girl eats dublin

Enthusiastically eating my way around Dublin and beyond.

Category: Brunch

161 Cafe & Bistro, Upper Rathmines Road.

I was living a stone’s throw from this place for about six months before I realized that I was spending my Saturday or Sunday mornings trekking (OK, cycling ten minutes) to Ranelagh or town for brunch, when there was a gem on my doorstep. It’s now the place I go when I’m feeling unsociable and want nothing more for company than the paper. The only reason I haven’t featured it in my brunch posts before now is that there are less than twenty seats in the place. Now that I am writing about it, I’ll bleedin’ kill yis all if I can’t get a table the next time I’m hanging for an Eggs Benedict of a Sunday morning.

Café 161 is a tiny restaurant situated in the row of shops on the Upper Rathmines Road that also includes the wonderful Lawlor’s butchers, Connolly’s fish shop, an O’Briens and the institution that is Fothergill’s and their wonderful cakes and baked goodies. Oh, and the obligatory Tesco Express. It’s a great little cluster of specialist stores and a treat to do a little local shopping at the weekend.

cafe161

I’d originally put it down as more of an evening spot, due to their constant advertising of their early bird menu on a sandwich board outside, which I seemed to trip over every time I popped into Tesco for a pint of milk.

It took a friend’s suggestion to have brunch there one weekend to convert me, whereupon I was kicking myself under the table as soon as I had a sip of my giant cappuccino (I actually asked for a “Giant cappuccino,” don’t judge me) and clapped eyes on the fine-looking steak and eggs that I soon found in front of me. I’ve since had a few cracking brunches there – from the Eggs Benedict to the Huevos Rancheros to the French Toast (with chargrilled banana, swoon), all the brunch favourites are on the menu and all under a tenner. For me this is great value, even this far out of town, as the portions are huge. No less than three gloriously fat sausages come with the full Irish, for example, and the ingredients are all clearly of the highest quality – gorgeous yellow eggs, plump roasted tomatoes, fresh salad leaves and glistening hollandaise are all standard at 161. I’m always amazed as to the quality of the food they are turning out of the tiny kitchen here (you’ll see it for yourself as you have to pass through the kitchen to get to the loo!).

Greg, the friendly Kiwi owner, and staff, are always chatty and welcoming, but also perceptive enough to leave you alone if you just want to enjoy a solitary brunch with the paper. The pretty, duck-egg blue decor I’d admired from outside is even prettier inside, although it can feel more cramped than cosy when it’s really busy, and was uncomfortably hot when I visited during our recent heatwave. But I’ll be looking forward to some cosy winter-morning brunches when the weather gets a bit chillier and spinning into town on my bike for Sunday brunch becomes a less appealing prospect. I also really must get around to trying the early bird – €19.50 for two courses has to be a good midweek option.

161 Cafe & Bistro, 161 Upper Rathmines Rd., Dublin 6.
+353 (1) 497 8049
Website | Facebook page

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Weafer & Cooper, Glasthule.

Inside Weafer & Cooper (photo credit: restaurant)

Inside Weafer & Cooper (photo credit: restaurant)

A friend put a conundrum to me the other day: “If you had to give up eating out, except for one day of your choice a week, which day and which meal would you choose?”

Pondering this classic First World Problem (aarrgh! What would become of Girl Eats Dublin?), it didn’t take long for the answer to become clear. You can take your midweek tapas, your Friday night pizza and wine, your Saturday night dinner with a rowdy gang of pals…. but you’ll never take my Suuuuunnnndaaaaaayyyyy Bruuuuuuunnnnch (last line to be read aloud, Braveheart-style, for the desired effect).

Ah, Sunday brunch. One of the only good things spawned in Dublin by the Celtic Tiger, and still an affordable luxury, it has to be my favourite eating-out occasion of the week. The perfect way to cure a hangover if you’ve been out on Saturday night – or if you haven’t, the ideal way to still get a little socialising fix in before going back to work on Monday, making your hungover friends jealous with how fresh you look. Living within strolling distance of both town and Ranelagh, I tend to stick with the tried-and-tested brunch spots – Odessa, Bar with No Name or Dillinger’s (currently closed for renovations). A bad brunch can ruin a perfectly good Sunday, particularly if one’s head is already in a delicate state, so I have tended in the past to avoid risking my weekly eggs-and-coffee-based treat by going somewhere new.

