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Honesty and harmony

The surprisingly genuine Irish overtones of L'Ecrivain's elaborate cuisine have made this place a hit among tourists and locals alike.

Published on September 8, 2007

Honesty and harmony

The fish is caught daily across Ireland and flown directly to Dublin for optimal freshness.

The light-wooded interior with its arrays of tainted mirrors and tactfully formal atmosphere is host to a clever display of robust, well-prepared modern Irish dishes, with a palpable emphasis on fish and game.

The fish is caught daily across Ireland and flown directly to Dublin for optimal freshness. Some of the must-takes include the assiette of Dublin Bay prawns and the loin of wild venison with candied pear, celeriac mousseline and beetroot jus. The private dining room with its glass-enclosed cellar provides a pleasant decor.

Some claim he is Dublin's finest, but what first meets the eye about Derry Clarke is his extraordinary charisma and cheerfulness. This wide-shouldered, almost Rabelaisian figure presides over L'Ecrivain like an amiable giant, working restlessly without ever losing his touching simplicity.

"Chefs like to think that they're the creators, but they couldn't do it without the raw ingredients," he explains.

"It's the producers of the ingredients that start the ball rolling. They're the horse and we're the cart."

This personal philosophy of humility and respect for the products seems to suit Clarke pretty well: both his simplicity and sincerity can be felt and tasted in his skilfully crafted, exquisitely presented dishes.

"I like honesty in food," Clarke admits, but as we all know, honesty alone does not necessarily make a great chef. So what is it that makes him so special?

"Harmony," he says. "I always try to ensure that all the flavours are in harmony."

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