The Masterchef and Hell’s Kitchen star opened the doors to his massive 7,000 square-foot premises in the heart of Dublin’s Temple Bar especially for our readers.
The ambitious new business – called Avenue – houses two different restaurants, a cocktail bar and private dining room. And Nick’s even mucking in with the builders in a bid to get the business open on time for his first customers on March 27.
However, he said that contrary to Government proposals, he WON’T be putting calorie counts on his menus.
“Restaurants are not the cause of obesity, and we’re not going to fix obesity either,” he said.
“A restaurant is where people come for a treat, a little bit of escapism, so why should we dictate what they eat? People are intelligent enough to know what they want.
“It’s quite farcical really. These rules might be good for fast food places, but they don’t change their menus on a regular basis.”
Avenue will see Nick bounce back into the restaurant scene for the first time since parting company with his co-owners in Pichet last year. A play on the words ‘A Venue’, the hot new addition to Dublin’s restaurant scene will include a casual dining restaurant, called Munier, on the ground floor.
Nick’s aiming to break conventions by providing top-quality food at affordable prices in an opulent setting. There’s also a private dining area for parties of up to 20 people.
Upstairs, another restaurant, Eclair De Luxe, will provide an all-day casual dining menu in a room inspired by classic railway carriages like those on the Orient Express. And cocktail fans will get their fix in the basement at the hands of a top mixologist in a party atmosphere.
And Nick and Avenue director Enda McCabe are even making plans for a FOURTH venue at the top of the building!
When we visited, Nick was frantically putting together plans to have the premises ready.
“Yes it’s stressful, it’s hard work and it’s tiring, but I genuinely believe we’ll be ready on the night,” he said.
“You need to offer something that you know people will want, but we will have to tweak it as we go along. The place looks quite slick, which might intimidate some people, but I want to break that barrier. It’s all about the craic, the fun. And you can arrive in shorts – whatever you want goes!”
The restaurateur also revealed that his ‘Bromance’ with former boss Marco Pierre White (below) is back on track. The two fell out when Nick went solo to open his own restaurant several years ago, but have made up and now speak every day.
They’re back on close terms after Nick spotted Marco at his Dawson Street steakhouse recently.
“I was walking down Dawson Street and he was there, having a cup of coffee. I thought ‘be the bigger man and go in’.
“Now we’re back bantering, we talk to each other every morning and night. It’s as if nothing had ever changed. We’re talking about the old days, reminiscing, and it’s an amazing feeling.”
He said he’s excited to be opening a new place at a time when Ireland is finally, slowly, coming out of a recession.
“Is there optimism in the air? I hope so. I’ve taken on this huge project and we’re hoping that people will get what we’re doing. I’m hovering between excitement, nervousness and anticipation.”