Farmer Brown’s Lands in Rathmines!

IMAG6139

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.

IMAG6137

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.

IMAG6136

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.

IMAG6138

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

Advertisements
Farmer Brown’s Lands in Rathmines!

Dinner at The Fumbally

IMAG6123

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.

IMAG6124
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.

IMAG6125

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.

IMAG6126

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.

IMAG6127

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

Taste at Rustic Stone

IMAG6083
What’s Dining Out if It’s Not Got Erotic Chopstick Art?

Rustic Stone got a re-vamp last year and along with new décor a new restaurant was placed above the original. The new restaurant is Taste, a Dylan McGrath fusion experience. The menu tells you which taste sensation to be ready for: sweet, salty, sour, etc with each dish. That’s the gimmick, I guess, but I don’t remember paying attention to those “taste menus” at all as we ordered. Taste is highly influenced by Japanese cuisine, but there are elements from South America and other Asian locations as well we’re told. These days focusing on one cuisine seems amateur to most celebrity chefs. “Fusion” sits across the room batting her eyelashes, and you’d better start mixing your materials.

I went to Taste the other night with my godmother, her partner, my husband and my appetite. We climbed up and up (passing a hip bar with young, attractive, pre Patrick’s Day revelers getting into their cocktails) to the L-shaped restaurant. There is a sushi bar along one wall, then seats and tables along the others. It’s a nice space; exposed brick, naked light bulbs, plenty of copper. It glows.

IMAG6082

We all opted to order dishes from the “small dishes” and “small warm dishes” item lists as well as a few rolls of sushi to share. Though it was unintentional, we enjoyed a full pescatarian dinner. Eating as either a pescatarian or a vegetarian would be both simple and delicious here.

The dishes came out like little works of art in pretty bowls or arranged nicely on little plates. The artichoke hearts arrived over smoking hot coals. This is fun if entirely unnecessary. It also takes up a lot of elbow room.

IMAG6085
Not Lambchops, Artichokes. 

We especially enjoyed the “blowtorched” scallops (which we ordered only because the word blowtorched was in the title) and the sweet chili prawns with a tempura crunch. The highlight was certainly the king crab sushi roll. It was warm, salty, sweet and sticky. There was a siracha mayo for dipping and some fresh ginger for palate cleansing. We ordered another one of those (one just wasn’t enough) and one of the shrimp rolls as well. The shrimp was almost as good as the crab. Almost. I didn’t even reach for my camera for these guys. You’ll have to just go meet them for yourselves.

IMAG6086
Blowtorched Scallops & Sweet Chili Prawns

I would go back just for the king crab sushi roll, but the other taste treats were delightful. The service let the side down. Yet again, Dublin restaurant service puts the overall experience the wrong side of extraordinary. We arrived very early and had the full attention of about three servers for about fifteen minutes. As more tables arrived, we were less and less important to anyone. It took far too long to order a second glasses of wine and to ask for the bill. You’d think they would be on it because two of the staff members running the show had blue tooth ear pieces in. It looked impressive, but maybe they weren’t on?

The food, the ambience, the wine, etc, is all great at Taste. If the service had also been great, it would have been a truly excellent dinner.

 

Taste at Rustic Stone

Bastible

IMAG6001

When we sat down at Bastible the other night none of us could actually say what a Bastible is. Can you? Well, here you go: a Bastible is “a flat bottomed cast iron pot used for baking largely in the nineteenth and early twentieth century Ireland.” Now that we know, we are all better people, right?

I have been known to frequent restaurants strictly because they have fun bathrooms. There is a restaurant in the West Village in NYC that I brought many people to and went back to repeatedly for two reasons: 1, $10 two course lunch menu and 2, bathrooms that were hilarious and terrifying all at once. I would bring friends from out of town, then they would then bring new friends when they would come back a year later. The bathrooms kept Peep in our repertoir for years. I would still go back today. I won’t tell you exactly what the bathrooms at Peep are like, go see for yourself.

