Jammet’s: a Dublin treasure crowded with gourmets and wits

Jammets’ restaurant was the place to dine in Dublin for more than 60 years until it closed in 1967. Photograph: Jackie Letters – Archive

Jammets’ restaurant was the place to dine in Dublin for more than 60 years until it closed in 1967. Photograph: Jackie Letters – Archive

 


Jammet’s was the place to dine out in Dublin for more than 60 years. Like Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, it not only offered French haute cuisine but was also French-owned – by brothers Michel and François Jammet and later by Michel’s son, Louis.

For decades in a drab Dublin, Restaurant Jammet was synonymous with style and sophistication. From the time it opened its doors, in 1901, until it finally closed, in 1967, everyone who was anyone could be seen wining and dining there.

Regulars included WB Yeats, Lennox Robinson, Liam O’Flaherty, Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards, Charles J Haughey and his coterie, architects Arthur Gibney and Sam Stephenson, and nearly every prominent visitor to Dublin, including a youthful John Lennon. In the guestbook, Lennon drew a caricature of himself in Beatles hairdo with the message: “The other three are saving up to come here! YEAH – 3.”

In 1928, Vogue described Jammet’s as “one of Europe’s best restaurants . . . crowded with gourmets and wits”, where the sole and grouse were “divine”. Years later, in 1963, Egon Ronay was equally enthusiastic, saying, “Ritz and Escoffier would feel at home here”.

It also had an Oyster Bar – naturellement – where lunch was served at a marble-topped counter and a Grill Room upstairs, apparently more affordable than the main restaurant, designed in a modernist style by Noel Moffett, in 1944.

After the Emergency, when films were being made at Ardmore Studios, Jammet’s welcomed the likes of James Cagney, Rita Hayworth, Danny Kaye, Aly Khan and Orson Wells, as Mairtín Mac Con Iomaire noted in his 2009 DIT thesis on the emergence of haute cuisine in Dublin.

The restaurant was closed by Patrick Jammet, grandson of its co-founder Michel, mainly due to suburbanisation. The Berni Inn and Lillie’s Bordello replaced it, and now it’s Porterhouse Central.

Like the Theatre Royal, had Jammet’s survived a few more years, it would now be one of Dublin’s treasures – a great restaurant with a history. Read all about it in Jammet’s of Dublin 1901 to 1967, by Alison Maxwell and the late Shay Harpur, a sommelier there in the 1960s.

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