As if Michael's in Mount Merrion needs any more reasons for the phone to ring off the hook. Between the three Irish Restaurant Awards they won in May (Best Newcomer, Best Kids Size Me and Best Manager), their stellar Irish Times review a few weeks ago, and another two gongs last Sunday at the Food and Wine Awards (Local of the Year and Host of the Year), it's safe to say there won't have to worry about empty seats between now and Christmas - not that that's stopping chef Gaz Smith from bringing back Kids' Seafood September, which was such a big success last year.
For the whole month of September, kids can eat fish for free in Michael's when an adult is eating, and it's a proper menu, none of this fish fingers and chips cheating - they can have calamari and chips though. Other options include mussels in a lemon and garlic cream, prawns in garlic butter with broccoli, and linguine with mussels, cockles, prawns and squid. They can also have a 1/2 portion of any adult main course, and tackle their own Dublin Bay Prawn. All for free. And if they finish their dinner they get ice cream - also free.
Seafood September started last year after Gaz, who's become one of the country's most vocal champions of Irish seafood since taking over Michael's just over a year ago, found that children in the restaurant were saying no to fish a lot, and their parents weren't encouraging them to order it in case it was left on the plate - easier to choose something they know they'll eat. So he started visiting the tables, encouraging them to try the fish, and offering to replace it if they didn't like it. He says 9 times out of 10 they loved it, so decided to make it a bigger thing. One of Michael's suppliers, Kish Fish, also partnered with them on the initiative to help with the cost of the fish.
This is the second year of Seafood September and other restaurants have now jumped on board, including L. Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter, Gallagher's Boxty House in Temple Bar and The Gables in Foxrock who are both offering the same deal as Michael's - kids eat fish for free when adults are eating, and restaurants in other parts of the country are running similar initiatives (there's a good list here). They're hoping they might be able to get a state body involved next year and expand it further across the city and country. Now your only problem is going to be beating off the Mount Merrion locals for a reservation.