Michelin-star chef apologises for bad language but defends actions

The chips were down for a customer who ordered French fries at Kevin Thornton's Michelin-star restaurant on Saturday night.

The chips were down for a customer who ordered French fries at Kevin Thornton's Michelin-star restaurant on Saturday night.

Thornton's Restaurant in the Fitzwilliam Hotel on St Stephen's Green, Dublin, belongs to an elite group of just four Michelin-star restaurants in the Republic.

But when Glenn Waldron asked for French fries with his venison, the dining experience turned sour for the party of seven.

There are differing accounts of what happened next but there was a heated exchange between the party and Mr Thornton and events culminated in the group being told to leave the restaurant.

Derek Murphy, who booked the group's table, told RTÉ's Liveline programme that he and his friends regularly dined out in Dublin but had never been treated in such an "arrogant and insulting" manner before.

He said the group had to wait for more than an hour for their table. When Mr Waldron received his venison dish he asked for French fries because the dish looked "insubstantial".

However, the chips were not brought to the table until the main courses had been cleared away and the dessert menus were on the table.

Mr Waldron told the waiter it was too late as the meal was finished and they were about to order their desserts. Then Mr Thornton emerged from the kitchen, bearing the controversial side order.

"He said to Glenn in no uncertain terms: 'We don't have French fries on the menu. These were ordered for you. They were cooked specially for you, so you eat them, you d***head' and he threw them down on the table," Mr Murphy claimed.

After a further exchange of views, which involved some colourful language from the chef, the group was robustly ordered from the busy restaurant which had turned strangely silent during the incident.

Last night Mr Thornton issued a statement rejecting the men's recollection of events but apologising for using bad language.

"This is the second time in the 15 years being in the restaurant business that we felt we had to ask anyone to leave the premises and we feel totally justified that we made the right decision," he said.

"Needless to say the scenario on Saturday night, as depicted by the two gentlemen on Liveline, was not a true version of events.

"Rather than engage in a tit-for-tat debate, I would prefer for my part to apologise for using offensive language and reiterate the point I made on the evening in question, which is that it is completely unacceptable to treat the team at Thornton's in the manner in which some members of that group did, from the moment of their arrival," he said.

"The final caller to Liveline on today's show was a guest in the restaurant also on Saturday last and his comments offered a more realistic picture of the evening."

The final caller said he had received "impeccable service and impeccable food" at the restaurant on the same night.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times