Food month: New chefs with fresh ideas in the kitchen

Explore Dublin’s culinary scene at Canteen @ the Market and Forest Avenue

Ciaran Sweeney, James Sheridan, Soizic Humbert, Damien Grey and Andrew Heron. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Ciaran Sweeney, James Sheridan, Soizic Humbert, Damien Grey and Andrew Heron. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

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Dublin’s restaurant scene is thriving again, and much of the energy is coming from a new generation of young chefs and front-of-house staff who are opening buzzy, casual spots in up-and-coming areas. Sometimes they are in unusual premises, where they can afford the rent without major investment, and have the freedom to create the vibe that makes them the kind of place where you might not have linen on the table, but what’s on your plate is what really matters.

One of the trailblazers of this type of venture was Canteen @ the Market, where James Sheridan and Soizic Humbert have been winning critical acclaim since opening two years ago in a former greasy-spoon cafe in Blackrock market.

Their no-choice, market-inspired four-course menu at €48 gave Sheridan a chance to showcase what he could do with skills honed under stellar chefs including Michael Caines in the UK, and Kevin Thornton and Graham Neville in Dublin. His partner, Brittany-born Humbert, brought Gallic flair to the tiny space.

With the arrival of their son Cian this year, the couple has decided it’s the right time to move on. This weekend is their last at the helm. “We have a new project planned for the early spring, something a little closer to my home town of Celbridge. It will be the next phase for us, personally and professionally,” Sheridan says.

Taking over the reins on December 1st are Damien Grey and Andrew Heron, who will trade as Canteen @ the Market until the new year. “We do not intend to change the current business model as it has been perfected by James and Soizic,” says Grey. They will then reopen as Heron & Grey. “We are going to close for two weeks, from January 1st, to make some changes to the seating arrangements and interior layout,” says Australian-born Grey, who has worked in some of Dublin’s top kitchens in the 16 years he’s been here, including, most recently, Chapter One. Heron, who comes to the venture from Luna in Drury Street and has also worked in the coffee trade with Cloud Picker, will run front of house.

“We have plans to do some guest appearances with leading chefs so we can have creative sessions where guests will be invited to try the latest trends in the food industry and cook with us,” Grey says.

The fifth member of the “Canteen family” pictured above in the restaurant, is chef Ciaran Sweeney, who has also worked with Kevin Thornton, and with Mickael Viljanen at The Greenhouse.

He is also a partner, with San Pellegrino best young chef in the world Mark Moriarty, in The Culinary Counter, which runs high-end pop-ups, most recently at Fumbally Stables last weekend.

Sweeney is touted by industry insiders as Dublin’s best “as yet unknown” chef. He worked at Canteen until recently, leaving to do a two-week stage with Michelin two-star chef Daniel Clifford at Midsummer House in Cambridge.

This weekend, he begins a four-week Sunday night residency at Forest Avenue in Dublin, at the invitation of John and Sandy Wyer. “We are hoping to work with Ciaran on a new project in the new year, so we wanted to give him a platform to get his name out there,” Wyer says.

Sweeney’s menu for the residency features five courses for €45, with a €35 wine pairing option. Fermented potato bread with bacon and cabbage relish sets the tone for an intriguing menu that also features whipped salt cod, cod skin and roast garlic; beetroot, walnut and sauce Bordelaise; glazed pork neck, smoked potato, creamed sprouts, and, as he’s known for his tarts, a polenta and prune version with creme fraiche is the curtain closer. Bookings are being taken by phone, 01- 6678337.

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