Browsing articles in "Food"
Feb 24, 2012

Fiji Coffee Bar – Chocolate Heaven

If I was a housewife, in a parallel universe, then Tesco Merrion would be that world. Lost among the Family Size Daz I wandered into the “culture” aisle and got into character by flicking through the Mills & Boon. I’m not kidding! What was I doing here, like a fish out of water, only visiting at St Vincent’s next door. Apart from the supermarket, the Merrion Centre is seriously tumbleweed, so Fiji Coffee Bar is like an artisan oasis in Elm Park.

Fiji is so attractive I defy anyone to walk past and not indulge – pretty cakes, shards of chocolate in myriad flavours and the delicious aroma of fresh coffee. Billed as the ultimate coffee and chocolate experience, Fiji delivers with Badger and Dodo organic beans roasted in Fermoy, Benoit Chocolates handmade in Kenmare and Teapigs herbal and speciality brews. I picked up some Benoit raspberry white chocolate – ambassador you are spoiling me…

Fiji Coffee Bar, Merrion Centre, Dublin 4

Feb 23, 2012

On Cloud Nine at Cloudberries

Being a city chick I always feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere when out posted to suburbia. Today I found myself in Cabinteely village, which to be fair is really quite quaint. Imagine a countryside Main Street upgraded, Changing Rooms style, by a townie. The place has transformed from a one horse town to a smart little spot with its widened footpaths, sensible parking and glut of cute cafes.

We were actually on the way to Urbun for Dad’s birthday, when we were enticed by Cloudberries. One look in the door of this homely gaff and we were won over by the fresh lunch fare to go. Generously stuffed sandwiches, homemade cakes and rainbow salads. We took a table in the dinky dining room with Yummy Mummies to our right and Suits to our left. My Mother said it was like being in someones house to which my Dad noted that it once was someones house. Dads are always right.

We tucked into chicken and pesto, brie and avocado sandwiches on fluffy Cavistons bread. Smoked salmon with capers on brown bread. All served with mixed leaves. Dad enjoyed a hearty bowl of veg and lentil soup while Mother and I sipped loose leaf Suki tea. Served on a bespoke tray it was a toasty mellow brew. Quality ingredients are the key to Cloudberries success, as these sandwiches were truly the best I’ve had in Dublin.

Friendly barrista Paul told me that owner Suzy bakes the cakes and brown bread herself and had specially sourced the Cavistons loaves. The vibe at Cloudberries is caring about the food, as Paul raved about their Badger & Dodo coffee. The Red Rock espresso is a hit with punters – good coffee being something of a rarity on these shores. Back in my city Bat Cave, I wish Cloudberries was my local caff but I promise to make another trip to the wilds of SoCoDu very soon.

Feb 23, 2012

Girl About Town – Tea in Keogh’s Cafe

With a few spare hours sandwiched in between appointments today, I decided to have a look around the shops. The Spring/Summer 12 collections are very yummy indeed. Florals and floaty things are it – lucky I already rock that look, so no need to buy. Score! Anyway this girl always enjoys a bit of window shopping.

First stop was American Apparel, which I’ve walked past a million times, but never been into. I must admit the lack of girly chintz had me making a sharp u turn in the direction of Avoca. Now you’re talking. Though I do miss the vintage section – their buyer is such a magpie. Had the prices been pocket friendly I think it would have worked out.

Topshop. You know you’re too old for this place when it feels like your teenage bedroom. Though I was curious to see a gang of Loretto girls in ankle grazing uniform – they looked like nuns! When I was a kid we rolled our skirts up at the waist to show off our pins. Time to cross town to a proper lady shop.

Clerys is officially my fave shop – it’s the Tea Rooms – but lose the outdoor piped muzac. Noise pollution. Once inside though I was immersed in lovely stuff – handbags, scarves and gloves, yes please! Clerys trumps Arnotts and BT in the department store stakes – it’s made for browsing, the shop girls are charming and style wins over fashion.

Back in the real world I made my way over the Ha’penny Bridge, through Temple Bar and over to Keogh’s Cafe. With half an hour left on the clock it was the perfect pit stop before my next meeting. Keogh’s is tucked away on Trinity Street, a small place with a big heart. The muffins here are famous, their aroma enticing passersby from brimming baskets atop the counter.

Banana and walnut, pear and vanilla, carrot and orange, I could go on… I went for plum and almond and a nice pot of tea. For a bigger bite, Keogh’s do delicious wraps and quiches as well as soup and hearty seafood chowder. But for just 4.45 euro Keogh’s has got to be the best value tea and cake in town, forgetting cardboard coffee shop deals. And a very nice chap to bring my tray to the table too – good service is priceless.

