Meet Me In The Morning! Or Afternoon!

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Meet Me in the Morning is a new cafĂ© just off Camden Street. It is so new  that when I was there decaf coffee wasn’t an option. Neither was herbal tea. I was assured, however, that non-caffeine drinkers will have some options very soon. They’re still getting supplies in.

I was offered, in the most polite way possible, either of the two coffee bean options they do have, complete with a description about why they are distinct and delicious. I myself was too polite to interrupt this monologue knowing I would just order a tea.

The space is light and full of light wood and wild flowers. I loved the wood-topped tables. I want one for my own home. It’s comfortable and minimal. The food looks simple and delicious, and yes, don’t worry, there is avocado on this menu. Eggs too. We are still in Dublin, after all. Salads, soups, etc all make an appearance. All the food is local and prepared on the day.

MMITM is a very nice spot just off the main drag to sit and have a bite or sip some (caffeinated. For now) warm drinks. I’d say it will be worth popping in a few times to see how the menu changes throughout the summer. Not to mention trying all the different delicious coffee beans.

 

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Meet Me In The Morning! Or Afternoon!

Dolce Sicily

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This week is Italian Week! I did not set out to do that, it’s totally subconscious. I’m reading the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan books at the moment and obviously it’s having an effect.

Dolce Sicily occupies the location once inhabited by Staple Foods, before their move to Grattan Street. Specifically, you’ll find it in Crow Bar in Temple Bar, and much of the furniture and decor is the same as when it was Staple Foods.

The issue with this space is the fact that it smells a bit like a nightclub. It’s got that “nightclub in the daytime” stench that no amount of Italian food can hide. Staple Foods had the same issue.

The majority of the menu belongs to paninis and salads. Perfect quick lunch fair. The paninis are slightly outside of the “normal” parma ham and mozzarella and include items like smoked kippers and egg, or sun-dried tomato and anchovy pesto. There are a variety of breads to choose from in case you are anti-ciabatta. However, if you are really anti-ciabatta there are other non-Italian delis and cafĂ©s to visit in Dublin, so maybe try those first?

The cake list is impressive and many of the offerings sit proudly on the bar near the coffee maker. They also sit next to the beer taps. Again, the Pistachio Nutella cake might be more appetizing if you weren’t also forced to wonder if you might like a pint of Tiger beer.

The bar vibe did not stop many people from enjoying lunch, coffees and cakes. In fact, the majority of the clientele was, in fact, Italian. That is always a good sign. The staff is also all Italian. The food is tasty. I hope that all of those big pluses keep Dolce Sicily alive despite the stale beer smell.

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Dolce Sicily

Slice of Pizza Pie! At DeFontaine’s

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Both for Me. Get Your Own. 

In New York City getting a slice of pizza is as easy as hailing a cab: stick your arm out and it happens. In Dublin, buying pizza one cheesy slice at a time is not the norm.

DeFontaine’s, on the south side of Capel Street Bridge, is a New York-style pizza joint. It even smells authentic NYC in there. There are two giant ovens that bake the pies as well as heat up the slices as they are ordered. There are a variety of toppings to choose from: the classics, cheese and pepperoni, the new classics, Hawaiian and broccoli, and a few extras, extra cheese and peppers, onions and mushrooms, as well as spinach and ricotta.

I popped in on my way to a birthday party across the river–VERY hungry–a few weeks ago. I got two giant slices. I ate them both quite happily, thank you very much, and didn’t feel ill afterwards.

The cheese slice actually did taste exactly like a New York slice (when you walk into a pizza joint in NYC and order “a slice” it will always be a classic cheese unless you ask for different). It was warm and gooey and perfect. I also ordered the spinach and ricotta because, you know, eat your greens. This too was tasty. I kept the bottle of chili oil close at hand.

The clientele was mostly single dudes. I mean, I don’t know if they are “single”, I didn’t ask them out. They were just on their own. I was on my own too, the only lady in there for most of the time I ate. Only one other girl came in, ordered, and took her slice to go.

Though it smells and looks quite like a New York pizza joint, that doesn’t make a person want to sit around and enjoy a leisurely meal there. It’s a grab ‘n’ go kind of place. But hey, that’s proper authentic too. And, if your a single lady, who knows? Maybe all of those dudes are actually single.

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Slice of Pizza Pie! At DeFontaine’s

Fabulous Fia!

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A few of my hipper (not hipSter, hipper) friends had mentioned Fia to me weeks ago. One of them knows the chef/owner. The other of them just knows things. I was cycling back from an appointment the other morning and I realized I could go exactly in the direction of Fia on my way home.

