Located in an old warehouse in the centre of town, Rob O’Reilly and Barry McBride’s funky restaurant opened with no name but it’s become known as ‘Pay As You Please’ thanks to the novel system of payment – ie inviting diners ‘to pay what you think the food is worth’.
While not a new idea, this is the first time it has been tried in Ireland, except perhaps very short term in pop up restaurants. Like plenty of ideas that ‘couldn’t work’, it has been surprisingly successful and, far from slipping away into the crowd without paying, most customers seem to enjoy the experience and estimate a fair amount of cash to leave.
Very much in tune with the times, the tone is rustic chic or just plain funky, with very basic unmatched furniture (some would say junk), including old school desks among the tables. Old films (silent, or without the sound) are sometimes projected onto a white painted wall, and the enthusiastic young staff are pretty funky too.
The short price-free menu might offer soup (serving it in a hollowed-out bread loaf seems the right thing to do here), bruschetta, salads and pizza.
Rob O’Reilly (the man with the hat) is front of house and, although the menu is limited, what comes out of Barry McBride’s kitchen is good; it does no harm having a Ballymaloe Cookery School graduate cooking in an operation like this, and the fact that it attracts all ages and types of client - old and young, local and tourist - is a testament to the foundation of quality that lies beneath the novelty.
It has a relaxed feel to it, and everybody loves it. No receipts, of course, and no wines either – but you’re free to bring your own.