Thornton’s in St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, is awarded the “Jameson Restaurant of the Year” on October 23, 2002. It is among the national award winners announced to coincide with the launch of Georgina Campbell’s Jameson Guide: Ireland 2003.
Originally located on Portobello Road since 1989, Thornton’s is opened in the Fitzwilliam Hotel on St. Stephen’s Green in 2002. A fine dining restaurant, it holds a one-star Michelin rating in the periods 1996-2000 and 2006-2015. In the period 2001-2005 it holds a two-star rating.
Head chef Kevin Thornton is the first Irish chef to achieve two Michelin stars and is named Food & Wine Magazine’s Chef of the Year for Ireland in 2007. Patrick Guilbaud receives his second star first but is born in France.
Thornton’s is embroiled in a controversy in 2007 surrounding Kevin Thornton’s alleged refusal to sell chips to his restaurant customers, sparking comparisons to British chef Gordon Ramsay. A customer requests the food but, upon receiving it, he changes his mind and sends them back to the kitchen. Thornton then allegedly emerges from the kitchen with the chips and slams them down on the man’s table, with the remark, “They were cooked specially for you, so you eat them, you dickhead.” He later is alleged to have called them “wankers” before removing them from his restaurant.
Asked about the incident by broadcaster Joe Duffy on his RTÉ Radio 1 Liveline programme, Thornton stresses that he had not so much been infuriated by the request of chips, as he supposedly provides them for younger customers on a regular basis, but that he had been aggravated by the attitude of this particular customer. The incident has since seen Thornton become associated with a dislike of chips and, as recently as 2009, has been crafted as a pun by the Irish media for any other outlet which does not serve the food. Thornton has also spoken out against serving food such as pizza in his restaurant.
Thornton’s permanently closes its doors on October 29, 2016. According to the Thontons the closure is due to the loss of the restaurant’s only Michelin star, which reduced the influx of international tourists, and high rent prices.
(Pictured: Kevin and Muriel Thornton, who win Jameson Restaurant of the Year 2003, with Chief Executive Officer of Irish Distillers Philippe Savinel)