Words: Shamim de Brún
Words: Shamim de Brún
Michelin Monday is coming, so I’m taking on the Michelin Guide and its fickle stars. Who knows what the Michelin Star Dublin judges are thinking? But I’ll do my best to predict which Irish restaurants are about to get or lose their coveted stars.
There are currently 21 Michelin-starred restaurants on the island of Ireland, but people think a big shake-up may be on the cards. Last Month’s Paris guide was full of all sorts of omissions, reevaluations, losses and surprising entrants.
Library Street is my hot tip. While they have been around a little while, the past year has seen an elevation that is worth noting in any star-based tyre guide. While most of Ireland’s stars are smattered across multi-course tasting menu required places, Library Street’s more casual approach doesn’t rule them out. It all comes down to the food. Library Street’s food is thoughtful, not overly tweezered, but still evocative. I think they deserve a Michelin star for their kimchi cabbage alone. I have been unable to shut up about it since I tried it—perfect choice for a new star.
Will Note notch up to a star? It’s hard to say, but the international buzz around them is such that I wouldn’t be surprised. The only thing anyone has to say against Note is that they are spenny. But what starred spot is affordable? However, one of Michelins critical criteria is value, which is the only thing holding Note back from constellation-level recognition.
Mamo has been a long time almost in my book. Not only do they have one of the most iconic dishes in the city in their Cod Chip, but these guys are doing some boundary-pushing stuff, and it’s high time they got a starry Michelin nod. Michelin keeps much of its approach under wraps but does outline five main criteria for inclusion in the Guide – the quality of the products; mastery of flavour and cooking techniques; the chef’s personality in their cuisine; value for money; and consistency between visits. Mamo delivers on all these fronts.
The big question on everyone’s lips now is will finally get Ireland a three-star spot. For context, winning three Michelin stars is as big as winning an oscar. It is the pinnacle of ambition in this industry. It is so extraordinarily difficult that Ireland, as of yet, has not gotten one.
Until recently, Aimsir was a shoo-in to be the first, but they lost their chef and manager last month, which will likely stall their ambition. So I reckon they’ll rest at the two.
Maybe Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen gets the three? The Irish Times certainly thinks so, and they have eaten there this year – I have not. But if I was betting with my hard-earned money, it won’t be this year. It’ll be next year. There have been some huge leaps since last year, but if someone was to come to Dublin, especially for one dinner one time, would Chapo Uno be the restaurant I’d send them to?
No, for me, that would be Liath. Liath feels like something you’ve uncovered, and the food is unrelentingly delicate, thoughtful, tasty, and somewhat magical. Between the open kitchen, the dainty room size and the impression that all the staff genuinely enjoy working there, it’s hard to tell what the je ne sais quoi is, but they fundamentally have it. If anyone is going to bring home the world cup of the restaurant world to Ireland for the first time, my money is on Liath.
Mr Patrick Guilbaud said in an interview with the Irish Times in 2000, “It is not mysterious, or it is only mysterious for people who don’t get the Star and feel hard done by. It is difficult to get stars and difficult to keep them.” So I reckon he’ll continue along this two-star glory vein.
Maybe Grano‘s food might seem a bit too casual for a star, but Michelin has said since its inception that “it’s all about the food”. And they certainly provide that.
Woodruff is not for everyone. Octopus tentacles can scare off the faint-hearted, but by all the deities of man, do they taste phenomenal out of Woodruff!
Neighbourhood is hot-tipped and has been wowing critics with their inventive, hyper-local cooking, and it seems due for some more recognition. Also, they announced new Bib Goumonds this week already, and Neighbourhood seems an odd exclusion unless, of course, you’re going to bestow a higher honour. That said, it’s probably not open long enough to have gone through the multifaceted inspection rigmarole that would allow them to jump straight in at one Star.
I’m rooting for Terre to land in at 2 Stars. The buzz around them has been electrifying in every National Publication. Terre opened last September in Castlemartyr Co Cork to raves from every critic in the country. The Irish Times reckons they’re walk in at two stars, echoing Aimsir 2020.
Dede is currently a one star joint worth going to Cork City via West Cork for. That is the literal definition of what it is to deserve two stars. If they don’t get the second, I’ll be aghast.
Lignum is a shoo-in for a star. They have a glass-fronted pantry where they leave their butchered carcasses to age. If that doesn’t say ‘stars in their eyes’, I don’t know what else does. But, of course, the food is well-reviewed and is a real industry flex. If you’ve been at a hospitality event in the past few months, someone who has been to Lignum has asked if you’ve been just so they can tell you all about it. While I have not had the pleasure, I have fought with the internet to get a booking and flailed miserably. The Glastonbury level of reservation difficulty smells like a Michelin Star to me.
But who am I kidding? All I know is that I’ll be refreshing Twitter frantically until the news is out Monday morning. And then, of course, I’ll have some strong opinions about it because that’s what we do at CHAR.
Elsewhere on CHAR: What Does It Mean to Get a Michelin Star