Square restaurant, located on Magnet Road in Dundalk just off Market Square, has been named as one of the 100 Best Resturants in Ireland by The Sunday Times in their annual list published today, The McKennas Guide.
Square, run by chef Ardee man Conor Halpenny, opened its doors in the town on May 22 last year and has since established itself as one of the finest restaurants in the North East. Such has been its impact, it was named in today’s list in the Sunday Times, the only restaurant in Louth to make the list.
‘Conor Halpenny has many strings to his bow as a chef, not least the fact he once won the Euro-Toques young chef of the year award and has worked with talents such as Ross Lewis and Robbie Krawczyk,’ the entry writes.
‘But what you really need to know about this dynamic young cook is this: he cooks and serves his own cheese and onion crisps. See? There is a God. That’s not all he cooks, of course.
‘His riffs on modern classics such as roasted beets with goat’s curd, buttermilk chicken with romesco, and roast cauliflower with chickpeas, are utterly assured and winning. Square offers the sort of food and value that Dundalk needs — and it has lovely wines and nice, straightforward room.’
On social media today, Conor wrote he was “blown away to be included” and he paid tribute to”all of the team at Square Dundalk for all the hard work!”
In November 2017, Conor was named the Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year at Dublin’s Intercontinental Hotel, beating off hot competition from five other chefs from around the country to claim the prize, at the second prize of asking.
The then 22-year-old, who worked as a chef-de-partie at Chapter One Restaurant at the time was previously a finalist back in 2015, when he was working at Slane’s Brabazon restaurant, located at Tankardstown House.c
Conor, from Nicholastown and a former Ardee Community School pupil, spent time working locally in Dooleys as a youngster before he studied professional chef training at Crumlin College and worked at Tankardstown since March 2015 – working closely with Head Chef Rob Krawczyk. He has also spent time at two Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants – Downstairs in Clontarf, Dublin and The Courthouse in Carrick.
In 2016, Conor spent time working at the three Michelin star Royal Hospital Road restaurant in London.
Speaking to LouthNow.ie Editor-In-Chief Barry Landy after his win in November 2017, Conor said it was an ambition to open up a restaurant in Louth.
“There’s no place I’d want to set up my own place bar where I live. I love Ireland and I’m not moving. Ireland is my home, Louth is my home. I’m proud to be from Ardee. I’d love to open a restaurant in Ardee, or Drogheda, or Dundalk, wherever.
“I love Louth, we have great produce in Louth and the surrounding counties are great. Obviously, I’m in Dublin at the moment but I need to work in Michelin star restaurants. I’ll start as a head chef first.”