But, in the interest of research (the things I do for you, dear reader), I have been cautiously trying some new brunch spots over the last few months. After a few delicious brunches at my new favourite, the Whitefriar Grill (try the Gambas Benedict), my widening of the net was going well, so last weekend I struck out even further afield, with a willing Brunch Buddy in the form of my friend Gillian. Hangover-free, we hopped in the car and headed out the coast to Glasthule.

Our destination was Weafer & Cooper, a restaurant that’s been in business for about 18 months, but I’d only heard about recently from a colleague who lives nearby. Dun Laoghaire is about as far as my weekend excursions usually take me, so Glasthule is relatively unfamiliar territory. On a main street dominated by a pub, a car showroom and across from an empty shop unit, Weafer & Cooper is a lovely sight. Formerly two old houses, its duck-egg blue shopfront complete with sophisticated signage and large windows appealed even from across the road. My research in advance had informed me that the name, which I had cynically assumed was a makey-uppy effort following the “random name + random name” formation so beloved of bars and restaurants, comes from the fact that the two houses that formed the building the restaurant now occupies were owned by the Weafer family, and the Cooper family. I liked the name already, and learning its history I liked it even more.

It’s a huge premises inside, split into two levels with the kitchen and giant pizza oven down the back and is one of the nicest restaurant fit-outs I’ve seen in Dublin in a long time. I loved the counter immediately inside the front door which held a selection of gorgeous looking fresh baked cakes and tiers of meringues, then leading on into the bar and coffee-making area.

I’m a sucker for a window seat, so I chose one of the tables for two at the window, and settled in to review the menu. Asking for a ‘strong Americano’ while I did so, I got exactly that – an excellent coffee served in a lovely glass mug was accompanied by a cute miniature glass milk bottle containing my requested hot milk. I also ordered a fresh juice on impulse, having seen their juice menu on the blackboard while I was waiting for the table. ‘The Beet,’ (€4.50) containing beetroot, carrot and orange, was a vibrantly coloured and delicious glass of goodness that was guzzled in no time.

Hovering in indecision over the menu, and with no sore head to be cured with eggy dishes, I ended up throwing carb-caution to the wind and ordering from the pizza menu, choosing the Gambero pizza (€15) with prawns, rocket, lime and creme fraiche. Gillian asked to combine two of the brunch dishes, a request that was met with a sunny “no problem” attitude from our friendly waitress – take note, other Dublin brunch establishments (on the topic, I’m hoping that Dillinger’s remove that rather harsh “No Substitutions” from their menu when they reopen next month).

In the time between ordering and receiving our food, the temperature around our window seat got so cold and draughty, dropping another bit every time the door behind me opened, that we had to ask to be moved otherwise we’d have been eating our lunch with our coats on. Again this was “no problem at all,” but as we saw other diners shivering around us too, this seemed like a problem Weafer & Cooper’s owners should probably look at addressing.

Once settled at our new table, the food arrived and Gillian was served two beautifully poached eggs on top of smoked salmon, accompanied by some very fresh-looking roasted tomatoes, grilled Portobello mushrooms, and some divine Guinness bread. My pizza could have done with a little less cheese which was in danger of overwhelming the prawns, but was otherwise crisp and delicious, the creme fraiche, rocket and hint of lime perfectly setting off the generous topping of large tiger prawns. If you’ve never tried prawns on a pizza before, I highly recommend this one.

weafer

For dessert, lured by the sight of the baked goods counter rather than the official dessert menu, we shared a chocolate brownie and a giant, fresh meringue which Gillian described as “the most perfect meringue I’ve ever had.”

The service was friendly and considerate throughout, although it got a little confused the busier they became with Sunday lunch parties. I was kindly given half of my brownie carefully wrapped up to take home, which I greatly enjoyed with a cuppa later that evening, but the second coffees we ordered after our dessert took so long to arrive that we almost regretted them once they did. We were in no rush so it didn’t bother us too much, but would have been irritating had we been in a hurry to get out by a certain time. This, and the chilly temperature of the front dining area, were my only gripes in what was otherwise a really great brunch/lunch experience. Some draught-proofing around the front door and windows and they’ll have that latter problem solved. Or I’ll just wait for the weather to get a bit warmer before making a trip back…

So, another successful experiment in brunching. I think the VCC is going to be next on my list, but if you have any other recommendations, do let me know in a comment!

Weafer & Cooper, 71-73 Glasthule Road, Co. Dublin.

Tel: (01) 231 1971

Website and Facebook page.

Bar with No Name, Fade Street.

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.

Ouch, my eyes. My poor, hungover eyes.

Ouch, my eyes. My poor, hungover eyes. (Photo credit: TripAdvisor)

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.

http://lgueuleton.com