Keogh’s Cafe, 1-2 Trinity Street, Dublin 2

Feb 21, 2012

Urban Picnic – Blueberry Tuesday!

Ooh what shall I do today? A bit of an aimless wander around always does my soul good. It’s the best way to stumble upon new places, bump into friends or meet nice people. I love seeing what’s happening in town. New Oxfam opening on South King Street this Friday – delicious dresses in the window! All I knew was that I wanted pancakes. After a little mooch I found myself in George’s Street Arcade, an old teenage haunt of mine. Urban Picnic – bingo! I’ve been here for lunch with pals a few times and was very impressed with their nosh.

Urban Picnic ticks all the boxes for a cosy cost effective munch. The food has that homemade taste good factor with a short menu offering lunch staples from soup to thai chicken curry and daily specials. I got in before the crowd today and chef Vinny told me I was the lucky first to get my mitts on freshly whipped blueberry pancakes. The fluffy stack came drizzled with syrup and a lovely cup of tea. Douze point for leaving the tea bag in and serving in a great big cup.

As I tucked in, Vinny agreed that many of his customers had the same nostalgic memories of the arcade as I have. But it has to be said the place has a great vibe at the moment, having had its ups and downs over the decades. Urban Picnic has been here for two and a half years and Vinny told me how the arcade has become more foodie focused, with gastro neighbours Simon’s Place, Honest to Goodness and Lolly & Cooks. Vinny’s plans include a new Saturday menu offering brunchy fare like homemade beans on thick toast. Yummy – I’ll eat that!

Urban Picnic, George’s Street Arcade, Dublin 2

Feb 13, 2012

The Mellow Fig – A Gem of A Cafe

I do love a surprise! And The Mellow Fig was exactly that. Trudging around Blackrock in my wellies on a dark day I found this new place. It looked a delight but I’d already eaten… So when a girlfriend suggested lunch the following day I knew exactly where to take her. And it was my birthday too!

The Mellow Fig reminded me a little of Avoca or Foam with it’s hotch potch decor and pastel tableclothes, but with acres of space it feels nice and airy. I noticed a few families enjoying lunch, as there’s plenty of room for prams. After a little loitering at the homemade cakes counter – yummy! – we took a nice table at the back and settled in.

Creamy lattes were delivered by a smiley waitress. Followed by a Croque Monsieur for me, feta and roast veg tart for my mate and a hearty chicken sandwich and soup for her hubby. All were declared delicious. I tucked into fluffy salty bread with some fresh leaves balancing out my carb fest.

The sign of a good place me is somewhere I can totally chill and The Mellow Fig rocks this vibe in spades. We nattered away happily, relaxing in the wooden chairs. Next up dessert – a giant wodge of moist carrot cake, a heart shaped shortbread biscuit and an old school cream slice. I’ll be back!

The Mellow Fig, Georges Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin

Feb 13, 2012

Brasserie Sixty6 – Party Time!

It’s your birthday! Everybody in the club! What else to mark another year wiser but meet a bunch of mates, stuff our faces and quaff cocktails. Brasserie Sixty6 on South Great George’s Street was venue of choice. With it’s varied dinner menu and plenty of space, it’s ideal for a good gang of people. The place does a roaring trade on birthday parties, Hens and Stags.

We wet our whistle at No Name Bar across the road on Fade Street – I recommend the bramble, fresh berries mixed with lemon and Bombay Sapphire. We mosied on over to Brasserie Sixty6, where two of my pals were propping up the cute little in-house bar. Turns out the knew each other already from Laughter Yoga!

We took over a nice big table at the back. Having opted for a late sitting at 9.30pm, the place had filtered out a bit and it was lovely having quiet spot to ourselves. I always like intimate lighting and candles – nothing worse than spotlights!

I held court in the middle so I was chatting left, right and centre. Lovely Chardonnay… And I did have some bites too! Fried goats cheese and walnut salad was seriously noms, followed by pork and black pudding with fondant potato, spinach and apple. Amazingly there was still room in my dessert belly for Eton mess with silky strawberry ice cream.

My bunch of merry men were happy with their fare too – I was spoon fed the crab cocktail, which looked so pretty in a martini glass, some roasted monkfish and a chunk of melty chocolate brownie. Last stop Cafe En Seine for a nightcap and a toe tap – a blast from my suit wearing past.

www.brasseriesixty6.com / Brasserie Sixty6, 66 Great South Georges Street, Dublin 2

Feb 8, 2012

Foam Café – Alice in Wonderland Meets Dorothy

Walking in the door of Foam Café is a bit like stumbling down the rabbit hole and into the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Its higgledy piggledy décor is designed to boggle the senses – every time I go I find something new hanging from the walls. It’s playful and fun and makes me feel that way too!

