155b Rathgar Road, Dublin 6 fia.ie Fia Café is the brainchild of friends and business partners Alan and Derek. In the early assembling of the Fia Café team, Roasted Brown lent the café their barista Johnny Northcutt, who is making the impeccable brews (¤3 for a flat white) with Roasted Brown beans the day I visit.
My lunch is Peas on Toast (¤8), a dish that unapologetically makes use of the goodness in frozen peas by topping toasted sourdough with plenty of them, and covering them with chunks of McCarthy’s tremendous black pudding. A softly fried egg sits atop, a sprinkling of herb salt making it all the more interesting.
There are four breakfast dishes (served from 9am to noon) and three lunch dishes (served from noon to 4pm). Two daily specials afe offered as a way to trial dishes for weekend brunch menu. Rather than a soup, offers a more substantial broth-based hotpot (¤7) is offered.
The Filo Pie (¤10) is a mix of sizeable spinach leaves from McNally’s Family Farm, lightly steamed, and parcelled into sheets of filo alongside bay leaves, rosemary, dill seeds, mint, dill, Greek feta from Lilliput Stores in Stoneybatter and eggs. It’s a satisfying take on the classic spanakopita. The menu will change regularly, and will be influenced by what suppliers can offer.
Visit on Tuesday to Friday from 7.30am to 4pm, and Saturday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm.
Meet Me in the Morning
50 Pleasants Street Dublin 8 facebook.com/ meetmeinthemorning Opened by Brian O’Keefe on April 15th, Meet Me In The Morning’s clear, unpretentious identity already feels fully formed within a month of opening. He has brought his coffee ardour to his café, and my flat white (¤3.50) is flawless and flavourful. O’Keeffe has plans to rotate between an Irish and an international roaster. When I visit, he’s using beans from Hexagone Café, roasted in rural France by Stéphane Cataldi, who provided O’Keeffe with his beans when he competed in the Brewers’ Cup, on both the Irish and world stage.
In the kitchen, Fiona Hallinan is an astute artist as well as being a skilled cook. Hallinan is greatly influenced by the visual beauty of food, and her recipes are inspired by her travels to places such as Beirut and India. Her Nut Eile (¤5) is based on a friend’s recipe of roasted hazelnuts blitzed and coco-ed up with raw cacao. It’s served sprinkled with sea salt and slathered onto toasted slices of Le Levain sourdough. The honey on the side is from O’Keeffe’s father’s hives in Roscommon. Her bowl of egg and greens (¤7) accomplishes breakfast transcendence. The egg is just cooked so that it runs gloriously into the rainbow chard and sorrel, supplied by Christie Stapleton from the nearby Green Door Market.
There are also spring onions, sweetened through frying. A dollop of garlic yogurt melds with drops of paprika and chilli oil that is evocative of chorizo while maintaining this dish’s vegetarian credentials. There are just a handful of dishes every day, with an emphasis on produce, simplistic beauty, and above all, taste.
The name is special, too, taken from Bob Dylan’s song. “The name is an invitation for two people to meet in the morning. I wanted this café to be a social place, not a place for laptops.” There is currently no Wifi for customers, and it doesn’t sound like O’Keeffe has plans to offer it in the future.
This space is simple and serene, tempting and engaging. There are some truly captivating tastes being served up here, from the coffee bar to the kitchen. Taste the flavours for yourself from 9am to 5pm, Tuesday to Friday, and 10am to 5pm on Saturdays.
14b Emorville Avenue, off Clanbrassil St, Dublin 8 01-4547421 bibis.ie ¤ Opened in 2010 by sisters Petria and Maisha Lenehan, Bibi’s is a secret stalwart on the Dublin lunch scene. Petria has since moved on to New York where her fashion business is now based (though her clothes are still made in Dublin), and the entire space on the corner of Emorville Avenue is now dedicated to Maisha and her brother Geoff’s cooking.
Over a recent lunch, I was wowed by a simple plate of roasted butternut squash and poached eggs (¤10), drizzled in a chilli-infused butter.
It’s the subtle flourishes, such as a simple flavoured and melted butter, that elevate a dish from good to great. A chorizo toastie (¤8.50) is deliciously greasy from being pan-fried, a crisp and elegantly dressed salad on the side going some way to making up for the naughtiness.
It’s a special spot, and one that’s probably on your Best Of list already. But, just in case it’s been a while since your last visit to Bibi’s, you’ll find them open every day of the week, from 9am to 4pm on weekdays and 10am to 5pm on weekends.