Richard Corrigan, the London-based Irish chef and restaurateur, has bought the premises formerly operated as Nuala, an Irish restaurant in Shoreditch, and in September will re-open it as Daffodil Mulligan.
The new bar and restaurant will have “the unique feel of a great Irish pub,” Corrigan told The Irish Times. “It will be about food, chat and music, like a home from home when you are outside of Ireland. It’s hard to find that in London,” he said.
But the menu will not be exclusively Irish in its inspiration. “It will be food that I like to eat – tasty, delicious and well crafted,” he said, while confirming that Middle Eastern vegetarian and North African influences would be a significant part of the menu, with vegetables supplied by his Irish estate, Virginia Park Lodge.
Corrigan already has two London restaurants – Bentleys Oyster Bar & Grill and Corrigan’s, Mayfair – as well as Virginia Park Lodge, which operates as a wedding and special events location. The Cavan estate, which he bought in 2013, employs 10 gardeners who produce vegetables and fruit for use there as well as at his London restaurants, which receive weekly deliveries.
Daffodil Mulligan, named after the daughter of Biddy Mulligan “the pride of the Coombe”, will retain the open kitchen and fire-cooking that characterised its previous incarnation as Nuala, which opened in late 2017 to favourable reviews from critics, but closed unexpectedly in January 2019.
Niall Davidson, the Derry-born chef who will open Allta in South Frederick Street in Dublin 2 later this summer, was a minority shareholder in Nuala, which was named after his sister. However he departed the venture three months into its short tenure. "Unfortunately my vision for the place and the partners' didn't match," he said today, wishing Corrigan success with the space.
“I had a chat to Niall before I even touched it, Corrigan said of his new site. “I really liked what he had set out, he was really on the money with the idea of a modern Irish place in London.”
Tony Gibney from Gibney's of Malahide will be involved in the pub part of the venture, which Corrigan estimates will be about 40 per cent of the business, and another Irishman, John Nugent, chief executive of the hospitality group Green & Fortune, is also involved.
“Old Street is an amazing site, it’s the new West End,” said Corrigan, whose expansion copperfastens the rising reputation of Irish food and Irish chefs in the UK capital.
Last month chef and restaurateur Robin Gill opened Darby's, a 150-seater bar, restaurant and bakery at the Ballymore development, Embassy Gardens in Battersea, and Anna Haugh launched Myrtle in Chelsea, a neighbourhood restaurant named after Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe and showcasing Irish ingredients.
Next month Allegra, a 130-seat restaurant and bar on the seventh floor of the Manhattan Loft Gardens skyscraper in Stratford, will open with Irishman Patrick Powell, formerly head chef at Chiltern Firehouse, in charge of the kitchen.
The restaurant will have 80 seats inside and a further 50 outside, on a weatherproofed terrace with its own kitchen and wood-fired grill, under a triple height cedar clad cantilevered roof.