A se­lec­tion of the best cafes, restau­rants and din­ing spots around the coun­try

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - EATING OUT - AMcE

Lit­tle Bird Café

82 South Cir­cu­lar Road Por­to­bello ,Dublin 8 lit­tle-bird.ie €

There’s a new cof­fee shop in my neigh­bour­hood and I’m find­ing it hard to grasp its con­cept. The Lit­tle Bird Café is on a cor­ner of the South Cir­cu­lar Road in Por­to­bello. The side of its build­ing is plas­tered with a gi­ant poster of a car­toon fig­ure do­ing yoga poses and bal­anc­ing cof­fee cups. It says “Yoga for Cof­fee Lovers”.

The Lit­tle Bird Café is the re­cep­tion area for the Lit­tle Bird yoga stu­dio in the back of the build­ing. In a de­scrip­tion of the café on a Dublin yoga web­site, I read the phrase “cool, calm and caf­feinated” in ref­er­ence to Lit­tle Bird. That’s when it hits me why I’m strug­gling with the yoga/cof­fee pair­ing; I as­so­ciate cof­fee with dead­lines and adrenalin, not with be­ing calm and bliss­ful. Also, I don’t prac­tice yoga so will I feel like a squishy, un­flex­i­ble dum­dum if I or­der a cof­fee here?

Of course, I am be­ing silly and judg­men­tal, and I’m pleas­antly sur­prised when I walk into Lit­tle Bird Café. I find a sleek, mar­ble-coun­tered space with Badger & Dodo cof­fee and a sim­ple, ac­ces­si­ble menu. Ev­ery­thing is baked in-house, in­clud­ing the scones and crunchy salted chocolate chip cook­ies (¤1.80). I’m too early for lunch, which starts at noon and fea­tures sal­ads and sand­wiches, in­clud­ing porchetta and smoked trout. In­stead, I go for a savoury break­fast of Tar­tine Bak­ery toast with smashed av­o­cado and feta (¤5). The av­o­cado is lightly spiced with chilli but over­all it lacks sea­son­ing. How­ever, I’m given salt and pep­per along­side the dish to ad­just the salt lev­els my­self. The cof­fee could be im­proved upon; Badger & Dodo is a great brand and it’s by no means badly brewed but my flat white (¤2.80) doesn’t have the strength or tex­ture I’d like. My expectations are high. Af­ter all, it’s been ad­ver­tised as cof­fee and yoga, so the cof­fee bet­ter be top notch. It’s nearly there but could be im­proved.

The ser­vice is what makes the ex­pe­ri­ence. I get a bash­ful but friendly smile from the barista and the girl who takes my or­der at the counter an­swers my mul­ti­tude of ques­tions with good grace. “Do I need to do yoga to buy a cof­fee here?” No. “Do you bake ev­ery­thing here?” Yes. “How long have you been open?” Two weeks. There is also free WiFi, which sur­prises me. That’s when I re­alise that I really don’t know any­thing about peo­ple who do yoga and ob­vi­ously have the com­pletely wrong idea about what a café linked to a yoga stu­dio would be like. It’s ridicu­lous in hind­sight but I was ex­pect­ing lentils and burn­ing in­cense. Shame on me.

The Lit­tle Bird Café is a wel­come ad­di­tion to the neigh­bour­hood, and is a sweet lit­tle spot, even with­out the yoga an­gle. You don’t have to prac­tice yoga to eat or drink here, but you might just think about join­ing one of their classes the next time you’re in for their tem­pered car­rot salad with black mus­tard seeds and lemon, topped with roast car­rot hum­mus. Ev­ery­one is wel­come.

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