375 North Circular Road Dublin 7
“Where in Dublin are the most lies told?” was a riddle a friend questioned me with recently. “Fib...fibbers….Phibsborough!” I shouted, as I worked it out aloud. Well, when it comes to Two Boys Brew, the latest cafe to open in this northside borough, barely a 15-minute walk from Parnell Street, I can honestly say it’s one of the most promising new cafes to open in the city in the last year.
Kevin Roche and Taurean Coughlan are the two boys in question, and they opened up shop on the North Circular Road in July, almost eight weeks exactly before I make my first visit. Roche and Coughlan lived in Melbourne for over four years, and fell in love with the coffee culture over there, a culture that has been hugely influential in the recent growth of the Irish coffee scene. “We used to go to a different place for brunch every weekend,” explains Roche of Melbourne life.
They moved home in Christmas 2014, and were pleasantly surprised to find that the coffee culture here was a vibrant area of growth in the city. Roche, who has a background in construction and design, decided to commit to a long-term dream of opening up a cafe, and got a job with the Brother Hubbard family, becoming a manager of Sister Sadie’s on Harrington Street. Meanwhile, Coughlan worked in Joe’s Coffee, both of them learning about the behind-the- scenes processes and realities of running a cafe.
Coughlan has a background in media, which explains the cafe’s well-curated output on social media and the copies of arts and culture magazine Love lying around the cafe. The interiors of this beautiful space were designed in collaboration with Terry Design from Portadown, the team also responsible for Established Coffee in Belfast. Roche’s background in construction and design comes into play here, and the space has a natural flow that makes it a welcoming place to converse and work in.
In the kitchen is Jane McGuinness, who has worked previously in Pichet’s and Marcel’s. “We had our dream menu created, based on dishes we had eaten in Berlin, Copenhagen and of course Melbourne,” explains Roche. “We just needed someone to make our dish wishlist a reality.”
They have certainly found that in McGuinness. My Brew Baked Eggs (¤10.95) are a perfectly balanced cast-iron pot of oozy yolk and spicy peperonata, a red pepper heavy tomato sauce, laced with dollops of soft, tangy, goat cheese. I get some chorizo on the side (an additional ¤2.95), imported from Spain.
The free-range eggs are from O’Eggs in Co Meath, and they’re an important ingredient for Roche and Coughlan.
“Most of our menu includes eggs,” says Roche, and indeed their all day brunch is fast becoming a favourite in the city. They offer brunch all day, every day, but that’s not to take away from their regular lunch menu, served from noon every day, which includes some super looking salads, with a Middle Eastern influence, and soups and sandwiches that take old favourites, like a roasted chicken and stuffing sambo, and make them exciting.
I get a batch brew filter of a 3FE blend (¤2.70), which is a speedy way of getting my filter fix. To get the most out of the cafe’s current guest roaster, St Ali from Melbourne, I choose the Kalita filter (¤3.95), which is a pour-over jug. There some devilish-looking sweet treats on offer too, including a ricotta and raspberry gluten-free cupcake, which is pleasantly light and not as gluttonous as its beguiling appearance suggests. Thumbs up.
Roche and Coughlan had been very close to taking a premises on Francis St, and when that fell through they were gutted, according to Roche. It was a while later when the space in Phibsborough came up and Roche can see now, eight weeks in, that it has all worked out for the best. They have been packed since they opened.
Roche name-checks the neighbourhood institution, Woodstock Cafe, which is located around the corner and has been in business for over 20 years. “There is even more space for new cafes in Phibsborough,” says Roche. “Since we opened, more and more locals keep coming out of the woodwork and visiting us. It feels like it’s a neighbourhood on the up.”