Our Twenty-Seventh Day
At this very moment I am listening to the quiet in L. Mulligan. Grocer. The ice machine is steadying itself for the service ahead, clunking and churning as it produces its little cubes with a recess in the top, reminiscent of the well worn pool chalk that was wedged into the side of the snooker table that Michael and Colin helped carry out the back of the pub merely hours before we opened. Our lovely French chef Jerome is speaking very softly in the kitchen, perhaps to himself. The quiet won’t last, and I am glad. In an hour or so, at 4pm the doors will open on our 27th day, and shortly after that the space will start to fill with chatter, the clink of tiles from our new Scrabble set, clattering knives, forks and potted crab jars, the sound of being busy. It is great, exhausting, overwhelming, humbling.
We now have food. Those four words seem innocuous as they are written, but they belie the all-consuming struggle to get our tiny kitchen commissioned, stocked and staffed. Even now we are a one-chef outfit with Jerome leaving each day a shadow of the man he arrived having toiled over prep, service and cleanup. We are working on getting more staff, again starting the surreal process of interviewing: never quite sure how to strike the balance between explaining our passion for what we are doing, and listening to theirs. In that rambling way of an exhausted person I have digressed- I wanted to tell you about the food, for example our amazing slow roasted pork belly. The belly is free-range, unctuous, meltingly good. So far we have served it nearly every day, sometimes with a Sailor Jerry rum reduction and mash speckled with flakes of dulse, other days with griddled vegetables, glazed with an organic Galician cider we sell in the bar for €7.50 for 750mL. It is good. I find myself even longing for the cooler weather of the last week to continue so we have an excuse to leave it on the menu. It is coming off though, tomorrow or Thursday I think, and being replaced by Moules Frites, (mussels and chips) which we served on our first evening with a mayonnaise that borrowed the spices of Hoegaarden: white pepper, coriander seed, curacao peel. The mussels are served in a dinky pot, and the chips in a cone, which we worry might be too contrived, but is a lot of fun anyway.
For the next small while the menu will continue to change daily, sometimes we reorder things when they are popular, or when we have had requests for them or when there is a glut of something at the market. We have not been without the potted crab yet, mainly because people come back specifically for it, but also because it is a favourite amongst the three of us. The daily menu will be posted on Twitter, Facebook and our website (which is hopefully going to be de-‘Flash’ed next week Iphone users). We love to hear from people what they think works, what we should do more of (or less of). The menu is evolving and changing, and we would love to know what you think.