Michelin awards 2020: New Kildare restaurant wins two stars
Aimsir, which opened this year, joined by Dublin's the Greenhouse, which got a second star
Aimsir: head chef Jordan Bailey and wife and general manager Majken Bech Bailey in the Co Kildare restaurant, which won two Michelin stars. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Ireland has five new Michelin-starred restaurants, and seven new stars, following the launch of the French tyre company’s Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2020 at a ceremony in London on Monday afternoon, where Ireland led the way in a blaze of glory.
One of the new entries, Aimsir, at Cliff at Lyons, in Co Kildare, completed the rare feat of entering the guide with two stars on its debut, less than five months after opening. “I don’t know what to say. I was not expecting that. I am blown away. We are very thankful to everyone. It means so much,” chef Jordan Bailey said, accompanied on stage by his wife and the restaurant’s general manager, Majken Bech-Bailey, who was clearly overcome with emotion.
Aimsir’s 18-dish tasting menu, using mainly ingredients indigenous to Ireland, costs €115.
The good news continued when Mickael Viljanen was called to the stage to accept what many believe is an overdue second star for the Greenhouse in Dublin. “Bless you, you have earned your place,” said Raymond Blanc, presenting Viljanen with his new two-star chef’s jacket, and finding himself on the floor, literally, with the force of the Finn’s greeting. Asked what he put his elevation down to, Viljanen said: “We stopped putting too many things on the plate and bought the best produce. My life is just food. It’s down to that and great people.”
A four-course menu at the Greenhouse costs €110; a six-course tasting menu is €129.
Ireland’s new one-star restaurants are the Oak Room at Adare Manor (head chef Mike Tweedie); Variety Jones in Dublin (chef proprietor Keelan Higgs), Bastion in Kinsale, Co Cork (chef proprietor Paul McDonald), and the Muddlers Club in Belfast (Gareth McCaughey).
In addition, two of the three annual special-category awards were claimed by Irish restaurants. Enda McEvoy’s Loam, in Galway, won the sustainability award for 2020, and Jurica Gojevic, head of wines and beverage at Adare Manor, took the award dedicated to that profession.
Initially there was consternation in the room when Damien Grey of Liath in Blackrock, formerly Heron & Grey, had not been called to the stage along with the other newly starred restaurants. However, Liath is included in the 2020 guide as a one-star. “That was quite straightforward for us,” Rebecca Burr, director of the guide for Great Britain and Ireland, told the The Irish Times. “It was Andrew [Heron] that stepped away from the business. As far as the cooking is concerned there wasn’t really a change; they changed the name they decorated... For us that was quite a straightforward transfer of a star.”
Burr confirmed that she had eaten in all of the Irish restaurants which make their debut in the guide. “I am always in Ireland; it’s my second home,” she said. In general she noted an ongoing improvement in standards, although she said “there are still areas of the country where we would like to see more happening”.
Describing Aimsir as “incredible”, she said head chef Jordan Bailey was “pretty much a one-off, actually. He’s got a fantastic background, but he is doing his own thing there. He is not mimicking what he was doing in Maaemo [the three-star in Oslo where he was previously head chef] or any other restaurant.”
Asked about the elevation of the Greenhouse, she said: “I’m really pleased for them. The chef said it on stage when Amanda asked him how he got here and he said, ‘I removed things from the plate.’ Latterly, he progressed very quickly.”
Burr noted the great variety of restaurants among the new one-stars in Ireland. “That’s what makes our work so interesting. There’s a place for everyone; there is a place for Adare Manor – what they’re doing there is wonderful. And then there’s Variety Jones: that’s a great, great place, really good flavours and ingredients. They’re doing something that they believe in that is unique and their own style.”
“Bastion, that’s a nice one to see, because he’s been aiming in that direction for some time,” she said of the Kinsale restaurant set up in 2014 by the Scottish chef Paul McDonald. Belfast’s Muddler’s Club was singled out for a star because, she said: “They are daring, they step outside the norm and that is what its all about.”
Ireland’s Michelin-starred restaurants
New Aimsir at Cliff at Lyons, Co Kildare
New The Greenhouse, Dublin
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin
New The Oak Room at Adare Manor, Limerick
New Variety Jones, Dublin
New Bastion, Kinsale, Co Cork
New The Muddlers Club, Belfast
Chapter One, Dublin
Lady Helen, Kilkenny
House at Cliff House Hotel, Waterford
Ichigo Ichie, Cork
Restaurant Chestnut, Ballydehob, Co Cork
Mews, Baltimore, Co Cork
Wild Honey Inn, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare