Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Tribute to my grandmother (and Bramley apples)

About a month ago, an invitation was issued to members of the Irish Food Bloggers assocation to enjoy a tour of the Bramley apple orchards, located at St. Margaret's, Dublin (courtesy of Keelings). The mere suggestion of Bramley cooking apples sucked me into a time vortex (thankfully sans swirly lights and music) back to my childhood and to the time when I received my first introduction to cooking.

My educator was my maternal grandmother, known to me as Ma. She lived about 2 miles from us, on her own in a farmhouse that had never really been modernised. Her sole cooking devices were an open fireplace and an old enamelled gas cooker, which lurked in the back kitchen, clearly playing second fiddle to the fireplace. 

When it came to cooking meat and two veg, Ma definitely came from the old-school style of cooking. This could also be more accurately described as the "lash it all into the one pot and boil until grey" style of cooking. I used to be entranced by the fact that she would boil whole onions, which would be served translucent on the plate alongside the poatoes and meat du jour. My fascination however, never extended to actually eating one.

Ma was a serial visiter of funerals and upon receipt of the daily edition of The Cork Examiner, she'd turn straightaway to the Deaths section and mark out her travel itinerary for the next few days. She would then use her pensioners' allowance from Telecom Eireann to deliver the driving orders to my mother. Once I gained my first provisional licence, she quickly realised that she now had two drivers at her disposal. And thus it was that I spent many days driving up narrow winding country backroads in West Cork and Kerry, delivering my grandmother to removals, rosaries and wakes. One of the major (but mainly useless) benefits of this was an in-depth knowledge of church and funeral home locations.  I also developed an unnatural ability to predict when I would next encounter a single sheep in the middle of the road.

Sheep detection skills aside, the key benefit of accompanying my death-obsessed grandmother was the fine food presented in the parlours and front rooms. Victoria sponges with fresh cream and home-made jam, snowy white with icing sugar. Fresh warm scones, served with more lashings of the same home-made jam. (I should point out that the foodie word "preserves" would have never been uttered, it was always simply "jam"). And there was always an apple tart. A home-made tart, in the shallow country-style, with golden encrusted seams where the juices had escaped during baking. 

I was convinced that my Ma made the finest tart of them all. She would never have held with the modern styles of deep dishes or the addition of cinnamon or other spices. She knew just one way to make an apple tart, but by God, it was a good way. First out would be the mixing bowl with flour, measured by china cup, along with butter, egg & milk. Pastry made, it was used to line the enamel dish, into which she would then layer sliced "cookers", or Bramley apples, a sprinkle of sugar and then the pastry lid. A quick coating of milk and into the oven. Her pastry never rose, and her style was quick and rough, but some magical alchemy happened in that oven. What emerged was heavenly, a transubstantiation, if you will, of the coarse, tart Bramleys into a sweet, fragrant dish.

The shallow old-fashioned apple tart, made with Bramleys will forever remind me of my grandmother. There is nothing else that transports me so quickly back to her kitchen, with its open turf fire and wooden settle. I still sometimes make this style of apple tart when I'm at my parents' house, and best of all, my mother still has the old enamel dish my grandmother used to use. Some things just can't be beaten.

Written in loving memory of Margaret Scriven.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A recent weekend in Cork

Let me take you on a whirlwind tour of Cork and some of the fine eating & drinking I enjoyed there recently. As well as all the treats listed below, we also visited the Fish Wife chipper on MacCurtain Street and Market Lane restaurant on Oliver Plunkett Street. Separate blog posts will follow for those locations.

After checking in at the Gresham Metropole hotel on MacCurtain Street, we headed out for some drinks. We wanted to enjoy some craft beers, so we headed to the Bierhaus on Pope's Quay. As well as serving a great selection of beers, it's also possible to enjoy a pizza at your table, courtesy of neighbouring pizzeria Uncle Pete's. On a previous visit, the smell of warm fresh pizza and basil had permeated the bar, leaving me salivating. On this visit, I was able to resist until the walk home, when I conceded defeat to a slice of margherita pizza for a mere €2.

Stitch and Bear - Howling Gale Ale at the Bierhaus Cork
The tasty Howling Gale Ale (from Eight Degrees Brewing) at the Bierhaus
I must give a shout out to the great Mitchelstown-based Eight Degrees Brewing. I've become quite partial to their beers, particularly the Sunburnt Irish Red. Unfortunately, it wasn't available in the Bierhaus that night, but I quite happily made do with the Howling Gale Ale.

