Last Sunday I met the lovely Jane for brunch in that bar that I quite like going to, but dread saying that I’m going to.
You know, The Secret Bar. “That-bar-above-the-French-restaurant-with-the-funny-name-y’know-beside-Hogans.” Snail Bar. No-Name Bar, or, Bar with No Name. Or the latest, “Kelly’s Bar” after the hotel under which Hogan’s, L’Gueleton and “That Bar that Makes me Sound Like a Muppet” now reside.
Yeah, that one.
This place has been doing brunch for years, between 1 and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays, but it still feels like a well-kept secret. It’s a great low-key alternative to going to Odessa for Sunday brunch, which is (deservedly) such an institution by now that it almost feels like a cliche. If you want to go a bit more under the radar for your weekend brunch outing – like when you’re too hung over to face bumping into half of Dublin, this is the place.
If you can get past the terrible art and slightly odd seating arrangements to settle at a table or sink into a sofa, you’ll find that there’s a lovely variety to this menu. You have your Eggs Benedict and other traditionals, but with a little twist here and there, like the Eggs Florentine which comes with lots of smoked salmon on Guinness Brown Bread, or Brioche French Toast with fried banana, bacon and maple syrup.
The coffee’s good, and they served it up quickly, which always scores points with me when it comes to brunch. I went for the Jack McCarthy’s black pudding salad, which came with chunks of pudding that were a little on the dry side; bacon lardons that could have been crispier; and croutons that were way too garlicky…but a perfectly runny poached egg on top redeemed an otherwise average dish. They didn’t have much in the way of veggie options, so Jane was left with goat’s cheese salad. She declared it “well-dressed but unremarkable.” Like a lot of chaps I’ve dated, then.
However, a stellar side of chips saved the day. Straight from the L’Gueleton kitchen, they were skinny, slightly soft French fries at their best, with a side of Bearnaise sauce that ensured the chips vanished way before we’d even made a dent in brunch.
Turns out, it was dessert that was the highlight of this brunch offering. Dessert would never usually feature in my brunch habits, but as Jane had run twelve miles that morning, she decided it had been earned.
Unfortunately, I had no such excuse. Fortunately, I didn’t let that stop me.
A dense, sweet chocolate marquise with delicately flavoured orange ice cream was a fresh alternative to the standard brownie, and my Banana Tarte Tatin could only have been improved by a more generously-sized scoop of the salted caramel ice cream that came on the side.
Service was on the slow side of laid-back, and the bill for two brunch dishes, one side of chips, two desserts and three coffees, came to just about €40. A decent option to try this weekend.
No Name Bar (or whatever you want to call it), Kelly’s Hotel, Fade Street, Dublin 2.