Fia is not exactly in central Dublin striking distance. I like this. It sits in a no-man’s-land on Rathgar Road between Rathmines and Rathgar. When I lived in Dublin in 2001-02 as a Trinity student, there was a shop on the corner where Fia is now. I would swing into the shop on my way up to visit friends in Rathgar and stock up on peanut M&Ms. This corner has some happy food memories for me.

Instead of peanut M&Ms, though, I treated myself to a delicious flat white and some sour dough toast with butter and homemade marmalade. It was an “elevenses” meal, as I was far too early for lunch and had already eaten my breakfast. The lunches looked great, though, as they started to parade out while I got ready to leave.

It’s a simple, small menu, but they’ve picked items that work. The Peas on toast looked especially inviting for a spring afternoon. Good eggs, great cheese and free water packed with mint and lemons: what more does any sweet café need?

The space is simple and light. The bathroom (important for pregnant women of Dublin!) is clean and spacious, and the clientele is mostly middle-aged locals. The staff are upbeat and on it, the prices are fair, and the Peas on Toast will be my next order.

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Fabulous Fia!

Farmer Brown’s Lands in Rathmines!

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Another weekend, a new brunch spot for Rathmines locals. Farmer Brown’s has migrated up the canal from Bath Avenue Dublin 4* to make it’s home in the cursed location on Rathmines Road across from the Swan Leisure Centre. I use the word “cursed” lightly, ok? I’m not a practitioner of witchcraft, but there is something definitely unlucky about the location. Two restaurants in the past two years have tried to make it work there and nothing has stuck. Is it because it’s set back from the road and you can’t peek inside? Is it because the inside is actually tiny and not very well laid out? Is it because sometimes you walk right past and forget it’s there?

Maybe all of those reasons contribute to the fact that other restaurants have failed, but Farmer Brown’s has a good, solid reputation behind it. They also have twigged the fact that it’s a tricky location because they have gone for the hard sell by putting up HUGE signage which is hard to miss from the road. So fingers crossed the locals will swarm like moths to a giant neon sign.

I don’t think this location would be so cursed if it were not in Ireland. With it’s really lovely sun-trap front patio, it is ideal for warm weather. If it were in Portugal, or Greece, or even France in the summer, I’m sure the place would be hopping. But the fact remains that even on glorious spring days like we’ve enjoyed recently it can be too cold to sit outside. Even in a sun trap. Hence the restaurant immediately loses 50% of it’s space.

The FB’s team has made it look quite retro though, fitting it out with white and yellow tiles and little potted plants. On a sunny morning, it will be great.

We did not visit on a sunny morning, however, and my brunch dates and I crammed into a little table by the door. The place was packed, but it’s packed where there are about 15 people in there. It’s one of those eateries where you want to face a wall, not the room, so as not to see the chaos of people squeezing past each other to get to the service bar for coffees, up the stairs to the bathrooms, or past each other waiting in the queue for food. It’s cramped. That makes it not relaxed.

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The coffee is very good and the service was cheerful and pretty quick considering the cramped quarters. The brunch menu is heavy. There is a lot of bread, a lot of hollandaise, a lot of eggs. I ordered off the regular weekday breakfast menu, opting simply for eggs on toast with a side of sausage. Even that was not a casual breakfast. The bread was delicious and really buttery which I appreciated. Eggs are eggs are eggs, and the sausages were fine. I felt full when I’d finished.

C ordered the “healthy option” brunch which consisted of four slices of brown (not white sourdough like I had) toast, avocado (you simply cannot, will not, have brunch in this city without an avocado!), poached eggs, pomegranate seeds (interesting), bacon, tomato bits and rocket. It was also heavy. He was also full when he’d finished. The portions are downright American.

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I hope Farmer Brown’s Rathmines will be successful because I feel bad when places are not successful. I am just not sure how much I will be able to contribute to it’s overall success. In my older, more experienced brunching years, I don’t completely enjoy eating such heavy food packed elbow to elbow to elbow with strangers while knowing there are people waiting for my table. I don’t find the popularity relaxing. I know the stodgy brunches will appeal to many living in the area (read: the ones with hangovers on weekend mornings), and those younger and more vulnerable brunchers will surely not have the same issue with overcrowding that I do.

The prices are fair and, as I said, on a sunny day, you’ll get a tan with your eggs. What’s not to love?

Follow the giant sign and get your Rathmines brunch on.

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*The original Farmer Brown’s is still on Bath Ave in D4 if you are down that way.

Farmer Brown’s Lands in Rathmines!