Stitch and Bear - Breakfast bap at Idaho Cafe Cork
A breakfast bap from Cafe Idaho
The problem with beers is that they tend to have an impact the next day, which often takes the form of a craving for fried food. Thus it was that we found ourselves enjoying a breakfast bap in Idaho Cafe, tucked away behind Brown Thomas on Caroline Street. This small location, which can be a tight squeeze at times, offers coffee, pastries, cakes and light food throughout the day. It's a very nice spot to stop and relax while in town.

Stitch and Bear - Cafe con leche with chocolate chips at O'Conaill's Chocolate shop Cork
Cafe con leche with chocolate chips at O'Conaill's Chocolate Shop
Later in the day, I needed more coffee, so I called into O'Conaill's chocolate shop on French Church Street. Although the interior has changed since I last visited (and not in a way that I like), the coffee is still good and a little paper cups of chocolate chips (milk, dark and white) bought some sweetness to my afternoon. These tasty chocolate chips can be purchased as part of a hot chocolate making kit for your enjoyment at home.

Stitch and Bear - Shandon Century stout from the Franciscan Well Brewery Cork
Shandon Century Stout from the Francisan Well Brewery
I made one final stop on my walking tour of Cork by calling to Bradley's of North Main Street. My grandmother used to call regularly to this great value grocery, but given that she was a Pioneer, I don't think she had much interest in their range of wines and beers. The back of this shop is a true shrine to the brewer's art. Many craft beers are on offer in a 4 for €10 deal but they also stock some Cork treasures including the delectable Stonewell cider from Nohoval and the limited edition series of beers from the Francisan Well Brewery on the North Mall. 

I opened the bottle of Stonewell cider as soon as I got back to Dublin. When I was finished, my only regret was that I hadn't bought more bottles. It features a mix of 3 different types of cider apple juice which is blended with fresh juice at the time of bottling. Right now, it's only available in Munster due to limited quanities, but I've been promised that much more will be available in 2012.

Himself and his brother cracked open the numbered special edition bottle of Shandon Century Extra Stout. It's pretty strong for a stout at 7.5%, but was easy drinking with a lovely caramel flavour and dark malts. I've heard from the knowledgeable Michael (of Bradley's fame) that the stout is now all sold out, but he has also reassure ment that there will be more special edition beers from the Well.

Locations visited & Goodies tasted

The Bierhaus, Pope's Quay, Cork.
Tel: +353 (0)21 455 1648
Twitter: @BierhausCork

Uncle Pete's, 31 Pope's Quay, Cork.
Tel: +353 (0)21 455 5888

Idaho Cafe, Caroline Street, Cork
Tel: +353 (0)21 427 6376

O'Conaill's Chocolate Shop, French Church Street, Cork.

Bradley's 81-82 North Main Street, Cork
Tel: +353 (0)21 427 0845
Twitter: @bradleys_offlic

Franciscan Well Brewery, North Mall, Cork.
Tel: +353 (0)21 421 0130

Stonewell Cider, Nohoval, Belgooley, Kinsale, Co. Cork
Tel: +353 (0)21 234 8878
Twitter: @StonewellCider

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Fish Wife, MacCurtain Street, Cork

When in Cork, I pretty much always stay at the Gresham Metropole. It's has free wi-fi throughout, clean white bed linen and is very centrally located. Best of all, prices can be quite keen and I love the old style and corridors. As far as I'm concerned, it's a far better offering than some of the newer, more expensive hotels in the city.

Ever since I've moved to Dublin, I've missed Cork chips. Dublin chips are good, but they're a different style and sometimes only chips from Lennox's or Bartie's will fill the void. The fact that the Fish Wife chip shop is located just across the road from the Metropole is just another plus for this hotel. 

The Fish Wife is a relatively new addition to the Cork chipper scene, but it manages to bring a modern twist to this traditional food style. Alongside the old favourite of cod, you can find daily specials, which range from tiger prawns in filo pastry to fresh battered seabass. Even the packaging is novel. Instead of the traditional newspaper, the fish and chips come in a clever cardboard box, which makes a handy plate when opened out.

The daily specials at the Fish Wife, Cork
Chip portions are more than generous and they even carry a personal favourite of mine, the mushy pea fritter. The Fish Wife also sells a range of burgers, which I've been told are good, although I've yet to try them myself. Every time I've eaten at the Fish Wife I've found the batter to be very light and crispy, and a recent piece of seabass showed how any piece of fish can be battered. In a city where chippers are taken very seriously, the Fish Wife is definitely one of the best.

