Paul Flynn is one of Ireland’s most respected and well-loved chefs. He regularly features on TV channel RTE’s food programmes, and was Head Chef at two Michelin starred restaurant Chez Nico in Battersea at the tender age of 23.
Back home on the Emerald Isle in 1997, Paul and his wife Máire set up the Tannery restaurant in the beautiful costal town of Dungarvan in County Waterford, South East Ireland. Such has been the success of the business, they have now expanded, and their foodie empire includes an elegant wine bar, cookery school, complete with its own kitchen garden and accommodation all within a few paces of each other in the town.
Paul is a regular feature at Irish foodie events and is a passionate advocate of good Irish food and ingredients. He’s also a thoroughly nice chap and is exceptionally friendly with a wicked sense of humour that really makes him so enjoyable to watch.
I recently paid a trip to The Tannery to try Paul’s cooking for myself. The Tannery is situated in an old building in the heart of Dungarvan town centre, which is just a few minutes detour from the main N25 road, which runs between Rosslare ferry port and Cork City, making it very easy to get to. Downstairs is an elegant and atmospherically lit wine bar, perfect for an evening drink, and upstairs is the bright, light and stylish dining room.
We kicked off the evening with a couple of cocktails from the restaurant’s own cocktail menu. Well made and beautifully presented, they are a must try when you visit.
The food at the Tannery was excellent. Standout dishes were the mushroom pie – beautiful buttery and flaky pastry filled with rich, tender mushrooms, perfectly made and topped with fresh flowers. If only my homemade pies looked as good as this.
For the main course, beef lovers really must try the delectable short ribs. Cooked to perfection, the meat is richly flavoured and perfectly cooked with slightly crisp edges and meltingly tender, generously sized chunks of beef that just fall off the bone.
Paul’s cooking is just the sort of thing I find exciting at the moment. It is really all about moving away from fancy, elaborate dishes and cooking more simple food supremely well, with a focus on fresh and seasonal Irish ingredients. Anyone with a larger appetite won’t be disappointed by the portion sizes, too. This is generous cooking at its best. We were given mashed potato to accompany our main course, but we couldn’t manage it. And, regrettably, after a starter and a main, neither of us could manage another morsel, which was a great shame as the dessert menu looked very enticing indeed.
A two-course meal for two with drinks costs around £100, which I think is good value for such good food. There is also an excellent selection of wines available by the glass if a bottle is too much to manage, or, if like me, you like to match a glass of wine to each course. However, if you’re looking to spend less, there is an excellent value ‘Easy Evening’ menu on offer every day apart from Sunday at specific times, priced at just 30 Euros for three courses.
I wish there were more restaurants like the Tannery. A meal here is an opportunity to enjoy contemporary Irish cooking at its very best.