Not too many starred chefs have ever blown up a kitchen, but Derry Clarke has. Aged 21, and newly arrived at the Delgany Inn from a few years cheffing in Kinsale, the young Clarke struck a match in the kitchen to see why the pilot light on the stove had gone out. When the bruised and battered Clarke managed to pick himself up, he realised the kitchen was destroyed. These days, as a veteran of the restaurant game heading towards 30 years of service in his L’Ecrivain Restaurant, Mr Clarke prefers quieter explosions, and he keeps them on the plate. L’Ecrivan food is slick, colourful and polished, but Clarke’s signature has always been a dedicated focus on powerful flavours: Angus beef with horseradish curd; charred mackerel with brown butter; turbot with pig’s head. Excellent service, and a great, energised room, make for one of Dublin’s classic restaurants.
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