Ireland's food scene has had its fair share of rising stars come up in recent years, and with the announcement of the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2020, held in London this evening, some of those were awarded stars to match their glowing reputations.
Eight Irish restaurants were celebrated at the prestigious ceremony, held in the Hurlingham private members' club in Fulham, where chefs from the most revered restaurants in the UK and Ireland were gathered.
Mike Tweedy of Adare Manor was the first to scoop a new Michelin star, for his celebrated Oak Room restaurant at the luxury 5 star hotel in Co Limerick. The Guide said that Tweedy "champions Ireland's artisan producers in his understated modern dishes".
Bastion in Kinsale nabbed a star for itself, headed by Scottish chef Paul McDonald and praised for its "pared back cooking", while Belfast's Muddlers Club was also awarded a star for its "young and enthusiastic team" headed by Gareth McCaughey and notable for their "robust and confidently executed cooking".
Next, Variety Jones in Dublin, a chic and vibrant spot that the Guide called "on-trend", nabbed a star for its clever cooking that makes the most of its spectacular open fire.
However, the first of two big wins came as Aimsir was awarded two Michelin stars, a stunning win for the recently opened restaurant and a watershed moment for Irish restaurants.
A clear frontrunner, Aimsir, the intimate 24-seater restaurant at Cliff at Lyons in Co Kildare, has beguiled critics and customers since opening in May of this year. Run by Jordan Bailey and manager Majken Christensen and focusing on inventive dishes using ingredients indigenous to Ireland and rarely seen in fine dining, the spot has raked in the awards already.
The Guide praised the restaurant for their "18+ labour intensive courses" which are "superbly balanced & testament to his commitment to seeking out the best suppliers".
Bailey will feature on next week's episode of Beyond the Menu on RTÉ, hosted by Mark Moriarty, a chef with The Greenhouse in Dublin. Viewers will see his restaurant Aimsir come together – going from a construction site to a classy fine-dining space. "You can just tell it is designed by people who love what they do," says Moriarty. "This is the new benchmark of top end fine-dining in Ireland."
Rounding out a blinding night of wins for Ireland, The Greenhouse in was awarded another Michelin star, bringing their total to two, and was celebrated for its "dynamic kitchen" and dishes that shine with "flair, depth and clarity".
The Greenhouse on Dublin's Dawson Street has long been a centre for exquisite food, with head chef Mickael Viljanen taking over the kitchen in 2012 and steering the understated restaurant towards its Michelin star win in 2016. Specialising in modern reinterpretations of modern European dishes, it's a spot that consistently turns out some of the best dishes in Ireland.
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud retained its two-star award, an accolade it has held since 1996.
In the days leading up to the announcement, the Michelin Guide seemed to drop some hints that there would be greater recognition of Irish talents, saying they would be awarding a "record" amount of stars and that they would be spread "far and wide".
In one of the first awards of the night, Enda McEvoy of Loam in Galway won a Special Michelin Guide award for sustainability, shortly followed by Jurica Gojevic from Adare Manor, who won the new Michelin Guide Sommelier Award.
In an industry flush with award ceremonies and prizes, the Michelin Guide remains one of the benchmarks for excellence for many chefs. Irish Twitter was awash with updates from chefs and critics making the trip to London for the ceremony, their excitement immediately palpable.
Currently, Japan is the country with the most Michelin stars, with 31, followed by France and the United States at 27 and 14 respectively.
Last Friday, five new Irish restaurants received the distinction of Bib Gourmand, another accolade from the Michelin Guide which celebrates restaurants that offer good quality and good value cooking for £30 (€34) or under for three courses.
Thyme in Co Westmeath, Land to Sea in Co Kerry, Uno Mas in Dublin city centre, Circa, Co Dublin and Balloo House Co Down were the restaurants celebrated.
Meanwhile, nine restaurants in Ireland were knocked from the list including Bastible, Pig's Ear and Etto in Dublin and James St in Belfast, prompting some to speculate that they were to be added to the Michelin Guide with a star or two.
Read the full list of new and existing Michelin-starred restaurants in Ireland below:
- Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin
- The Greenhouse, Dublin
- Aimsir, Kildare
- L'Ecrivain, Dublin
- Chapter One, Dublin
- The Greenhouse, Dublin
- Campagne, Kilkenny
- Lady Helen, Kilkenny
- House at Cliff House Hotel
- Ichigo Ichie, Cork
- Restaurant Chestnut, Ballydehob
- Mews, Baltimore
- Wild Honey Inn, Lisdoonvarna
- Aniar, Galway
- Loam, Galway
- Ox, Belfast
- Eipic, Belfast
- Variety Jones, Dublin
- Muddlers Club, Belfast
- Bastion, Kerry
- The Oak Room at Adare Manor, Limerick