Just off the Italian Quarter, there’s plenty of space for the gang on Foam’s upstairs sofas, but I popped in today for a bit of down time. It was perfect as the vibe is home from home. Foam from home – ha ha… And I enjoyed some pink goss from next door – thanks for the entertainment boys!

I ordered a latte – I’m a tea lady but Foam’s coffee has converted me – and the open smoked salmon sandwich. Melting into a sofa I picked up one of the many art tomes strewn on my table and munched my lunch at leisure, for that’s the only way to do it in my book. Foam is as good a spot for a solo munch as it is for meeting the gang.

Soft walnut bread spread thickly with cream cheese, and fish layered generously with capers sprinkled on top. I love those salty little devils! The main bite was accompanied by a delicious salad of carrot, coleslaw and mixed leaves. Fresh figs were an exotic touch. A lovely place to lapse into an afternoon carb coma.

www.foamcafe.ie / Foam Cafe, 24 Strand Street Great, Dublin 1

Jan 27, 2012

Maia – A Little Taste of Italy

It was a fresh Friday morning and I had no particular place to go. Well that’s a lie – I was meeting Dad at the Holiday Show in the RDS. But that wasn’t ’til 2 o’clock so I hopped on my bike and ambled towards Ballsbridge in search of lunch. It’s a funny part of town, with plenty of plush hotels, restaurants and coffee places. What about lunch though?

It was then I spied Maia. It’s tucked in amongst that strip of munchy spots at the top of Shelbourne Road. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, it looks like a real neighbourhood place.

I ducked in just before the rush and nabbed a corner of the large bar – an ideal people watching perch. “Hello Beautiful” and I was given the menu. A genuine Italian, the gaffer is very charming and the waitresses efficient and friendly, all the while babbling to their regulars.

The vibe was lively as more folk streamed in, ordering hearty pasta and rustic antipasti. I was presented with a fresh Caprese salad, generous on fluffy mozzarella and with a side of brown bread “to have with your healthy meal Darling”. Sipping on a refreshing ginger and apple juice I soaked in the buzz of Maia, smiling to myself.

Oct 6, 2011

Sheries Café Bar – The Diner With a Difference

I hooked up with a friend – Sheries is lined with two seaters that are perfect for dinner a deux – before the flicks at The Savoy. After a good study of the menu, over a white wine and latte, we opted for starters of smoked salmon carpaccio and salmon bruchetta. Both turned up tasty fish with fresh crispy salad and fluffy bread.

Sheries stand out point is the service – the friendly gaffer runs a tight ship and standards are high without losing the personal touch. Our lovely waitress brought me a chicken Caesar salad and my mate a goat’s cheese salad, presented in large shallow bowls they invited us to tuck in.

Being something of a Caesar connoisseur, it’s a dish that’s easy to get wrong depending on sauce, parmesan and alien ingredients, but Sheries version is spot on. Desserts are almost sold out due to the roaring trade on tea and cake so we get ice cream and pecan pie. Now for a snooze in the cinema…

www.sheries.ie /Sheries Cafe Bar, 3 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1

Oct 6, 2011

Ukiyo – Sing For Your Supper

This place is familiar to many as the karaoke bar on Exchequer Street, but did you know it’s also a Japanese restaurant? That does amazing bento box, wicked cocktails and in my opinion the city’s best late night dancing. The only thing I hadn’t done here was have dinner – and what can I say only noms!

After Mojitos in nearby Dakota we rolled into Ukiyo and the birthday party gang of us were seated at a long bench table – perfect for socialising! I kicked off with a Tokyo Tea – gin, elderflower liquer, Jasmin tea, lemon and Coke – tastes as good as it sounds! Asahi beer all round for my pals.

Now for the nosh. For starter I made easy work of Haru Maki, a spring roll of sirloin beef, sweet potato and peppers – yummy! My main course was Saba–Tatsuta Age, crispy marinated mackerel with salad and rice, it came with a piquant soy. It’s a favourite I’ve had with Ukiyo’s famous 10 euro bento too many times!

Despite what you might assume about Japanese food the portions were generous and the flavours satisfying. Our table was groaning with goodies so it was ideal to swap and share and there really was no room left in our desert bellies… Just as well because the real treat was karaoke. Fifteen of us murdering “Sweet Child O Mine”…

www.ukiyobar.com / Ukiyo, 7 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2