A CHANCE meeting in an Irish bar in Chicago a decade ago led to the union of two people, and a marriage built on a love of food.
Chef Wade Murphy, originally from Gorey in Wexford, had been busy working on the new menu of the Four Seasons hotel in the Windy City, when he met Elaine Hourigan, from Rathkeale, niece of the famous Limerick horse trainer Michael, who was deputy general manager of Fitzpatrick’s hotel at the time.
Several jobs and countries later, and the couple have opened their first restaurant together, the curiously titled 1826 Adare in the picture postcard heritage town beloved of tourists and locals alike.
It’s burgeoning foodie reputation proved to be the perfect location for Wade, 40, who was worked with chefs with three Michelin stars in London, as well as in New York and Dublin.
“It was something we always wanted to do. When the opportunity came up here in Adare we jumped at it. It’s a beautiful area, it all just made sense,” he explained to the Limerick Leader.
The former executive chef of the Lodge in Doonbeg, Co Clare, said the name of the restaurant is inspired by the town’s roots.
After a search for a meaningful connection and a bit of history digging, they discovered that many of the thatch cottages in Adare were built in 1826, and local registers of births, deaths and marriages also began in that year.
The menu was inspired on a night out when they were eating in Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall.
Wade looked at the plate of sole and said: “This is what I want to do.”
Their food, he said, is about “clean, simple flavours” and is “not too fussy or fiddly”, often taking classics and giving them a fresh modern twist.
“Simple good cooking is all I want to do, where the ingredients speak for themselves.
“I used to work with seven or eight guys in a kitchen, but there’s just a couple of lads here - everything is stripped back,” he said.
The restaurant is in the former premises of the White Sage, next door to the Wild Geese and Blue Door restaurants.
n 1826 Adare is one of 20 restaurants participating in Love Gourmet Week from this weekend. Call 061 396004 to book. See also article below.