Dinner at The Fumbally

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Lunch at Fumbally is an obvious weekday go to not only for me but for most of the people I know in Dublin. Plenty of people I don’t know frequent Fumbally as well. Sometimes there is an Irish celebrity of some form or other. I have never heard anyone say that they were not a fan of Fumbally.

Now Fumbally is serving dinner on Wednesday evenings from 7-9. The menu has two options: meat or vegetarian. The same dish is made two ways. I love the fact that I don’t really have to choose. I also love that I know what will be placed in front of me will more than likely be delicious.

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Main Event

This Wednesday was Korean night. The option was a huge rice bowl filled with kimchi, scallions, spicy peanuts, and either crispy tofu or pork belly. Nothing is more comforting than being handed a big bowl of steaming, spicy, sticky rice when it’s chilly outside. The whole place smelled of pickles and spice.

There were sides available as well. Various pickled vegetables, peas and more spicy peanuts and seeds, and (slightly off theme) burned butter with sourdough bread. We made the very easy choice of ordering one of each.

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I opted for the vegetarian option as we were eating late and pork belly seemed a bridge to far if I wanted a relaxed dream land adventure. I had to stop myself from eating to quickly. Luckily the food arrived all at once, which saved me from eating ALL of the burned butter and bread. It is hard to be polite around Fumbally’s homemade burned butter.

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There was nothing that arrived to our table that wasn’t a taste sensation. I sipped on the in-house turmeric, ginger and lemon kombucha and there is wine available too.

We ordered the dessert because didn’t want to be the people who left one untasted item on the menu. It’s not a big menu! Might as well try it all! So we did. We were delighted with ourselves and our incredible peanut butter mousse, chocolate soil and a dark chocolate crisp. Fluffy, nutty, rich, chocolaty goodness that no Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup could hold a flame to.

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Fumbally’s vast interior dresses up in coziness for the evening quite successfully. Lots of candles, low lighting and all the mismatched furniture make it feel like you are at a friend’s house. The service is a bit like that too: attentive but not at all fussy.

There are some fantastic places to dine in Dublin and Fumbally is certainly at the top of that list. For day or night.

Dinner at The Fumbally

DeSelby’s

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Over the past few weeks (a month? More?) we watched as the outside of a shop front on Camden Stret was painted maroon and stained glass windows were put in. “Next hipster café coming up!” said C to me. He wasn’t wrong. But here’s the thing: what was this place before it was a café?

This one has a different feel to the other hip new cafés around town. De Selby’s feels a bit like the old Bewley’s Grafton Street. Before it was Café Bar Deli and then Bewley’s again. It’s dark, and the furniture is more old fashioned. The tables and chairs are like the older places in town. There is wine along one wall and preserves and nuts and seeds along another. The ceilings are high and the walls are paneled with dark wood. Really, what WAS this place?

It does have hipster touches like chalkboard menus, open kitchen and vintage bottles of water. Old timey clocks, more than any one café needs, are dotted around.

There is a lot of fish on the menu. Tuna, fried fish, and crabmeat are sandwich options as well as a fish special of the day (confit tuna salad when I was in). There is a sausage sandwich option, ham-hock (which didn’t arrive that morning) and a Caprese for the true veggies. One soup. The menu simple but sophisticated. There is an odd balcony space above the counter. You can buy coffee makers. Roasted brown coffee is on offer and at the same prices as its other outlets around town.

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De Selby’s sign above the door outside looks like a vintage NYC diner. It doesn’t feel like an NYC diner, though. It’s a bit confusing at first because it looks more formal than an “order at the counter” café. Buts that’s what it is. A helpful man told me to drop my jacket at the table and come up and order. Then the food is delivered to you.

I felt a bit guilty ordering the fried fish sandwich. It was cold out. It’s what I wanted, if not what I needed. Imagine my relief then when it arrived and I saw that it was NOT breaded and fried, but a gorgeous open face pan fried fish sandwich. Lovely fresh caught cod lightly pan fried, well seasoned and delicious. The peas and salad were dressed really well and the whole thing was minty and lemony. There was a really decent amount of fish for a small-ish sandwich.

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I’m still not totally sold on the staff telling me that a sandwich is “really, really good” or “this is one of our best, it’s amazing”, but I suppose if you are excited about the product you’re selling other people will be too.

I arrived at about 12.30 pm and stayed until 2pm. It never got too busy. I suspect it’s hard on Camden Street–quickly becoming Dublin’s Hell’s Kitchen–to nab customers from the more established lunch places up and down the street. But I also suspect that DeSelby’s won’t stay quite for lunch for much longer.

DeSelby’s