The night the Michelin man came to dinner in Heron & Grey

Blackrock restaurant with a reputation for creating unique dishes was open just four months when ‘the man in jumper’ paid a visit

On the Heron and Grey menu the night a Michelin inspector dined at the restaurant: asparagus (above left), liver parfait (above right), langoustine, pork, strawberries. Photographs: Marie Claire Digby

On the Heron and Grey menu the night a Michelin inspector dined at the restaurant: asparagus (above left), liver parfait (above right), langoustine, pork, strawberries. Photographs: Marie Claire Digby

 

Thursday, April 14th: I am having dinner in Heron and Grey in Blackrock Market. It’s a fairly quiet night for them, four months into their new venture; they’re still not filling all 24 seats in the small restaurant on Thursday nights. In addition to our table of four, there is another group, some couples, and a lone man in a jumper.

Liverpool are playing Dortmund in the quarter final of the Europa League and there’s lots of inter-table chatter as updates on the score is shared between some diners.

The atmosphere in the tiny whitewashed-walled room is upbeat and relaxed, like being at a lively dinner party in a good friend’s kitchen. Front of house manager and co-owner Andrew Heron deflects the football fans’ banter while working the room. There is a lot of laughter and chatter. The man in the jumper seems slightly bemused.

The food starts coming out, and it’s startlingly good. This is my third or fourth visit in as many months. The no-choice, five-course seasonal menu changes every fortnight, and it is chef and co-owner Damien Grey’s intention that none of the intricate, complicated dishes will ever be repeated. It’s like eating a piece of history.

Asparagus, liver parfait, langoustine, pork and strawberries are the ingredients he is working with this week, and he delivers another tour de force. “This is the best food I’ve eaten in Dublin,” I tell my co-diners.




Since opening in January, Grey has created 19 different five-course menus, with not a single element from any dish repeated. It’s an extraordinary feat of creativity, and technique.

A recent dish, and the one Grey says he is most proud of so far, saw a dramatic arrangement of scallop, Parmesan risotto (magically coloured inky black) and caviar, topped with gold leaf.

By the time the desserts roll out, even the man in the jumper, sitting alone by the window, with a clear view of the dingy market stalls outside, is smiling.

Who is he, I wonder, and why is he eating alone. I hope he is enjoying his dinner as much as we are, and that he doesn’t feel too lonely among this by now slightly raucous bunch of food – and some football – lovers who know they are on to a good thing.

Fast forward a little over 24 hours, and one of my fellow diners meets chef Grey, queuing for post-work sustenance in the chipper across the road. They chat, and it turns out that the man in the jumper is a Michelin inspector.

Grey explains that the inspector introduced himself after his meal, and gave them feedback. The wine list needs work, he says. The lads get to ask one question, and Grey, like the direct Aussie he is, asks if they will be getting a Michelin star? No, is the answer.

But this visit from Michelin turns out to be just the first of five (that they know of), the most recent being on June 19th.

And somewhere along the line, a new star was launched.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.