The bakehouse is pretty, retro and serves great cakes and pastries but meals are hit and miss
RETRO is the movement of the moment -- old-fashioned sweet shops are back on the high streets, '70s furniture is back in style and the Dublin Flea Market is as busy as Dundrum Shopping Centre used to be on any given Saturday back in 2007.
The Bakehouse on Bachelor's Walk near the Ha'penny Bridge is part of this retro movement and proud of it: "We want to remind Dublin of the traditional foods and breads of our parents and grandparents," says their website.
The menu has homemade cakes and breads, gurr cake and coddle, soups, pies and baked potatoes.
Inside the cosy room there are rolling pins along the wall and lots of pink (a retro colour if ever there was one).
I was meeting Elisabeth Ryan of Sheridans Cheesemongers, who ran the recent campaign to stop the idiotic proposed ban on raw milk (which most of our grandparents were reared on, incidentally). Both of us had high hopes for a retro immersion while we caught up on some foodie gossip.
The drinks list is short with some good wines (including our bottle of Marques de Riscal Rueda), but sadly there is no sense of the homemade ethos that is found in the rest of the menu -- no lemonade or cordials and the sparkling water was the utterly unremarkable Deep River Rock (produced by Coca Cola).
At the suggestion of our charming waitress, we merged our cheese and meat board starters which we found under the 'Nibbles' section of the menu. The cheese and cooked meats arrived with a selection of good homemade chutneys and relishes and Bakehouse bread on a large board.
The cheesemonger was hoping for cured meats and expressed disappointment, but I liked the retro taste of cold sliced ham, chicken and corned beef served with excellent freshly made bread.
Sadly the cheese was less successful -- there was some inoffensive Brie, some bland Cheddar and some unremarkable blue cheese (we were told it was Cashel Blue, but it was not in good condition).
Pies are one of the specialities of the house so I had high hopes for the beef and Guinness pie (€9.50). The stew under my puff pastry crust was rather thinner than I would like and had a sweet and rather strange over-herbed flavour which neither of us was keen on. The pie came with some baked potato wedges which were bland and under-seasoned.
I should mention that I ate all the pie (except the potatoes), but then hunger makes good sauce as my granny used to say.
The cheesemonger's choice of slow-cooked pork belly on toast was infinitely better -- the pork was melting, the crackling was sweet and crunchy and the salad lifted the flavours nicely.
For dessert the 'apple fancy' was a beautifully light sponge topped with stewed apple and a cherry, and the carrot cake was moist and tasty.
With a few tweaks to the menu and the replacement of branded cheeses with better quality farmhouse cheese, Bakehouse could be very, very good given the quality of their bread and cakes. I will be back for sandwiches, tea and cakes, but probably not for dinner.