Herb Street Café

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Here’s a little secret for you non-Dubliners: autumn in Dublin is magical. The weather tends to be better than in the summer, the sun is still warm the air is brisk. We had a practically perfect October day over the weekend and I walked all the way down the Grand Canal to Grand Canal Dock for brunch with friends.

I didn’t know that Herb Street existed. It turns out I might be only one of a handful of Dubliners in my demographic who was not informed of it’s presence next to Ely HQ on the north side of GCD. My walk along the canal was peaceful; a few runners, some dogs and their humans, and pockets of activity at Grove Road and again at Baggot Street. But all in all it was a sleepy Saturday morning. Until I hit GCD and Herb Street. “Here are the people.”

We waited for twenty minutes for a table, but waiting in the sunshine is easier. We were seated inside, but the glass wall of the restaurant folds up on nice days which allowed for the buggy to sit outside and our happy party to feel like we were outside without being in direct sunlight.

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There was a dog bowl next to the table and hot sauce on the table. I didn’t even need to taste the food, I already liked this place. I don’t know if it’s Beyoncé’s (hot sauce) influence, but I’m ok with it. Swag. Etc.

The menu was full of classic brunch options. Most dishes are egg based if they’re not pancakes. There is the Dublin special “mexican eggs” which on this menu were “eggos mexicanos.” I am fairly certain that is a slightly racist way to pretend you don’t have Juevos Rancheros like everyone else.  I ended up ordering them–without saying “eggos mexicanos”–because they had the addition of slow cooked pork which tugged at my appetite more than Florentine’s hollandaise did.

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I was almost fully derailed in my ordering by the vision of a beautiful stack of pancakes placed on a table near us. I knew I could not do without tasting the fluffy, American-style tall stack. I hid my total Hungry Larry pancake freakout by suggesting that the table might all share a stack of pancakes? Wouldn’t that be FUN? My dining colleagues agreed without even questioning my motivation. #success.

The food arrived quickly. Mexican style eggs plus pulled pork for the ladies, and Full Irishes for the lads. I don’t know why most restaurants insist on re-naming the Full Irish other things like The House Grill, or The Big Breakfast. Call it what it is. Herb Street’s House Grill (Full Irish) arrived with a hockey puck sized black pudding. Extra points. It also had a plateau of corned beef hash. Double those extra points.

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My egg dish was very tasty and I was able to eat it with one hand while my kid ate his second breakfast of the day on me. The pancakes tasted fine but looked fantastic. They could have been tastier, and as usual the maple syrup wasn’t quite enough to satisfy my maple lovin’ buds. However, it IS pure maple syrup they are serving and the consistency of the pancakes was perfection. I would get blueberry on my next visit. I’m sure a side of bacon with those bad boys would make even the loneliest bruncher smile. Warning: if you are one person you do not need a tall stack, the small stack will be sufficient. In my opinion, sharing is caring and the tall stack is more fun.

All in all Herb Street is as good as any brunch venue closer to the centre of town. But on these golden autumnal days it might be just the thing you need to get you down to the water to enjoy the sunshine, the fresh air and some good old fashioned pancakes. ‘

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Herb Street Café

Soder & Ko.

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Soder and Ko. is one of those places I’ve been meaning to visit for a long time. It’s always on the list, we just haven’t gotten around to it.

Having my cousins in town was a perfect opportunity to try something new. Instead of C and me bringing them to one of our favorites and staring at them wondering “do you love this? We love this. We hope you love this too. Isn’t it the BEST?!” we could all be on the maiden food voyage together.

This was a happy voyage into the wacky world of Asian tapas.

We got the crispy duck sharing platter. I love crispy duck. One cousin was not sure she did. In fact, was almost positive she would not like it. Majority coaxed her around (“It’s like slow cooked pork! It is really good! You’ll love it! It’s not like duck, duck.” and other verbal gems), and she did, in fact, find it delicious. As did we all.

Duck.
Duck.

The less adventurous eating cousin said, “As someone who shies away from duck, it was very yummy. I also really enjoyed the sharing aspect of the meal.”

The other sharing aspects included really fantastic tempura broccoli, rich and creamy aubergine (eggplant) in a spicy soy sauce, raw beet salad, and thick sweet potato fries with toasted coconut sprinkled over it.

Broccoli and Aubergine Sludge
Broccoli and Aubergine Sludge

There was nothing left over. There was a lot of “oh my god, try this!” going around the table as we decimated our portions.

Pretty Beets.
Pretty Beets.

The space is vast: it’s high and long and cavernous. We sat down by the kitchen which felt much cozier than out in the main seating area under twenty-foot ceilings. The decor is of the modern Asian slant; lots of blue and white urns and vases, dark wood, and a very ancient piano that is being used as a table. That bit is not particularly modern Asian…..

Vast Interior
Vast Interior

Like most tapas places, you end up spending a little more than you think you will. It’s never the bargain you imagine it to be. Happily, at Soder & Ko. the food is worth it.

Soder & Ko.