Myrtle reopens with new menu and al fresco dining

Words by
Charlotte McManus

10th September 2020

Located in the heart of Chelsea, this neighbourhood restaurant serves up elegant dishes with a distinctively Irish twist courtesy of Head Chef and owner Anna Haugh

From Darby's in Vauxhall to Daffodil Mulligan in Old Street, contemporary Irish-influenced restaurants have been popping up across the capital over the last year or so. Bringing Ireland's relatively little-known cuisine to new demographics while celebrating the country's undeniably excellent produce, these new openings combine well-crafted cuisine with a pleasingly laidback atmosphere - and, more importantly, they're often a lot of fun. 

One exceedingly worthy addition to this list is Myrtle, the first solo venture from Dublin chef Anna Haugh. Having worked for top culinary talents in London for 14 years - namely Philip Howard, Shane Osborne and one Gordon Ramsay - 2019 saw Haugh go it alone, opening the doors to her own space on Langton Street, Chelsea. It is named in fond tribute to the late Myrtle Allen, acclaimed chef and international pioneer of Irish food - she was also the first Irish woman to be awarded a Michelin star.

The decor is bright and welcoming with thoughtful touches - Haugh was in charge of the design, as our friendly FOH Daniel tells us (he's also Haugh's cousin) - from colour-pop panelling and pewter water goblets down to the embroidered "Myrtle" face marks worn by wait staff. Since the restaurant reopened in the summer, Covid-conscious measures have been implemented, reducing seats by half while introducing a new bijou "boulevard street dining" area.

The reopening also brought with it a new "Taste of Ireland" tasting menu, comprised of seven courses with the option to pair wines if desired (£140 all in). However, as we're pressed for time, my dining companion and I decide to pick and mix from the a la carte instead. 

Proceedings begin with fresh Carlingford oysters, each served with a sprinkling of lemon zest and dill on a bed of salt - these go down a treat with a glass or two of 2014 Sugrue sparkling wine. Then, with regret, we cut into the pretty little starter of chicken liver parfait piped into glossy cherry casings, complete with a brown paper bag of toasted potato bread.

Ah, the bread. As might be expected from an Irish-influenced menu, starchy carbs are an unashamed star of the show - no bad thing in my book, though keto followers may want to look away now. After the potato bread we tear into thick slabs of warm, stodgy soda bread slathered in butter before sampling cylinders of Clonakilty black pudding delicately wrapped in rings of fried potato. A hefty splodge of colcannon (mashed potato with greens) heroically shores up the oat-crusted hake and roasted beef fillet we order as mains, while "Anna's famous boxty dumpling", stuffed with yet more beef, is so substantial that it warrants its own cast-iron saucepan when placed on the table.

Mercy, mercy, we cry, taking a much-needed breather before dessert. The brown bread soufflé sounds its siren call - truly, there is no rest for the wicked - but we settle for the marginally lighter option of chocolate mousse made with carragen moss, ideal for two to share with small roundels of Guinness cake and the perfect complement to a strong coffee - Irish, of course.