Cof­fee counter cul­ture

Cafe so­ci­ety has never been more in vogue, says Lucinda O’Sul­li­van. From high-end barista bars to greasy spoons with heaps of per­son­al­ity, ev­ery­one that’s any­one has a reg­u­lar cof­fee spot nowa­days

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - KERRY GOLD -

As we rolled over an­other hump­back bridge, Bren­dan said tersely, “Is it Bridgetown or Bri­gadoon we’re in search of ?”

The sat­nav had led us on a bit of a merry dance, skirt­ing short­cuts that would be fa­mil­iar to lo­cals, but I was on a mis­sion to find But­ton & Spoon, a vin­tage-style tea room that a lo­cal foodie friend had told me about. “Why would peo­ple drive out here?”, Bren­dan per­sisted, as I pa­tiently ex­plained that peo­ple will go any­where if the food is good, plus there’s the mas­sive sum­mer­time busi­ness in the Ross­lare/Kil­more Quay area. “Re­mem­ber that place we had to drive through a field to get to?” In fact, But­ton & Spoon in Bridgetown, Co Wex­ford, has proved so pop­u­lar that an­other branch has just opened in Wex­ford town, in the for­mer Bean ’n’ Berry premises on Cus­tom House Quay. Bridgetown was like a step back in time, with But­ton & Spoon lo­cated in what was the old vil­lage shop, be­lieved to have been in op­er­a­tion since 1750. Next door is Red Books, and, across the street, The Hid­den Gem gift shop, as well as the dinky look­ing Bri­die’s shop and bar, and The Bargy Bar. In­side is as pretty as pic­ture, with pat­terned china plates, com­fort­able seat­ing, and myr­iad lus­cious cakes on dis­play.

The lunch menu was ex­cel­lent, and we kicked off by shar­ing chicken liver pate (€6.95); my only crit­i­cism would be that it was served in one of those tiny in­di­vid­ual jam jars you see at break­fast. A bit sparse, even if we hadn’t shared it, and awk­ward to get at. How­ever, it was more than made up for by a trio of big fluffy ‘ten­nis ball’ fish­cakes (€14.95) com­plete with fries and sweet chilli sauce. Bren­dan had the spe­cial of the day, a hearty and tasty beef and onion pie (€12.95) washed down with a glass of Le Petit Pont Re­serve (€5.50). De­light­ful ser­vice, de­light­ful spot. See but­to­nand­spoon.ie 12 Ta­bles in Cork’s Dou­glas vil­lage, in the for­mer Nakon Thai, is, ac­cord­ing to their Face­book, a “Brook­lyn-in­spired neigh­bour­hood

GRASS ROOF CAFE

The Or­ganic Cen­tre, Sraud, Ross­in­ver, Co Leitrim. Tel: (083) 486-9497 .face­book.com/GrassRoofCafe Grab a ta­ble in the cafe for Ais­ling Stone’s de­li­cious food. It’s a great way to taste the best of Leitrim and other ar­ti­san pro­duc­ers. Think salade Ni­coise with Shine’s Killy­begs al­ba­core tuna; Gerry Treacy’s Manorhamil­ton ba­con, or French onion soup with melt­ing Coolea cheese. The menu changes. Price: €5-€15 Try: Sour chick­pea curry with bas­mati rice, onion bhaji and naan, €12 Drinks: Wine, cof­fee

THE SUN­SHINE CAFE

107 Lower Ge­orge’s Street, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Tel: (01) 230-1828 the­sun­shinecafe.net Once home to the iconic 1980s Trudi’s Restau­rant, where rock stars rocked and the rac­ing fra­ter­nity got racy, the Sun­shine Cafe is a hugely pop­u­lar meet­ing spot for its range of Mediter­ranean ca­sual foods at great prices. Choices in­clude freshly made crepes; omelettes; cia­batta sam­bos; pas­tas and burg­ers. Price: €1.50-€11.50 Try: Chicken and potato hot­pot au gratin with a side salad, €8.95 Drinks: Wine, cof­fee Just what we need when we’ve shopped till we drop — a chic in-store cafe serv­ing ex­cel­lent con­tem­po­rary fare from Clodagh McKenna. Her new spring menu has just been launched, and it still re­tains her sig­na­ture chicken liver pate, as well as omelettes, chow­der and Din­gle crab cakes. Price: €7-€19 Try: Wild gar­lic roast chicken with spring minted pea risotto, €16.50 Drinks: Cof­fee, wine restau­rant and cof­fee house, fea­tur­ing a rus­tic, sea­son­ally in­spired menu, killer cof­fee and se­ri­ous bun­nage”. We wheeled up re­cently for break­fast and, while we ap­pre­ci­ated the ce­ment­floor vibe, the retro vin­tage-chic so­fas and tiny school chairs, from our ex­pe­ri­ence, the food could cer­tainly ‘do bet­ter’! A de­light­ful young man brought me an or­ange juice (€2.50), but what a dif­fer­ence it would have made if it had been fresh or­ange juice, even if a smaller glass. A place can be as hip­stery retro as it likes, but I don’t want to eat food off bat­tered ‘vin­tage’ boards, no mat­ter how well scrubbed they are — the one pre­sented to me needed to be binned. The Break­fast Bap (€8) of smoked ba­con, ap­ple sausage, free-range egg and cheese, was, thank­fully, wrapped in grease­proof pa­per, but it was a luke­warm mess. The teardrop-shaped poached egg smacked of the par-cooked va­ri­ety — smath­ered in un­billed and un­re­quested chut­ney. I wrapped it up again and aban­doned it. Bren­dan didn’t fare any bet­ter with a ba­con frittata (€8.50), a dense, dry slice with a few leaves and more chut­ney. There needs to be more than “bun­nage”. See face­book.com/12ta­ble­scork The French Quar­ter Cafe in the Ex­cell Cen­tre in Tip­per­ary had a dis­tinct the­atri­cal vibe, which we loved. Packed and buzzy with in­ter­est­ing-look­ing peo­ple, it was also amaz­ing value, with a big ar­ray of tarts and cakes, in­clud­ing lemon meringue pie, pear tart, quiches, sal­ads, cia­batta, bagels, and sand­wich spe­cials. I shared a de­li­cious panini with Bren­dan; it was lav­ishly filled with ham and ooz­ing mouth­wa­ter­ing Brie (€6.50), and with which, for €1 ex­tra, I had a divine, creamy gluten-free cau­li­flower soup, while he had an Amer­i­cano (€2).

A win­ner al­right! See face­book.com/ French-Quar­ter-Cafe-Tip­per­ary

frangi­pane lu­cin­dao­sul­li­van.com

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