1 Michelin Star Chefs: Paul McDonald, chef owner, Bastion

The Staff Canteen

Paul McDonald is the chef owner of Bastion in KinSALE, Ireland.

The chef and his wife Helen Noonan opened the wine bar cum bistro on the corner of Market and Mains street in 2015. It was awarded a Bib Gourmand in 2016, becoming the first in the city to get a Michelin star in the 2020 guide.  



Junction of Market St & Main St, Kinsale, Cork, Ireland

Telephone: +353 21 470 9696

Website and reservations: http://www.bastionkinsale.com/

Opening hours:

Wednesday-Sunday: 5-11pm

Monday-Tuesday: Closed

Twitter: @BastionKinsale

Instagram: @bastion_kinsale

Facebook: @BastionKinsale

Career path

Scottish-born Paul McDonald started working in kitchens when he was 14, potwashing at a restaurant  in Glasgow called Havana. 

His apprenticeship programme with MI Tech secured him a diploma in a record eleven months, and from there the chef moved to a restaurant called Rococo, where he stayed until he was 18. 

Paul moved to Dublin and was hired to work at The Clarens Hotel (famously owned by U2 lead singer Bono) under chef Anthony Eli.

Then, he was named sous-chef at Bleu, owned by Eamonn O'Reilly - now owner of two Michelin-starred The Greenhouse in Dublin, which has chef Mickael Viljanen at the helm.

Paul was quickly promoted to head chef when his predecessor disappeared without a trace. 

Two years later, Paul moved to London to work at Tom Aikens' No 43 at Elephant Street, where he met Aiden Byrne.

When Aiden announced that had been offered the head chef position at Danesfield House with Russell Bateman as his sous, he asked the young chef to join him - which he did with little hesitation. 

A year later, Paul went back to Dublin to work for Kevin Thornton at then one Michelin-starred Thornton's, before taking on the head chef position at Adare Manor, where he met his wife Helen. 

In 2010, the couple took over the now Michelin-starred The Mews in Baltimore.

Then, after a year in Australia, the chef worked at The Westbury, followed by the G Hotel in Galway, where he oversaw the whole food operation. 

However, the 100 hour weeks took their toll on his relationship, so the chef took Helen on what he called a 'save the relationship tour' - intending to go from Galway to Kinsale, followed by stops in Baltimore, Killarney and Limerick before going back to Galway - which was cut short when the couple came across the premises that would later become Bastion.

What the guides say





The Kinsale neighbourhood has long been a seafood destination, but, with the addition of restaurants like Bastion, is fast becoming a go-to for the city's food lovers.

The bar area, where guests are invited to wait before being seated, is partitioned off from the main restaurant area. Originally seating 50 people, as the menu became more complex, the couple decided to reduce the number of seats in the restaurant to 36. 

A love for Irish produce transpires throughout the eight-course tasting menu, from the Guinness sourdough with treacle butter to foie gras with poached rhubarb, mustard leaf and brioche croutons.

It is playful, too, with dishes like mackerel with gin and tonic foam, for instance, or fillet steak, jam and doughnuts with sage and Dijon dauphine, balsamic onions, velvet cauliflower and sprout cups. 

The guide singles out the three following dishes: pea mousse and soup with lemon, mint and basil; lamb cannon with aubergine and wild garlic, and finally, caramelised milk with chocolate & mandarin crumble and milk & honey sorbet. 

Despite its success, critic reviews of Bastion are few and far between. New York Times travel writer Brendan Spiegel, however, called the restaurant an "inventive spot" offering "delectable dinner." 

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 18th January 2021

1 Michelin Star Chefs: Paul McDonald, chef owner, Bastion