The opening of The Ivy on Dawson Street is one of the most highly anticipated new openings in Dublin. Ahead of the restaurant’s opening, I chatted to their head chef, Nick Lentini, about his career and what visitors can expect when The Ivy opens its doors.
Coming from a family that was heavily involved in the hospitality industry, one of Nick’s earliest cherished cooking memories came from his grandmother in Italy:
“One of my earliest memories of food was cooking with my Nonna in Italy. We would make fresh pasta at around 4am and then leave it to dry in aerated baskets. Then we would go to the farm and select our vegetables for the day as well as protein such as chicken or rabbit. Lunch in Italy usually consisted of seven courses, enjoyed over 2-3 hours. Working in my grandfather’s hotels and catering at weddings were also some of my earliest experiences.”
With a love of travelling, Nick has worked in kitchens across America, Australia, France, Italy and Scotland, some of which were Michelin starred restaurants that were “great training and led me to where I am today”. Nick’s travels have influenced his cooking style, with the chef explaining:
“My travels helped me develop a range of skills in a very short timeframe. When I worked in Italy, I learnt a lot about traditional Italian food and working with fish. Various types of lobsters and other fantastic fresh fish would come in daily, from red mullet to red prawns, and I would often head to the local markets and source ingredients for the restaurant to accompany these dishes.”
Now, as head chef of The Ivy Dawson Street, I asked what people can expect. Nick commented that “effortless glamour for every occasion” is on the menu: “Diners should expect good food and friendly, reliable service, all set within a beautiful, glamorous setting. As well as the main restaurant and bar, guests will also be able to enjoy a private dining room seating up to 36 guests – perfect for private parties and events.”
The brasserie will be open all day, seven days a week, serving everything from breakfast, light bites, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and weekend brunch.
Speaking about the menu, Nick said: “Our breakfast menu will include a number of tasty dishes such as avocado and spinach benedict, hot buttermilk pancakes with fresh berries, Greek yoghurt, lemon balm and warm strawberry sauce, caramelised grapefruit, and scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.
Our a la carte menu will feature dishes including Atlantic sea scallops, a raw market salad, whole baked sea bass, tuna carpaccio, and steak tartare.”
As well as locally-inspired dishes, our menus will also feature a selection of Ivy Collection favourites including blackened cod fillet, The Ivy hamburger and a melting chocolate bombe – perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.
The Ivy menu is described in the UK as comprising of “modern British dishes”. With the Irish eatery opening, I wondered whether there would be an Irish feel to the menu, with Nick teasing: “Yes, there will most certainly be Irish elements, influences and ingredients incorporated into our menus at The Ivy Dawson Street, with further information coming soon!”
Curious as to what’s on the menu at The Ivy Dawson Street, I asked Nick if he has any favourite dishes on the menu: “For me personally it would have to be either our soft goat’s cheese salad, with caramelised hazelnuts, Belgian endive, mixed grapes and picked herbs, or tempura prawns, with pickled mouli, cucumber, edamame and a matcha tea sauce. For dessert, I love our apple tarte fine, with vanilla ice cream and flambéed Calvados – it’s delicious.”
One of the most anticipated new openings in Dublin, Nick thinks there will be multiple draws for Dublin diners, saying: “I think it will be a mixture of elements including our central location on Dawson Street – we’re situated at the new landmark building, One Molesworth.”
“We will be accessible to all, offering something for all occasions including everything from a morning coffee and light snack, to working lunches, weekend brunch with friends, or celebratory dinners with family. We will hold back a number of tables each day for walk-ins for this purpose, ensuring passers-by are able to pop in.”
So, with all the chatter around The Ivy, I can’t help but wonder how Nick is feeling about heading up the kitchen for this exciting new venture:
I am very excited to be part of the opening, especially being Irish myself. We have recruited a fantastic senior team here in Dublin, all of whom have worked in some of the city’s finest restaurants.
“I completely trust them and know they’ll do a great job. During the recruitment process it was so refreshing to see so many young and aspiring chefs come through the doors, all of whom are hugely passionate and hungry to succeed in their careers.”
A chef’s lifestyle can be extremely demanding, especially when you’re at the helm of a new restaurant. For Nick, having a wife who understands the pressure is a big help:
“My wife is a chef so she understands the trade. I personally feel your level of work/life balance depends on what stage of your life you’re in. For me, I have a family so it’s more important now to have a good work/life balance than when I was younger.”
Although spending time with my family is incredibly important, work is what drives me. I’m very proud of what I do and couldn’t just go in to work and clock in and out. It would make me miserable.
Stating “the people” and “the characters” as the part of his job that he loves the most, Nick admits to love “seeing a young chef develop into a senior chef and helping them as much as I can along the way. Tasting food with my chefs is also very important to me. There’s a lot of chefs out there that can cook the ingredients but they don’t know what the final product tastes like, so I really encourage that.”
So, it all comes down to this. Have you been convinced to visit The Ivy when it opens this summer? If not, Nick has some final words for you:
“We can’t wait to welcome our new neighbours and those both living and visiting Dublin when we open this summer. Our aim is to offer something for all occasions, whatever the day of the week or time of day, catering for all ages and appetites.”
For more information about the new Ivy restaurant opening in Dublin this summer, visit theivydublin.com.
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Named Best Break Out Travel Writer at the 2018 Travel Media Awards, Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.
A big people person, especially when it comes to hearing other people’s stories, Sarah loves interviewing chefs, food producers and more.