Our next ‘5 minutes with…’ interviewee is John Kenwright from popular The Townhouse Restaurant in Dundalk. John worked his way up from kitchen porter to head chef/proprietor, and takes great pleasure in delivering high-quality, seasonal produce to discerning diners in his hometown.
Name: John Kenwright
Job Title: Head Chef/Proprietor
Restaurant Name: The Townhouse Restaurant, Dundalk
Describe the style of restaurant
What is your restaurants USP (Unique Selling Point) or best feature?
Our location means that we are in an excellent position to benefit from the wealth of produce in our locality. Be it from the shores of Carlingford Lough, across the Cooley mountains and right along the coast our suppliers and chefs work closely together to deliver the highest quality, local, seasonal produce.
Where did you train, and how has that shaped you as a chef?
I started in kitchens as a Kitchen Porter at fifteen and quickly gained a passion for freshly prepared local ingredients having been inspired by the senior chefs. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to work under some very talented local chefs. I then moved away and had the pleasure of working at Peacock Alley and The Metropolitan under Conrad Gallagher and Shanahan’s on the Green under Leo Small. It was during this time that I really gained an appreciation for the nuances of fine dining and to this day I try to emulate this when writing the menus. I’ve been lucky enough to open my own restaurant in my hometown so delivering high quality food using local produce is at the heart of every dish here at The Townhouse.
What are the three ingredients you couldn’t be without?
- Garlic, many of our staple dishes originate from Italy, France and Germany so it’s an integral part of our cooking.
- Celeriac – one of the most underrated ingredients, it’s so versatile and thankfully we are seeing it on more menus across the country.
- Beetroot – even as a child I used to eat it straight out of the jar! Again, I like it so much because of its versatility and I love the earthiness and depth of flavour it adds to any dish.
What is your favourite seafood?
Gyles Quay Lobster – I was lucky enough to go out on the boats one morning (very early morning mind you!) with the lads from Lobsters Direct and I was blown away by the whole experience. Since then, it features heavily on our specials menu and always goes down a treat with the customers.
What sea louth seafood dishes can be found on your menu?
We have become synonymous with fresh locally sourced seafood dishes. Along with Atlantic caught Mussels, Scallops, Fresh Cod, John Dory, Monkfish, Dover Sole & Black Sole all sourced from Johnny Morgans and Nicks Fish we have locally landed Lobster and king prawns from the co-op in Clogherhead that feature as:
* Wood Fired Sizzling Butterfly King Prawns, Garlic & Herb butter
* Gyles Quay Lobster Arancini, dill aioli
* Surf and Turf,
9oz fillet steak, seared scallops, butterfly tiger prawns, seafood bisque, Tuscan fries and seasonal greens
* Seafood Tagliatelle, Clogherhead king prawns, mussels, smoked salmon, cod, rich seafood bisque
* Clogherhead Prawn Tagliatelle Verde,
asparagus, lemon, petit pois, fresh chillies in a light white wine sauce
* Clogherhead King Prawns are also available with our Nasi Goreng, Malaysian Satay Curry, Korean Caesar Salad and Superfood Salad
I also take a stroll down to Colm in Johnny Morgan’s Fishmonger’s most mornings to see what’s come in off the boats, from here myself and the team create a set of specials showcasing the catch.
What is your favourite thing to do/place to go in Louth?
As any chef will tell you, days away from the kitchen are precious and few and far between so I try to make the most of my time off. Myself, my wife Sarah and son Ethan enjoy spending time at Gyles Quay and Greenore beaches. It’s just a stones throw away from my childhood home, so it’s lovely to play on the same beach with my son as I did with my father and a day spent by the sea is always good for the old head!
The Townhouse is open for lunch and dinner service, Tues-Sun.
The Townhouse is a restaurant participating in the sea louth scenic food trail – choose the local seafood special and keep your receipt, which counts as one of the two restaurant stamps needed to complete your passport!
Keywords: sea louth, scenic seafood trail, restaurants in louth, seafood in Louth, Irish seafood, Dundalk