Tallaght Cross Hotel brings in business with help of head chef Eric

By Maurice Garvey 

THE hospitality business has taken a battering, but despite the incredible challenges posed by Covid restrictions, Tallaght Cross Hotel is open for business and has a menu that is attracting local customers.

With tourism decimated, it is the food offerings at the hotel that is keeping business ticking over.

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Eric Osbourne, Head Chef The Plaza Hotel and Tallaght Cross Hotel

Visitors can enjoy breakfast, brunch (10am-12 noon), lunch and dinner, seven days a week.

Also on the daily menu, is the relatively new concept in Dublin 24 of ‘afternoon tea’, which is booming, according to Eric Osbourne, Head Chef The Plaza Hotel and Tallaght Cross Hotel.

“I launched it first in the Plaza (currently closed and undergoing an extensive renovation) in August 2019, but I didn’t think it would be so popular in Tallaght,” said Osbourne (33).

“It took off and got stronger and stronger. I introduced it to Tallaght Cross a month ago. Our numbers are increasing each day. It is essential to pre-book the afternoon tea.”

Osbourne’s description of the many mouth-watering dishes indicate a man with a love of cooking built up over close to 20 year’s experience in the industry.

The Ballyfermot native first started working in the Kylemore Café on O’Connell Street, at the tender age of 15, under his aunt Maria Price who was a manager there.

He moved to the Tree Top restaurant in Clondalkin village, working his way up to Head Chef at the age of 24.

In 2018, Osbourne’s culinary skills led him to the 5-star Druids Glen Hotel in Wicklow, where he worked under Executive Chef Anthony Duggan.

“I was asked if I’d take the Chef Cuisine job and after a year we won a Rosette award for the Garden Rooms, which was a major achievement. It was the only bar in Ireland that won a Rosette.”

In July 2019, his career path led him to Tallaght Cross and the Plaza Hotel, which is owned by TMR Hotel Collection.

“I was asked to be Head Chef at two 4-star hotels, and the Plaza is getting a massive renovation with a more upscale dining experience and high-end bar, so that was a big motivation,” said Osbourne.

A common perception of chefs is that they can be temperamental, but Osbourne strives to do things differently and nurture talent, in what is a demanding job.

“The days of shouting abuse and throwing pots are gone,” he acknowledges.

“In the kitchen I expect high standards. If you don’t have standards you don’t have anything. That was one of the main things I needed to change when I got here. But we do provide training and don’t expect miracles.

“It is a challenge to find motivated staff, but I am lucky that the staff I brought in are passionate about what they do. The usual pitfalls are unsociable hours. I try to give staff two days off together, give them weekends. I’ve been there, working 70 hours a week. I want them to want to be a chef. Using seasonal ingredients is important because it brings more character and passion out of the chefs.”

A lot of the kitchen products are made in-house but they also have suppliers and vegetarians will be happy to know they use a vegan supplier – the menu includes vegan cheesecake.

Tallaght Cross only just opened in February when Covid closed the 186-bed hotel. Now reopened, but on a reduced scale with less staff, the hope is that business can return to normal in the near future.

“We were only open a couple of weeks in February, doing well but didn’t get to build that momentum,” said Osbourne.

“We are only starting to see that now. All the reviews online have been great. We have a wonderful local trade and getting some corporate business in too, so we must be doing something good.”

Restaurant bookings with Covid19 guidelines: Tallaght Cross would prefer guests to pre-book, purely so they can have their table allocated and prepared, but during the day, guests can walk in.

If a table is available when guests walk in, they can be seated, and as part of Covid-19 guidelines, their name and contact number are taken for contract tracing.

Current Covid-19 regulations mean no moving from table to table and customers have their table for 110 minutes.

After approximately 1.45 hours, they will be asked to vacate the table, that table is then sanitised and left for 15 mins before another guest can be seated at it.

“Sanitising stations and directions are clearly marked out and we do ask all our guests to adhere to the regulations, for everyone’s sake,” said Majella Kernan-Finlay, Cluster Sales & Marketing Manager, The Plaza Hotel & Tallaght Cross Hotel.

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