Bon Appétit and Mint join top table with 30-year-old chefs


The Michelin star has shone on two more Dublin restaurants, bringing Malahide's Bon Appétit and Ranelagh's Mint into the elite group of Irish Michelin star restaurants.

There are now six Michelin star restaurants in Dublin, with one of those, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, holding two stars.

Michael Deane remains the sole Michelin star holder in Northern Ireland with his recently revamped Deane's Restaurant in Belfast.

Nine restaurants outside Dublin have been awarded "Bib Gourmands" - which recognise good food at moderate prices.

The restaurants are all featured in the 2008 edition of the Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland, which will go on sale tomorrow.

The two new additions to the Michelin star club are both led by 30-year-old chefs. Oliver Dunne, who runs Bon Appétit, worked with chefs such as Gary Rhodes and Gordon Ramsay before starting his own venture.

The delighted chef was jumping around the restaurant with his 2½-year-old son in his arms when The Irish Timescalled yesterday.

"I just found out," he said. "I can't believe it. I thought we deserved it but we are only open 12 months so I thought it mightn't be long enough."

He couldn't sleep the night before with the anticipation but he had to wait until midday before the happy news filtered through.

Mint, the restaurant where he first made his name, also won its first Michelin star, "which makes me feel like I got 1½ stars", he said.

If that's not enough excitement for 2008, he will marry his partner and colleague Sabine Leroy in August. "She was in tears when she heard. It's as much her award as it is mine," he said. "It's just great to bring a star to Malahide."

He was due to work last night "but I don't know what I will do now".

Over at Mint, documentary producer Jackie Slattery breathed a huge sigh of relief as she finished filming. She had been following Belfast chef Dylan McGrath for three months as he awaited news of the Michelin star results. The Pressure Cookerdocumentary, complete with the happy ending, will be shown on RTÉ One next Monday night.

The chef at the centre of it all seemed to be unfazed by the news. "It's brilliant for the restaurant, brilliant for the staff because they have worked incredibly hard," McGrath said. "But it's important now to keep focused and put things in perspective. It's one Michelin star and it's a fantastic achievement but it is just one Michelin star. It's onwards and upwards from here."

He said that many people felt that Mint would never get a Michelin star because of its size. The compact restaurant, which does about 45 or 50 covers a night, requires about one month's advance booking for a weekend night.

While some people believe that a Michelin star is as much about the setting as the food, a Michelin guide spokesman said the stars reflect "what's on the plate and only what's on the plate. In other words, quality of service, amenities and valet parking, or lack thereof, are not taken into account in awarding stars".

Star turns: the winners
Two stars:
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Upper Merrion Street.
One star:
Bon Appétit, Malahide;
Chapter One, Parnell Square;
L'Ecrivain, Lower Baggot Street;
Mint, Ranelagh;
Thornton's, Fitzwilliam Hotel, St Stephen's Green;
Deane's Restaurant, Belfast, Co Antrim.
Bib Gourmand:
Aldridge Lodge, Duncannon, Co Wexford;
Bang Cafe, Merrion Row, Dublin;
Cafe Hans, Cashel, Co Tipperary;
Casino House, Kilbrittain, Co Cork;
Customs House, Baltimore, Co Cork;
Fishy Fishy Cafe, Kinsale, Co Cork;
Good Things Cafe, Durrus, Co Cork;
La Maison des Gourmets, Castle Market, Dublin;
Sha Roe Bistro, Clonegal, Co Carlow;
The Chart House, Dingle, Co Kerry;
The Lime Tree, Kenmare, Co Kerry;
The Winding Stair, Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin;
Cayenne, Belfast;
Fontana, Holywood, Co Down;
Restaurant 23, Warrenpoint, Co Down.

• The Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2008 has 4,567 entries, including 1,819 restaurants and pubs. It goes on sale tomorrow, priced at €23.20

Taster menus
Roasted scallops with warm skate and balsamic terrine, glazed slices of duck, shallot rings and rosemary.
Foie gras and prune terrine with pear purée, air dried duck, pickled pear slices and pistachio oil.
John Dory with Alfonso mango, new season courgette, sweet ginger, crab and coriander cress.
Loin of lamb with chickpeas, aubergine purée, dried tomato petals and buckler sorrel salad.
Cheese selection from Ireland and France.
Fresh raspberries with almond milk, raspberry jelly and almond biscuit.
Passion fruit with coconut cream, mango purée, Marmalade with warm caramel and passion fruit jelly. Tasting Menu with Wine €165 (a glass of wine to match each dish)
Coffee and Petits fours €6,50. Selection of tea, coffee and tisanes

Bon Appétit:€85
Amuse Bouche
Roast breast of quail, confit leg, red onion puree, dried ventreche and balsamic dressing
Tortellini of prawns with basil coulis, tomato fondue and lobster bisque
Fillet of turbot, braised baby gem, creamed root vegetables and pommery mustard jus
Roast fillet of beef, seared foie gras, black truffles and madeira jus
Pre Dessert or a selection of cheese with spiced pear chutney, cheese crackers and apricot and hazelnut bread (€10.00 Supplement)
Assiette of apple with cep ice cream
Petit Fours
Sommelier wine selection to accompany each course €50