The bathrooms at Bastible are excellent too. Their use of brushed concrete, communal trough sink and rope toilet roll holders was enough to have our table talking for at least ten minutes. That was handy because we were there for over three hours and needed to fill our time at the table talking about something.

We talked about the food when we had it, which probably totaled all of 30 minutes of the three hours we spent in the place.

IMAG6002
Freebie treat.

The food is worth talking about. It’s excellent. If it had been served in a timely manner it would have been better. We were all very hungry for each course, then ate too quickly, then all felt hungry thirty minutes after.

IMAG6003
Delicious Beetroot Starter

There were some classy freebies, and I love a classy freebie. We had gorgeous giant radishes to dip in  a smoked cod roe hummus-like sauce. These freebies were standard for all dining and not because we were being made to wait for our food.

IMAG6004
Venison Main

I was told we would be asked politely to leave by 8.45 when I booked, but our food had not arrived by 8.30. Then we were allowed to sit with nothing to eat or drink for almost fifteen minutes before we got the bill. It got exciting when the fire alarm started going off because of some frying going on in the open kitchen. We probably should have just started on a second dinner at that stage. Would they have noticed if we just walked out?

IMAG5999
Offending Extractor Fan/Kitchen

For a restaurant that has been open long enough to have worked out service kinks, and to have made sure their extraction fan works. I had very high expectations. The food lived up to them. The overall experience did not. For the cost of the experience, all expectations should have been met.

Bastible

Bow Lane Brunch

images-2

At Bow Lane on Saturday morning, I turned into a Restaurant Jerk. I became the guy who makes a fuss about food, or argues over what can and cannot be served. I am never that guy. If my meal comes out and is missing an item promised to me on the menu, I won’t say anything. If my burger isn’t cooked perfectly, I let it slide. On Saturday, I ordered the Truffle Egg Toast, and this is how I morphed into Restaurant Jerk:

Me: I’d like the Truffle Egg Toast, please, but may I have the egg well cooked?

Server: Oh, um, I actually don’t know if you can. It’s a poached egg.

Me: Right, and I would just like it to be cooked a bit longer. I’m not supposed to eat runny yolks at the moment.*

Server: Well, you see, the egg is cooked in the toast, it’s all put under the grill, and if we try to cook it longer the toast will burn.

This was my moment to say, “ok, well, let me have a look at something else, then, give me a second. What might you recommend?”

But instead, I said, “is there really no way you could cook the egg first and then put it in the toast?”

Server: You see, they crack the egg in the bread and cook it all together. That’s just how it’s done.

I’m thinking “let it go, it’s fine, I’m bummed, but let it go,” and I’m saying,

Me: And there is no other way to do it?

Server: I’m so sorry. But the Eggs Benedict is really good and we can definitely poach your eggs longer?

Me: Let me see . . . . Um . . .

At this stage my husband and my friend are thinking “Annie! Decide! Who cares! Oh man, we’re sitting with the Restaurant Jerk.”

Me: Ok, fine. I’ll have the Eggs Benedict I guess. With the eggs well cooked. Please.

You know what? The Eggs Benedict was pretty darn tasty. There was plenty of slow cooked salty ham, wilted spinach, crispy sourdough bread in place of a muffin and just the right amount of hollandaise sauce. My eggs were cooked perfectly.

IMAG5967
The Eggs Benedict

C ordered the Eggs, Greens and Grains which was colorful on arrival and colorful in the mouth. The freekeh, a grain I hadn’t heard of before, was cooked with a kind of pesto and there were plenty of roast vegetables. It was also hilarious to watch C struggle with the full roast leek on this plate.

IMAG5965
Eggs, Grains, and Greens

Our friend had the pancakes and I’m glad she did. Someone had to provide desert. The ‘cakes themselves live somewhere between a crepe and an American pancake and were stacked tall before being drowned in a maple caramel sauce and some cream for good measure. There were also bananas.

IMAG5966
PANCAKES!

Our coffees were tasty, the room was dark and cosy. Though the brunch is delicious, I did feel that Bow Lane is somewhere you want to be in the evening. When the sun is shining outside it’s hard to sit in a dimmed room with dark wood and leather. However, I like to imagine myself surrounded by that dark wood and leather on a rainy night with one of the many cocktails on the list.

