There is definitely an ‘art deco buzz’ about Temple Garner and Conor Kavanagh’s Monkstown offering Bresson. "The atmosphere in the place great," Conor said enthusiastically when describing the 66 seated restaurant which opened in January of this year.
Bresson predominantly caters for dates and smaller groups of friends, giving an intimate yet spacious feel to the premises. Named after photographer Henri Cartier Bresson, the restaurant serves French food that draws on classic cooking and old school charm and service.
The street on which the restaurant opened has also recently been completely redeveloped, where a steep tarmac footpath was levelled out, widened and replaced with sparkling white granite and plant beds, creating a beautiful and bright street, perfect for showing off the summer sunshine.
Temple feels that the location of Monkstown is perfect as it offers what the city centre cannot - "The city centre is very tight infrastructurally" in terms of space, he said. He revealed that they had turned down several smaller premises in central locations because of a lack of storage and space, saying that that "Less room to move can distract you from what you are supposed to do".
Bresson certainly has the measurements, with a separate entrance for deliveries, a cloakroom and, as Conor quipped, enough space to ensure customers "Aren’t having dinner with two strangers".
Both Temple and Conor feel that there were not any specific challenges to opening the restaurant earlier this year. "I wouldn’t say challenges other than the remit of opening a restaurant in itself," said Conor. "There are so many parts to something like this. There are literally hundreds of systems and elements that are involved. From what’s behind all of these walls to the flooring being perfectly level in order to put the tiles down. ... We just want to improve all the time."
In order to function and adapt both feel it is necessary to continuously make life as easy as possible. "Whether it’s a cocktail or making a sauce the straightest route to that is how to do it. You find people that aren’t that experienced, they don’t really understand that. It impedes them doing a great job," said Temple. For this to happen, they believe that people should invest in their businesses, but "Some owners won’t spend the money on that infrastructure because they don’t see the result is a happy customer".
Bresson features a strong wine list with over 120 bottles available, largely due to a lot of hard wok by Conor and their sommelier Phil. "It’s just leg work really. It’s a lot of time on phones. It’s a lot of tastings... such hard work," Conor joked. "If you don’t know wine very well we are very happy to talk you through the list and find you something that you will like within your price range that you will really enjoy," he continued.
Overall, Bresson wants customers to feel that the wine they are drinking exceeds the listed value. Temple also stated that the restaurant aims "To create a unique and special experience and to get the most out of it have a dessert wine. This is a treat – have that dessert wine."
In terms of the menu offerings, Temple is very concerned with the emotional connections people make with food, particularly his simple but brilliantly executed desserts, stating that he wanted to evoke that ‘glowing feeling’ in customers.
The classic French menu boasts dishes such as veal, scallops and crubeens, which Temple is reluctant to take credit for ("I’m not inventing any of this"). Their chicken is sourced from Carlow and vegetables from north Dublin, but as regards seafood in particular Temple said that he "Would consider anything in the sea around the island of Ireland as local". Temple also explained that he was very loyal to his suppliers and as a result many of his suppliers go ‘that extra mile’ for him when it comes to sourcing products.
Both Conor and Temple feel that the biggest issue challenging the industry at the moment is the securing of kitchen staff. Temple’s solution, however, to this is for the Government to ‘fast track work permits so they can go to places like Romania and recruit some of the talent out there," giving them a two year short term work permit, which in turn would relieve pressure for all staff, particularly those working in kitchens.
Many staff employed across the industry are working on a student visa, only allowing them 20 hours of work a week, which is quite restrictive for businesses, so in order to create jobs and revenue, both feel that this issue needs to be tackled. "Because there is a such a high demand, whether skilled or unskilled, chefs are asking for crazy money which is not sustainable," Conor explained. "We have a crew of great guys and we’ll look after them."
Bresson is open for dinner Tuesday to Sunday and lunch Thursday to Sunday. Reservations by phone: (01) 284 4286