Fresh battered seabass with mushy pea fritter, chips and sauces from the Fish Wife

The Fish Wife, 45a MacCurtain Street, Cork
Tel: +353 (0)87 264 4266
URL: Facebook page

Market Lane, Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork

On a recent weekend trip to my hometown of Cork, we found ourselves looking for somewhere different to dine. There seemed to be one main contender, the Market Lane restaurant which had received several good recent print mentions along with Twitter recommendations. I attempted to make a booking for a Saturday night, but once I navigated the irritating automated answering service, I learned that they do not take bookings for smaller groups.

In order to ensure that we got a table without any hassle, we arrived around 6.00pm, entering through thick red velvet curtains. Even at this early stage, the restaurant was very busy, but we were led upstairs and seated in one of the few remaining free tables. Placemats double up as menus and there were plenty of options from which to choose. In fact, I'd go so far as to say there was too much choice. I'd have preferred to see a smaller list of well-chosen options.
Country pork pate with chutney, toast & crackers
Staff were emerging at machine gun pace from the kitchen bearing plates of food and our starters arrived quite quickly. My generous portion of country pork liver and date pate with crackers, toast and chutney (€7.70) was reasonable, although somewhat grainy. The plate featured an unnecesary pile of sad looking wilted lettuce leaves which I left uneaten. I'd love to know how much money restaurants waste on plate garnishes that are returned to the kitchen.

Sweet potato with Crozier blue cheese, spinach & dates
Himself received sweet potato with Crozier blue cheese, spinach, dates and roasted pine nut oil (€7.20). When ordering this dish, we had to ask what it actually was, as the menu only lists the ingredients. Was it perhaps a tart or maybe a salad? It turned out to be a melt of blue cheese, spinach and dates, topped with crispy sweet potato strings and the unusual combination of salty and sweet ingredients worked really well.

Spinach and ricotta ravioli with wild mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes
When ordering, I had felt a craving for pasta. For your information, I generally don't order pasta in mixed-menu restaurants as it's usually overcooked, stodgy and coated in bad sauce. I should have followed my instinct in Market Lane. My main of spinach and ricotta ravioli with wild mushrooms, semi-sundried tomatoes, cream and parmesan (€13.95) was served compressed into brick-like solidity. The presence of meaty mushrooms and tangy tomatoes meant that the sauce was pretty good, but the stodgy ravioli just didn't do it for me.

Pork Wellington with Jack McCarthy black pudding
We had both been tempted by the Pork Wellington in flaky pastry with Jack McCarthy black pudding, fondant potato and carrot puree (€17.95) and it didn't disappoint. Lovely light flaky pastry with just-cooked pork and a lovely layer of spicy black pudding. This surely is a signature dish for Market Lane and I love the incorporation of McCarthy's excellent local pudding.

A glass of Southern Light Sauvignon Blanc and a bottle of Paulaner beer bought the total bill to a very reasonable €58.80. Market Lane is clearly a popular venue with a high table turnover on the night we visited. The pork Wellington was a particularly good dish, but I feel that Market Lane suffers from its popularity. There are too many choices on the menu, which gives a feeling that the restaurant is trying to be all things to all people. I'd much rather see a pared down menu, keeping the best dishes and losing the noise.  
Market Lane, 5-6 Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork
Tel: +353 (0)21 427 4710
Twitter: @market_lane

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Il Primo, Montague Street, Dublin 2

I have a slight addiction to Masterchef. I watch it in all its variants, although I must admit that I'm not that partial to Masterchef Australia. Perhaps it's a bit too relaxed for me, which is probably the reason I adore the more high octance Bristish Professional version. In order to cook for Michel Roux Jr, the contestants must first pass the gauntlet ferociously guarded by sous-chef Monica Galetti. The withering looks from this woman are a joy to behold as the contestants inevitably fail to live up to her high standards. The standard is high, very high.

Therefore, it was with interest I watched the Irish Masterchef series. Dylan McGrath (from Rustic Stone) shone as our home-grown culinary superstar chef, and eventually the lovely Mary Carney was crowned the first Irish Masterchef. Mary's cooking in the final was superb (and looks like it was partially inspired by her stint at the great Chapter One), but my lingering memory of the entire series was the line "A hake died for no reason today". This putdown on a contestant's cooking was was delivered by Anita Thoma, head chef at Il Primo.

