sample on them to make sure they get exactly what they are looking for.
"It's like our Bulgari jewel case," says Mary-Elizabeth Kenny, counter manager, of the climate-controlled display case housing some of the more delicate cheeses. "Almost every weekend there will be an Irish cheesemaker at the counter meeting customers and offering tastings of their cheeses," Sheridan adds.
"When we were first asked to run counters in Dunnes we hesitated a little, then we thought about what we wanted to do when we started selling cheese on the Galway market and what we have most enjoyed since – selling great cheese, in great condition, freshly cut and served by passionate and knowledgeable professionals," says Sheridan, whose company already has counters in Dunnes in the St Stephen's Green Centre and in the Swan Centre, Rathmines.
Pat Whelan says the prices for James Whelan Butchers meat in Dunnes will be the same as at his other outlets, but points out that with the spend €50, get €10 back promotion, running across the store, there will be a saving. “Margaret [Heffernan] is democratising good food,” he says.
ITSA SUPPER CLUB
Thursday evenings at Dundrum Town Centre are about to get a whole lot more interesting with the launch, on October 20th, of a series of literary supper clubs at the Itsa cafe in Harvey Nichols.
Lifestyle writer Kate O'Brien, co-author of Your Middle Years with consultant dietician Paula Mee, is the first author to front the events, which will combine a discussion, Q&A and book signing, with a three-course supper cooked by Itsa and Alchemy founder Domini Kemp and her team of chefs.
The menu on Thursday includes lentil and tomato soup with broad bean and mint bruschetta; Moroccan lamb with apricots, almonds and mint, and fig, walnut and dulse truffles. The events will run from 7-9pm, and tickets can be bought at Eventbrite.ie or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also due to take part are Rosanna Davison, author of Eat Yourself Fit (November 10th), and Catherine Fulvio, who will talk about her new book, ATaste of Home (December 8th).
FRIENDLY REMINDER FROM THORNTON’S
Thornton’s restaurant, a focal point of the Dublin dining scene for more than quarter of a century, closes its doors for good on October 29th. Owners Kevin and Muriel Thornton spoke about the “very sad” decision to close in The Irish Times last month. They urge any diners who still hold vouchers to redeem them as soon as possible – weekends are busy but there are still midweek bookings available. Call on 01-4787008 or go to thorntonsrestaurant.com