“I don't have a one liner or indeed a paragraph, or any decent marketing story or mission statement about the food at The Idle Wall.”
So says Aine Maguire of her new Westport restaurant. Well, we are the writers, so how would we do that job for Ms Maguire's work in The Idle Wall?
One Liner: Aine Maguire is cooking Goody with creamy milk and burnt sugar, on the quays in Westport, County Mayo, the town voted the best place to live in Ireland: why aren't you there already?
Marketing Story: The chef who rewrote the book on using the raw ingredients of Ireland's culinary foodways back in 2006 returns to her native county and puts her name above the door.
Mission Statement: “The food memories from my youth have always been an inspiration in my professional work, and I want to show their impact on how I work.”
Time moves at warp speed in the modern food world, so many food lovers will have forgotten the seismic shift in food styles that Aine Maguire – and owner Elaine Murphy – effected when they re-opened The Winding Stair, on Dublin's Ormond Quay, in 2006. Their impact on the city's food culture was colossal, and you could hardly get a table to eat smoked haddock poached in milk, or Kerry prawns with sour cream, or collar bacon with parsley sauce. A year after they had been going, we wrote that “this is one of those restaurants that expresses the zeitgeist of both the culinary culture and the city culture, and that is no mean feat.”
What had Ms Maguire managed to do? She made the domestic sexy. She took the foods of her childhood – ox tongue; eel, summer salad with half a boiled egg, a scallion, cooked ham, pickled beets, potato salad and butterhead lettuce – and she contemporised them, and made them irresistible to a city audience. Best of all, she gave people food that they wanted, but that they hadn't known they wanted. Doing that is the mark of a great restaurateur, for it is how you effect change in the restaurant business. The Idle wall gives Ms Maguire the place to do the same thing, once again, as she serves the west and the world dishes like mackerel with cally and peas, and cluasins with lemon and curly parsley, and Goody, and gulls eggs, and steamed sponge pudding.
Aine Maguire shakes it up, one more time.