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!

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

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