There is a bar menu and a restaurant menu for evening. Some items overlap. The space is large, so even though Bow Lane is quite popular, you should definitely try to squeeze in. I will, because you can’t judge a place just on its brunch, right?

 

 

*I am currently pregnant and have been told to avoid runny yolks, but like all pregnancy advice, there is always some wiggle room and frankly, I probably could have eaten the Truffle Egg Toast. The whole thing just became competitive for me. I turned into a Restaurant Jerk.

 

Bow Lane Brunch

Café at Industry

IMAG5963

It is nice  to walk into Industry on Drury Street and not have to leave 10-15 minutes later feeling angry that I simply cannot afford to pay over 50 euro for some nesting wire baskets. Happily for me, the food at the café is affordable and delicious.

The menu is like an upmarket Blazing Salads (Industry’s neighbor) with the added carnivore offerings of meat or fish. There were seven salad options the other day and two protein options. Salad options included a beet and goats cheese, c0uscous, grilled sweet potato, grilled broccoli, green lentil, carrot, and green beans with sugar snaps. Protein options were cold chicken breasts smothered in an herb yogurt sauce and cold grilled salmon.

IMAG5960

I had the chicken and two green salads. An extra broad bean salad was brought out when I was about halfway through my meal which I thought was unfair. It looked like a mountain of creamy orange bean goodness.

There are four vegetable juices to choose from, all the coffee confections you could hope for and plenty of flourless dessert treats. So if you just want a snack or a quick coffee, you’re taken care of. Whatever your choice, you’ll be hard pressed to choose badly. The food is fresh and tasty, the coffee is good and according to an overheard conversation the cookies are “excellent”.

IMAG5961

It’s nice to sit in Industry and watch the people walk by. Even though I cannot afford the candles, blankets, or hip leather backpacks they sell, sitting amongst those treasures, eating yummy food is some consolation. If you’ve got a cape or giant scarf that can be slung around like a cape, you’ll be even closer to fitting in with your surroundings.

Café at Industry

Borlottie

IMAG5942

Borlottie, on Baggot Street, needs a new door. The whole look of the place could use a re-vamp, but the first issue the designers should address the door. I was sitting by the door and everyone who walked in or out became my enemy. It wasn’t totally their faults. The door is not easy to close. The owners/managers clearly know this as there is a written sign on the door that says “please close door completely.” If only.

It’s a shame that the decor is not nicer (or chicer or cozier or slicker) because the food is good. If this place were in NYC (and it might as well be for the “CROSSFIT RECOMMENDED!” meals on the menu) I would slide past it to a slightly better looking salad/healthy lunch joint. No one should ever underestimate the power of a slick interior. I will go and sit a coffee shop because I like the light fixtures. I realize that says more about me than interior design, but I can’t be alone in this.

The main competition a few doors up is Cocu, and Cocu is far cozier and cuter if much tinier. Borlotte is vast. I like that there are more places to sit (and free wifi), so it should be comfortable to sit there. And warm. With a door that shuts properly, even if the queue usually goes out the door.

IMAG5943

The food is fresh. I had the house salad with marinated turkey breast as my protein. I like that turkey is showing up more and more on Irish menus in creative ways. My salad was tasty but not “I cannot wait to get back here” fabulous.

There are more options (hot pots, noodle soups, rice dishes) than up at Cocu, and from the intel I gathered from staring at other people’s plates, they seem to be good options. Most everyone finished their whole meal.

Here’s a thing, though: in a health food based dining joint you would hope to find an eye towards environmental impact. The hot pots are served in styrofoam/plastic containers. The salads are all in plastic. The bin looks like Al Gore’s worst nightmare. It’s not hard to source paper take away containers.

Though I was satisfied with my salad and thought the turkey was a lovely addition, I won’t be rushing back to Baggot Street weekly for a salad here. Get a new door, though, and we’ll talk about it.

IMAG5944
The Offending Door. And Opening Hours. And Me.

 

Borlottie