Mr Richard Corrigan is sitting at a table in his new restaurant, Daffodil Mulligan, holding a half-drunk pint of Guinness (not his, mind; he sticks to “staff tea” while on the job) over a candle, peering carefully at its illuminated contents. “Look at it,” he says. “The ruby ember, just shining in there if you look at it through a light. You’ll see a little redness. That means the yeast is very low and the pipes are clean.” He is in the middle of proving the point, with a slight smirk on his face, that his bar serves the best pint of Guinness in London.
He may have a point. Daffodil Mulligan – which opened last month in Old Street, and is already receiving positive reviews from critics such as Ms Fay Maschler – is the result of what you might call the restaurant world’s equivalent of a three-man Irish supergroup. There is, obviously, the County Meath-born Mr Corrigan, one of the best-known Irish chefs and the owner of Mayfair institution Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill and his eponymous restaurant Corrigan’s. There is also Mr John Nugent, founder of hospitality firm Green & Fortune. And then there is Mr Tony Gibney, owner of the famous Gibney’s pub in Malahide and a man for whom beer and stout are a very serious business indeed.
“There are people in central London saying they have a great pint and I appreciate them,” says Mr Corrigan, aiming a jovial shot at Mr Oisin Rogers of The Guinea Grill, who he fears might “take a chainsaw” to him for making such a claim. “But with Gibney and Gibney’s connections, we have the best Guinness. I do believe the pint here is a very happy pint.” So stubborn was Mr Gibney about all matters stout, that he delayed the opening of Daffodil Mulligan for three weeks until the conditions were satisfactory. “We have installed the original Guinness pipes,” says Mr Corrigan. The secret is not just the cleanliness, but the width. “We’re the only people in Britain with them. Allegedly.”