I'm not making this up. We are living in an age when Irish chefs think Caesar Salad comes with chicken.
The same guys who have desecrated Caesar Cardini's classic creation, however, tend to be less inventive and rather more derivative when it comes to the rest of their menus.
The Chicken Caesars, these Emperors of invention, offer these things on their menus: Confit belly of pork. Braised shank of lamb with root vegetables. Dry Aged Rib-eye steak with béarnaise and chips. Bangers and mash with onion gravy. Warm salad of goat's cheese. Hamburger with crispy onion rings and potato wedges. Battered cod with pea purée. Bailey's parfait. Panacotta.
We live in a universe of untold diversity. But you sure wouldn't think it if you were eating in Irish restaurants.
Time and again, the new warhorses, the new prawn cocktail-sirloin steak/black forest gateau clichés are wheeled out in every county of the country. You could travel the length and breadth of Ireland and eat nothing but battered cod with peas and shank of lamb and risotto with mushrooms and crème brulee. What on earth is going wrong?
I mean, if you are going to copy someone, for Heaven's sake make it Seamus O'Connell - tea smoked duck with Earl Grey gravy; wild Irish salmon with carrot crust and grapefruit sauce were two things Seamus had on the menu at Parknasilla during the season - or Denis Cotter - beetroot mouse with orange-scented yogurt, watercress and fennel crispbreads - or George Kehoe of Carlow's Waterfront Restaurant - carpaccio of Hereford beef with horseradish ice cream and beetroot pickle - or Seamus McDonald of Kerry's Out Of The Blue, who created a stunning dish of turbot cutlet with its own foie gras and with the roe of the fish smoked and then stuffed into morels. A violet mustard sauce completed a stunning creation, and one that used every bit of the fish.
Why not copy the best, in other words? Why not plagiarise those who are worth plagiarising? Why copy those who think that adding chicken to a Caesar salad somehow makes it "Classic".
So, let's ditch the clichés, and let's have a new template of things that are Worth Copying: Niall McKenna's lobster salad with tomato ceviche; Alden's haunch of rabbit with cabbage, pine nuts and currants; Danny Millar's rump of Finnebrogue venison with boxty and Bushmills; Aine Maguire's bacon collar with parsley sauce and organic cabbage.
So, tell us the dish which you have most enjoyed in an Irish restaurant, and suggestions for any other "classics" that should be deemed forbidden.