Inside Michelin-star winners Heron & Grey with The Irish Times

Award for intimate Blackrock restaurant brings to 12 the number of gilded eateries on island

Andrew Heron, one half of Heron and Grey in Dublin's Blackrock, gives his reaction after Heron and Grey was awarded a Michelin star. Video: Meggie Morris

 

Heron & Grey in Blackrock Market, Co Dublin, became one of the world’s smallest Michelin-starred restaurants on Monday when the only new star for Ireland was announced at a ceremony in London.

Damien Grey and his front of house partner Andrew Heron took over the tiny restaurant, formerly known as The Canteen, in December.

Seating just 24 people, the restaurant works out of tiny kitchen. There are no windows and no view.

However, Mr Grey says they are happy to stay where they are.

“If we moved to expand it, that may take away from what Heron & Grey is.

The restaurant opens only three nights a week and Mr Grey said they have no plans to change that.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show, Mr Grey said: “We want to make it work for us. Chefs work horrendous hours. It is paramount to us that our families don’t suffer.

“We will make plans to let it grow organically.”

The winners of Ireland’s latest Michelin star restaurant say they have no plans to expand or move into larger premises.

When asked to describe the restaurant he said Heron & Grey is “small, cute and quirky”.

The premises, in a corner of Blackrock Market opens just three nights a week, Thursday to Saturday.

Diners use the market toilets around the corner as the restaurant premises is too small to house its own.

The restaurant serves a €48 five-course set tasting menu.

Ingredients are picked every two weeks and the menu is then based on in-season produce. There is no beef on the menu and the plan is not to include any for a year.

“We cook from the heart. We try to give taste buds a different experience. We hope to entice people to try different things. That’s why we have a set menu,” explained Mr Grey.

Michelin visit

He described how the Michelin critic visited last April. “We got a call from a London number looking to make a reservation three weeks in advance. It was for one person and that made us think it might be someone from Michelin.

“He arrived, sat down and Andrew entertained him all night. We kept getting visits. Then they tweeted about it.

“Last week we got a call asking us to come to the awards ceremony in London and we thought then we might be getting an award.”

Mr Grey, who is from Australia, has lived in Ireland for 17 years while co-owner Andrew Heron is a native of Malahide, Co Dublin and he spent nine years working in Australia.

Mr Grey admitted that it was “very, very difficult” not to reveal details of the award. “The first thing I wanted to do was to phone the chefs who had trained me, but we couldn’t even tell our mams or our children.”

When asked if they had a problem with “no shows” he replied rarely, but that for the month of December they will operate a prepayment system for meals.

The restaurant is fully booked until January.

The new star for Heron & Grey brings to 12 the number of Michelin starred restaurants on the island of Ireland, two in the north and 10 in the south.

No Irish restaurant lost a star this year, compared to the surprise last year when Kevin Thornton lost his long-held star.

Mr Thornton told The Irish Times last month that he is closing Thorntons at the end of October, saying losing the Michelin star felt like a “stab in the heart”.