Sika Restaurant, at the Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa, has long been known for its consistent, high quality food. The dramatic setting on the third floor plays its part - with floor to ceiling windows giving a clear view of the Sugar Loaf mountain. 2018 has seen the team recognised on a national stage, picking up Best Hotel Restaurant in Wicklow and Best Wine Experience in Wicklow at the Leinster finals of the Irish Restaurant Awards earlier in the year - and the hotel itself was named Ireland’s Leading Luxury Hotel 2017 in the World Travel Awards.
Head Chef Marek Sulg has worked internationally, training for four years in culinary school before ending up in a Michelin starred kitchen in Finland. A one way ticket to Ireland ("I decided to pack my bag with only chefs uniforms and knives," he said) and 18 years later, he now finds himself heading up the team at Sika, who he describes as "one big happy family".
Marek has created a new menu for the autumn season, carefully choosing ingredients from many of Ireland's leading producers and suppliers.
"We use Keeling’s for fruit and vegetables," said Marek. "For our meat and consumables we use multiple companies - Pallas, Redmond Fine Foods, Artisan Foods, Kish Fish. That's just a few to mention; everybody has a small part with us in some way."
Highlights on the new autumn menu include a game starter of Smoked Thornhill Duck by producer Kenneth Moffitt who has been rearing birds on his farm in Blacklion, Co. Cavan for the past 30 years. For mains, diners can look forward to Irish Hereford prime beef cuts; Silverhill duck with braised fennel, beluga lentils and rainbow beets; and vegetarian options such as pea risotto with purple broccoli florets, sorrel and chervil oil; and grilled halloumi tempura with red pepper carpaccio, aubergine caviar and baby kale.
"As we work with seasons, once you finish the summer menu or so, you are already working and gathering ideas for the next season coming," said Marek. "Let’s face it, it’s pretty fast going!"
With Christmas on the horizon, it's a crunch time for every restaurant and hospitality business across the country. It's when the much talked-about shortage of chefs becomes more acute than any other time of the year.
"We are lucky at the moment that we have some wonderful and hardworking people with us," said Marek, although he admits that there are "easier professions out there than being a chef".
For Marek and his team, a bit of fun helps them get through the festive period. There's always a mulled wine competition simmering away in their kitchen to see whose tastes better, and they work to twist up the usual Christmas menu items. "For example we have our Turkey flattened out, stuffed and rolled with very good quality ham. And the feedback has been amazing."
Sika’s Prix Fixe Menu is €55 per person for three courses, and is served from 6.00pm to 10.00pm nightly. Booking is recommended at powerscourthotel.com or on +353 1 274 8888.