Her appearance on television reminded me that I had been passing by Il Primo for many years. The hand-written menu on the front window had often caught my attention, along with some tempting lunch time prices, but for some inexplicable reason I had never visited. One quick Twitter lunchtime booking and everything was put right. On arrival, we were warmly greeted and given two small flutes of prosecco to relax with while we read the menu and daily specials.

Stitch and Bear - Veal salad at Il Primo
Veal salad at Il Primo
Stitch and Bear - Grilled vegetable and goat's cheese salad at Il Primo
Salad with warm grilled vegetables and goats' cheese
We both decided to go for salads for starters - veal salad for him while I had warm grilled vegetables with goat's cheese. In my case, asparagus, courgettes and sweet grilled peppers mixed wonderfully with the tangy goats' cheese and the emulsified balsamic dressing. His salad of cooked veal slices and richly coloured leaves was equally substantial and well-dressed.

Stitch and Bear - Crab and leek lasagne at Il Primo
Crab and leek lasagne
Stitch and Bear - Pappardelle with sausage at Il Primo
Papardelle with sausage
Crab & leek lasagne sounded so intriguing that I had to order it for my main course. It featured dense layers of homemade lasagne sheets, sweet chunky flakes of crab meat and gently cooked leeks. A creamy tomato sauce bought it all together beautifully. Our server told us that it was one of the few dishes to constantly remain on the menu during the 20 years that Il Primo has been open, and it's easy to see why.

For himeself, ribbons of pappardelle with sausage was a winter warmer dish. The smoky meaty rich tomato sauce had beautifully coated the pappardelle, and a quick scattering of freshly grated parmesan was all that was required. This really was rustic, hearty Italian cooking done simply and done well.

The lunch menu offers 1 course for €13, 2 courses for €16 or best of all, 3 courses for €19. We might have stopped after two courses, but the daily menu featured chocolate cake with vanilla cream. The cake turned out to be moist and rich with a fudgy centre, but still have a light texture. A food contradiction! Two delicious espressos went fantastically well with the cake.

Stitch and Bear - Chocolate cake with vanilla cream at Il Primo
Chocolate cake with vanilla cream
My one regret about our lunchtime visit to Il Primo was that we hadn't visited earlier. The very generous portions meant that I spend the rest of the afternoon struggling not to fall asleep while a total of €38 represented great value for a lunch of this quality. Service was perfect throughout the meal, and the cosy nature of the interior means that it would also be perfect for a romantic and sophisticated evening meal.

Il Primo, 16 Montague Street, Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1 293 3804
Twitter: @IlPrimo1

Il Primo on Urbanspoon


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Indie Spice, Sandymount, Dublin 4

With four locations in Ireland, Indie Spice is a well-established group of restaurants. The first was founded in Belfast over 20 years ago and expanded with newer venues in Swords and Naas. The latest addition to the chain is to be found in the genteel and sophisticated neighbourhood of Sandymount. 

Located upstairs, the interior is modern and extremely stylish. It's so nice to sit in a restaurant with vibrant colours and design. Red lattice lampshades and jewel tones are balanced nicely by dark furniture, while an open kitchen pass allows diners to view the chefs at work in the kitchen. Personally, I like this kind of decor as I find it a refreshing change from the curry-house interior that persists in many, older restaurants.

Stitch and Bear - The sleek interior of Indie Spice Sandymount
The modern interior at Indie Spice
The menu comes as a fancy, printed brochure, while paper place mats feature recipes to try at home. Traditional, well-known dishes mingle alongside some lesser known dishes, including one of my favourites, the achari pickle curry. For starters, himself chose the fearsome sounding Piri Piri Prawns (€10.95) while I went for a favourite with the vegetarian Achari Paneer (€7.95). 

The prawns came with scallops and pretty dots of different coloured sauces, providing a very meaty starter but the promised 2 chili rating didn't really materialise. This was probably due to the fact that despite being large and plump, the seafood was rather bland and watery. My paneer starter featured the same set of polka dot sauces, but needed lemon juice (stolen from his starter) to really zing.

Stitch and Bear - Piri Piri prawns and scallops at Indie Spice Sandymount
Piri Piri Prawns & Scallops
Stitch and Bear - Achari paneer starter at Indie Spice Sandymount
Achari Paneer
I was feeling in the mood for something mild, so I had chosen Malai Chingri (€21.95), which promised jumbo prawns cooked in coconut milk and sweet spices. It turned out to be deliciously sweet and creamy with plenty of chewy coconut flakes.  Himself has a big love of seafood curries so he opted for Malabar monkfish curry (€23.95), which featured dense monkfish chunks in a rich sauce fragrant with fresh curry leaves. However, both dishes were let down by the quality of the seafood itself, which, like the earlier starter, was bland and watery.

