The 7 Best... Brunches
Brunch is special. It fills restaurants with like-minded people in similar states of mind. You can talk to some of them if you like, or hide behind the coloured supplements. It's about having breakfast in the mid-afternoon and nobody minding. It's about eating for comfort and sustenance and so what if you order the same thing every time.
This very American take on weekend feeding was introduced to our green isle by the likes of Odessa and Velure in the mid-1990s. Its heady mix of eggs and cocktails and ruffled bed-head felt revolutionary. Dublin's restaurant scene has transformed since, and today's brunch seekers face considerable choice not just of venue but also of style of food.
Dublin doesn't monopolise brunch of course, and many other cities have their top spots, too: Ard Bia or Kai in Galway; Nash 19 or Idaho in Cork; Mourne Seafood Cafe in Belfast. But this week let's celebrate the vibrancy of Dublin's offerings by presenting you with a week's worth of capital brunching options, should you have a week's worth of lazy weekend afternoons to spare.
8 Sussex Terrace, Dublin 4
01 667 8337
John and Sandy Sabek are the husband-and- wife team behind one of Dublin’s coolest new openings. They do things differently, and so every Sunday they offer up their calm, minimalist dining room to a truly relaxed brunch experience. No indecision anxiety here, an all-in menu (€24) taking you from coffee and doughnuts and home-made granola through another three courses, the last being one of Sandy’s wicked desserts. This unusual and leisurely approach is perfect if brunch will be the main event of your Sunday, and if you’ve lots of gossip to catch up on from the Sunday supplements or your fellow brunchers. And the restaurant is perfectly placed to either take proceedings next door to O’Brien’s for one of the best pints in Dublin or to walk off the indulgences with a canalside stroll.
The Winding Stair
40 Lower Ormond Quay,
01 872 7320
Chef Ian Connolly and restaurateur Elaine Murphy co-owned the unique but short-lived Moe's back in the day, having worked together in The Mermaid Café. It's great to see them weaving their magic together again, especially in the equally unique Winding Stair space. I can vouch for the Fermanagh Black Pig sticky ribs with pickled cabbage, kohlrabi slaw and chips. But really you can't go wrong with Ian's weekend brunch menu, which was one of the key changes made when he joined the team last year. Nestled above the eponymous bookshop and enjoying iconic views overlooking Dublin's Ha'Penny Bridge, the dining room has been one of Dublin's best hang out spaces for many years. Pair that with brilliantly sourced, honest Irish food and well-chosen wines (lots of clever dessert wine pairings for grown-up treats) and you have one of the best brunches going.
16 Aungier Street,
01 475 9003
Don't be fooled by the unapolegetically brash and ladsy Sunday morning Facebook postings. These regular vignettes sketch out increasingly wild possibilities of how this Grill's average punter might get into such a state of hungover disarray that nothing but Whitefriar's Walk of Shame Burrito will sort him out. But behind all the boys-about-town buffoonery is some surprisingly grown-up cooking (pulled venison and foie gras hash with red wine poached pear, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce anyone?) alongside clever cocktails and fresh juices. And it turns out these boys like their girls so there's lots for the girls too, if gendered food choices are your thing.
14B Emorville Avenue,
South Circular Road,
01 454 7421
Bibi's is a paradox: a cosy neighbourhood café with far-reaching culinary references. It began life as Petria Lenehan boutique, Doll's, and has morphed into her sister Maisha's café. Its boho-chic regulars have the figures for the elegant labels on Petria's ever-contracting rail-space, yet the appetites for Maisha's hearty portions. Everything is done with great style and imagination, and the expansion of extra tables into the original shopfloor makes it a safer bet for an impromptu visit. Or you can sit outside on sunny days to eat Turkish poached eggs on natural yoghurt with spiced butter, or maybe sweetcorn, jalapeno and coriander fritters with bacon and maple syrup.
01 529 8732
Forget the hipsterville reputation. Yes they flock to this industrial-chic space, weekdays with their Macbook Airs and weekends with their prams. But the come-all-ye welcome is constant, whenever you go. So is the permanent menu, supplemented by daily specials but always featuring an all-day breakfast. Don't miss the Fumbally Eggs (€5/€6.50), a one-dish summary of what this place is all about. The eggs are scrambled in olive oil with garlic and tomatoes 'cos that's the way Italian half-owner Luca likes 'em. They're served with Gubbeen cheese and an optional extra of hot-smoked Gubbeen ham, both sourced from co-owner Aisling's in-laws, Giana and Fingal Ferguson.
The Cake Café
01 478 9394
The Cake Café's suntrap of a courtyard is my favourite place to go on a sunny Saturday after a session of outdoor yoga in Dartmouth Square. The same menu features on Saturdays as during the rest of the week, and admittedly is more lunch than brunch, but the beans on toast make up for any limitation of choice. Made inhouse with cannelli beans in a tomato and sausage sauce, this is a brunch dish to set you up for the rest of the weekend. And if you hang around long enough, it'll be time for afternoon tea with a glass of prosecco (€12.50). Any excuse to try one of those humdinging cakes from the counter that earn this place its name.
7 Castle House,
(01) 425 40 52
I know it's not as traditional a brunch option as its surburban sister restaurant, Dillingers, but if kickass cocktails top your brunching criteria than I can think of no better place to send you than 777. I've been known to join the orderly queue that forms outside this place for its civilized Sunday opening hour of 2pm (making its bar-counter a good option if other places are booked out). These guys take the all-day-breakfast idea to an extreme, serving their breakfast taco of chorizo, eggs and salsa verde through to 10pm, when the kitchen closes and the DJ takes over. All dishes on the Seventh Day Sunday cost just €7.77, as do a couple of the cocktails.