Is this the way to go? – The Irish Times

Two new food businesses opened in Dublin this week, with Fable Bakery setting up shop in the Dawson Street branch of healthy fast food restaurant Sprout & Co and restaurateur and chef Alan O’Reilly launching Laurel, a 30-seater restaurant in Blackrock’s main street.

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Fable Bakery, whose residency is for the first 12 months, is moving into a food business incubator space hosted by Jack and Theo Kirwan, founders of Sprout, in recognition of the challenges food startups face in the climate current economic.

A seasoned restaurateur whose career has seen him open a number of restaurants in Dublin, including Clarets, Morels, Alexis and Wildside, O’Reilly offers a choice of five starters, five main courses and four desserts on a regularly changing menu.

In the week before the new tipping legislation went into effect, Laurel’s menu clearly states, “No Service Charge – All tips go directly to the staff.” O’Reilly says his policy is to have a dedicated staff member monitor tips, and once the system is transparent, he has no input, preferring to let the staff manage it themselves.

The Kirwans invited expressions of interest from new food businesses to take up space in front of their Dawson Street branch, and Fable Bakery, run by Kate O’Sullivan and Elyse Clarke, was successful with over 60 applicants. The couple will sell a range of sweet and savory cakes, and coffee from artisan roaster Imbibe, in Dublin 8.

“Kate and Elyse are doing something special. It’s Fable’s early days, but it’s clear they really understand food and how it can bring people together. The rolls they make are phenomenal, and I’m proud to have them being prepared in Sprout’s kitchens and served at our Dawson Street restaurant,” says Jack Kirwan. The bakers will use Sprout’s kitchen on Dawson Street from 3 am to 7 am, before day staff arrive.

O’Sullivan and Clarke retrained at Ballymaloe Cookery School, in Co Cork, after their careers in finance and social media marketing. They met while working at No Messin’ Bakery in Dublin 7, which they left to set up Fable Bakery in July this year. Until now they had been selling only at the Herbert Park and Phibsborough food markets; O’Sullivan says the opportunity at Sprout jump-started his plans to open a physical store in about three years.

They specialize in baked goods with “Scandinavian influence and Irish provenance”. In addition to a variety of brioche buns, they will have a seasonally changing galette and tart menu, and an always available dark chocolate sea salt cookie. Fable Bakery will be open at Sprout on Dawson Street between 7:30am and 4:00pm Monday through Friday and between 9:00am and 4:30pm on Saturdays.

In Blackrock, in South Dublin, chef and patron Alan O’Reilly opened Laurel on the first floor of the Kelly & Coopers pub at 39 Main Street. O’Reilly describes it as “a neighborhood restaurant serving modern Irish cuisine with a classic French heart”. The restaurant’s head chef is Paula Patz, who has worked at Pichet and Forest & Marcy.

“Our goal is to offer quality cuisine at fair prices, in a warm and friendly environment,” says O’Reilly. “We realize that value for money is likely to become more important than ever for diners, so we have worked hard to put together a menu and wine list that delivers on both value elements – price and quality. Our goal is to make Laurel feel special enough to celebrate big occasions, yet accessible enough for a last-minute weeknight dinner.”

Starters cost €10.50-15, main courses €21-28 and desserts €10. Laurel will be open between 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday.

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