Stitch and Bear - Seafood curries for mains at Indie Spice Sandymount
Malabar Monkfish curry & Malai Chingri
Like a lot of Indian restaurants, rice and sundries are extra, which is a bit much considering the price of the main courses. When a restaurant charges €20+ for a main, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect rice to be included. We added a light, fluffy garlic naan to our meal for €2.95.  Our meal  was settled with a Living Social voucher (2 starters, 2 mains and 2 glasses of wine for €39), which saved us over €35, based on printed menu prices.

To be honest, I'd really have my doubts about paying full a la carte prices. Although I did enjoy my meal, it wasn't a stand out Indian experience in the way that you can justifiably expect in venues such as Jaipur or Ananda. It's good, decent Indian food that shouldn't carry a big price tag. Thankfully, Indie Spice offer some great value set menus for lunch and dinner (which can be found on their website here) including a 2 course lunch for €8.95 and a 3 course Sunday lunch for €16.95.

Indie Spice, 23-24  Sandymount Green, Dublin 4
Tel: +353 (0)1 232 0220
Twitter: @indie_spice


Beer & Food Tasting from Heineken

I recently received a PR invite to attend a beer and food tasting event, organised by Heineken Ireland. As a large corporation, Heineken own many international beer brands (think Birra Moretti, Paulaner and Tiger). The growing interest in craft beers as well as food & beer pairings has not escaped their attention, and now they are offering diners the chance to attend some dining events in Dublin and Cork.

The venues have been well chosen with Ely Bar and Brasserie, Siam Thai and Roly’s Bistro in Dublin and The Cornstore in Cork all taking part. At each event a beer and food expert will be present to guide the diners through the tasting of beers from around the world and how they match with the food on a specially designed menu.

Many of us put thought into the wines we enjoy with our food, so why not apply the same logic to beers? Hopefully these events will offer some ideas to people unfamiliar with the pairing of food and beer, or else inspire new thoughts in beer lovers. Simply call the numbers listed below to book a place.

Roly’s Bistro, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Dublin Tapas style menu with beer tasting for €29.95
Monday 7th November at 7.30pm – 01 6682611

Siam Thai, Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin
Two course set menu for €27.50
Tuesday 8th November at 7.30pm – 01 2964500

The Cornstore, Cornmarket Street, Cork
Three course set menu with beer tasting for €24.95
Tuesday 8th November at 7.30pm – 021 4274777

Ely Bar & Brasserie, IFSC, Dublin
Two course set menu with beer tasting for €24.95
Wednesday 9th November at 6.00pm – 01 6720010

Saturday, November 5, 2011

161 Cafe & Bistro, Rathmines, Dublin 6

I live in a beautiful area of Dublin. It's that bizarre part of Dublin where Rathmines begins to disappear but you haven't quite made it to Ranelagh, Rathgar or Milltown. Us residents, as well a significant amount of Trinity students, call it Dartry... 

We are lucky to have a small stretch on the Upper Rathmines Road which is home to some fine food shops. Field & Vine is a superb little grocer, selling a great range of organic products as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. Lawlor's butcher provides high quality fresh meat and fish, as does Connolly's seafood, while Fothergills is a fine deli. Bizarrely, this little shopping enclave has been without a cafe or restaurant since the closure of Wild  Lily's Cafe some years ago.

The arrival of the very stylish 161 Cafe & Bistro has thankfully rectified this gap. A simple facade in gray and blue hints at the sleek interior, which is decorated in light blue, with whitewashed floors, white bench seating and plenty of scattered cushions. Since it opened earlier in the year, it has established itself as a popular family-friendly spot with the locals, who pack it out for brunch on weekend mornings.

The charming interior at 161 Cafe & Bistro
We visited recently for a fortifying Saturday brunch before heading to the Honest2Goodness market in Glasnevin. Just about all the tables were occupied, with families featuring strongly, but we were able to snag a small two person table. The Brunch menu lists all the usual dishes, but I was intrigued by the description of the 161 Vegetarian Brunch which contains corn fritter stacks with avocado & portobello mushroom, grilled tomato and baked beans (€9.50). I received a carefully constructed tower , while homemade baked beans came in a little rammekin dish with freshly toasted sourdough bread on the side. I found the beans to be sharp and even uncooked in places, but the corn fritters were excellent, and a great alternative to the traditional meaty breakfast.

