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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.