Square Restaurant, Dundalk, Co. Louth

There’s something self-effacing about Conor Halpenny, the talented chef at the helm of Square Restaurant in Dundalk who bears an incredible pedigree, from stints at Michelin-starred Chapter One and Tankardstown’s fine dining Brabazon restaurant, as well as being crowned Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year 2017 at just 22 years old. His cookery naturally pivots on the fine side, but he’s humble to a fault and almost downplays his culinary genius, by siphoning all the praise and focus on his local suppliers. This is a chef who we’re not even sure knows how incredible he actually is.

It takes a talented and enterprising chef, in the littlest county in the country, to put a small neighbourhood bistro restaurant firmly on the map, be named among the 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland by food writing deities John & Sally McKenna in their annual Sunday Times Ireland round-up and to make a success of it –– especially given the gauntlet 2020 has thrown at hospitality. Conor is still upbeat, still grafting, still positive, still refining, still enterprising and still ambitious.

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