IRISH chef Adrian Martin has opened his first restaurant at home - and claims its launch fulfils a lifelong dream.
The 30-year-old, who hails from Cavan, opens the doors to Wildflower Restaurant in Dublin on February 2.
Based in a listed Georgian house in Dublin’s south city, at 52 South Richmond Street, it was designed to combine “old world charm with a contemporary menu and sustainable ethos”.
Mr Martin’s mission is to “provide food as nature intended, focussing on sustainability, foraging, fermentation and quality local produce, and offering a passion for fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere”, he claims.
And he describes his menus as a “celebration of his roots with all dishes paying homage to his upbringing in county Cavan”.
Which is not dissimilar to the approach taken to his London branch of Wildflower, which he launched in a shipping container in Camden just days before the pandemic hit in March 2020.
Forced to close for a few months as the battle against Covid-19 began, Wildflower London did reopen in July 2020, and he finally got to bring his seasonally driven menus, inspired by his Irish roots, to the people of the capital.
And he has seemingly been busy ever since, working on his Dublin project, which he admits has been his “dream”.
“It has always been a dream of mine to open a restaurant at home in Ireland,” he said.
“I’ve had my eyes peeled just waiting for the right location and as soon as I walked through the door, I knew this was it.”
He added: “While I have created new dishes inspired by the producers we are working with, I have also kept some dishes that are dear to my heart such as our bread recipe, Sourdough Fermented Stout Bread, which we serve with Irish cultured butter, with Guinness jelly to spread on top.
“It reminds me of growing up and the taste and smell of my grandmother's kitchen.”
With just days left before the opening, and hospitality restrictions now lifted across Ireland, foodies can soon fully enjoy the fruits of Mr Martin’s labour.
And they are unlikely to be disappointed.
Guests will enter his Wildflower Restaurant in Dublin from street level into a Champagne Bar, complete with original sash windows, wooden floors, high ceilings and original architraves, complemented by walls decorated with an old Irish stamp collection.
Champagne at the restaurant is by Piper-Heidsieck, while cocktails using Irish spirits from suppliers like Slane Whiskey and Drumshanbo Distillery are infused in-house, and include a Gooseberry Collins, a Nettle Gimlet and a Dandelion-Root Martini.
Next is The Good Room, a regal 20-seater dining room featuring luxurious French antique armchairs which gives a hint to the French accent of Wildflower Restaurant’s menu.
Diners can choose from an á la carte three-course menu with petit fours and coffee for €70, featuring dishes like Hand Dived Scallop Ceviche with Meadow Sweet and Oscietra Caviar; Glazed Thornhill Duck with Foie Gras, Onion Miso, Vetch and Sauce Grand Veneur; and Valrhona White Chocolate Cremeux Tart with Wild Strawberries, Fig Leaf and Marigold.
An original stone staircase takes guests one floor down to a candlelit intimate space, Cellar at Wildflower, which also has a terrace for outdoor dining during warmer months.
The Cellar at Wildflower seats 12 diners for the restaurant’s stand out tasting menu, priced at €100 with pairing wines optional (ranging from an additional €55 to €120).
The Tasting Menu includes signature dishes like Jerusalem Artichokes with Leek Ash and Yarrow; Wild Halibut with Courgette Flower Brandade, Sea Aster and Truffle; and the Camden restaurant’s much-loved Wild Blackberry Vacherin with Crème Diplomat, Lemon Verbena and Wood Sorrel.
The restaurant aims to be zero waste, adhering to a zero-plastic and food waste recycling policy.
Cork-based artist Ian Brennan has been helping out too, creating the bespoke artwork featured throughout the building, while potter Sally George was commissioned to make all plates used at the restaurant.
In line with Mr Martin’s commitment to using the most sustainable sources, ingredients include foraged produce from Co. Clare based Thalli Foods; salt aged beef from Hannan Meats; duck from Thornhill Duck in Cavan; fish and shellfish from Sustainable Seafood Ireland as well as produce from Mr Martin’s own garden in Bawnboy, Co Cavan.
With so much to oversee in Dublin, it’s fortunate that Mr Martin’s London offering is currently closed for its seasonal break.
Bookings for Wildfire Restaurant, Dublin are now open here.