Vegetarian brunch at 161 Cafe & Bistro
Himself went for Steak and Eggs, which features a 6oz sirloin steak with fried egg and sauteed potatoes (€10.00). Simple and straightforward, this dish delivered the required morning after sustenance with the sauteed potatoes being exceptionally tasty.

Steak and egg at 161 Cafe & Bistro
We did experience a mix-up with our coffee order, but a smile and apology from the front of house helped make everything right. Regular americanos cost €2.20, rising to €2.50 for a large coffee. Fresh-squeezed orange juice, just baked pastries and scones and simple tasty lunch keeps the crowds coming during the day, while dinner is served until 10pm Thurs-Sat.

161 Cafe & Bistro is the kind of venue that every suburb or shopping area needs. Nothing overly fancy, but everything here is prepared to a high standard. Judging by the crowds I see in the window every weekend, lots of other people are enjoying it also.

161 Cafe & Bistro, Upper Rathmines Road, Dublin 6
Tel: +353 (0)1 497 8049

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

[Review] Bibi's Cafe, Emorville Avenue, Dublin 8

Sometimes you come across a restaurant or cafe that is so charming and lovely that you literally don't want to tell anyone else. News of its existence circulates via word of mouth (and through clenched teeth) as no one really wants it to get too popular. If you tell someone, it means that your chances of securing a seat have declined, so it's really in your own best interests to stay quiet.

Shhssshhh then, don't repeat what I'm about to tell to you to anyone else. It's just between you and me, right?

Bibi's Cafe on Emorville Avenue is a teeny-tiny cafe attached to sister enterprise, the Doll's Boutique. (Perfect for those folk who would like to combine some cool clothes shopping with coffee and tasty cake). Doll's is run by Petria Lenihan, while sister Maisha Lenihan looks after the culinary action in Bibi's (which is named after their grandmother, Bibi).

Sitting at the outdoor tables in the sunshine on a street of residential redbrick houses is hard to beat, but you can head indoors in inclement weather. Inside, there are a few small tables along a banquet seat with additional stools providing seating at a tall counter (but in order to  sit there, you'd have to elbow aside all the fabulous looking cakes). A proper multi-ring gas cooker lurks behind the counter, providing the beating heart of Bibi's.
The cosy interior of Bibi's Cafe
We visited recently for Saturday brunch and were given a hand-written photocopied menu. It's not too often you read a menu where you could happily choose any dish, but this was one such case. We dithered between delicious sounding dishes such as Eggs Florentine, brioche French toast, spciy beans on toast with chorizo before making our choices.

We both initially had our eyes on Bibi's version of a toastie - a pan toasted sandwich with ham, Gubbeen cheese and homemade chutney (7.50). Made from thick toasted slice of bread, golden brown on the outside and with cheese oozing down the sides, it was simply the best toastie ever! (Disclaimer - may contain slight exaggeration). Granted, the homemade chutney could have been spread a little more evenly, but the generous melted cheese content won my heart.
Pan toasted ham and Gubeen cheese sandwich
The inclusion of roasted butternut squash in a breakfast dish intrigued me. It came served in hearty chunks with two poached eggs, garlic yogurt and a coriander & chili butter (€9.50). The squash was cooked beautifully and worked really well when dunked in the punchy garlic yogurt and punctured egg yolk. The only slightly disappointing aspect was the chili & coriander butter which could have been stronger - after all, the butternut squash can take heat really well. The dish was served with 2 toasted slices of the same crunchy bread as used in the toastie.
Roasted butternut squash with poached eggs & garlic yogurt
We were enjoying brunch as Bibi's so much that we lingered for a second cup of good coffee, which comes with mini portions of their tasty cakes nestled in the curves of the spoons. On the day we visited, it was a scrummy tangy lemon cake. Americano coffees were €2.50 while lattes were €3.00, and takeaway coffee is available if you're in the neighbourhood.

So there you have it. Grudgingly, I've shared the word on Bibi's. I really shouldn't have though, as I want to keep it all for myself. So don't go there, alright? And let me remind you one more time - don't tell anyone else.

Doll's Boutique & Bibi's Cafe, 14b Emorville Avenue, Dublin 8
Tel: +353 (0)1 454 7421
Twitter: @bibiscafe
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