Any foodie worth their salt has likely tried one or more of Elaine Murphy’s plethora of Dublin restaurants, all located north of the river. Elaine champions local produce, traditional Irish recipes and cooking methods and is an advocate for ethically sourced ingredients. That much is evident at each of her restaurants, along with the primary focus of simply producing really good food that people want to eat.

The list of restaurants include city stalwarts such as; The Winding Stair, The Woollen Mills, Grand Social and Yarn Pizza, The Washerwoman in Glasnevin and the most recent addition to the pack, the Legal Eagle in Dublin 7.

We chatted with Elaine about passions, culinary trends and of course to share some of her traditional-with-a-twist Irish recipes. 

What’s the key to running a successful restaurant?
Passion is the number one factor. It’s not the glamorous life that people may believe and so you really must remain in love with what you do as well as learning and honing your craft. I also think that being clear about your identity is incredibly important. Know who you are and what you do and stay true to that. You can’t be all things to all people. Never apologise for being passionate and even emotional about your vision because this is what sets you apart from others.

What is your food ethos?

I think (I hope!) that my food ethos could best be described as honest. For me, it’s all about local, Irish, honest food. The produce must shine from the plate without too much ‘cheffiness’ or ego. For all of our restaurants, we source almost exclusively from within the island. Other than a few ingredients like lemons, coffee and most of the wine, you can have an entire meal sourced from within our shores.

The ‘nose-to-tail’ movement is all about using less popular cuts of meat and the entire animal in cooking, the parts that would usually be discarded. Why do you think it is so important?

For both ethical and environmental reasons, we are hugely passionate about getting people to understand that there is space for different types of sustainable eating. The idea that nose-to-tail and eating lots of exciting vegetables are two sides of the same coin is a hard idea for many to understand, but it’s true!

What do you see as being a big trend in modern Irish cooking in the next few years?
I really hope that we can leave behind high ‘concept’ food and make a full return to taste and quality.

In terms of food on the world stage, do you think Ireland is leading in any areas?
Ireland is a hotbed of innovation when it comes to food. I think particular attention should be paid to the smaller producers. Celebrating and providing them with the necessary support will be what sets us apart on an international level.

What are your favourite restaurants in Ireland?

There are too many to choose, but I’ll try!

The Greenhouse, the Romano and Musashi in Dublin.

Ox and Mourne Seafood Bar in Belfast.

Kai in Galway,

 Deasy’s in Clonakilty, Cork.

The Wild Honey Inn and Bar Trá in Co. Clare.

Portrait by: Anthony Woods

PICKLED EGGS

Add to salads, charcuterie boards or just as a homemade pub grub side.

Ingredients:

  • 12 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cooled
  • 2–3 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 200ml white vinegar
  • 100ml water
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 100g sugar
  • 4 teaspoons pickling spices (choose one without cloves, which will help keep the brine from turning brown)

Method:

1 Place all ingredients except eggs, garlic, and dill in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool slightly.

3 Add garlic clove to the jar. Place three eggs in a large jar. Top with some of the cooked onion slices and a sprig of dill. Repeat until the jar is full.

Pour the liquid over the eggs and seal the jar.

Refrigerate at least 3-4 days before eating (one week is best).

Tip: Try using a few slices for beetroot or jalapeno in the pickle

Check out more of Elaine's delicious recipes from The Legal Eagle below:

Roasted bone marrow with oxtail

Irish cheese flatbread