Urbun Cafe Old Bray Road, Cabinteely Dublin 18 01-2848872 urbun.ie
Cabinteely has the feel of a rural village, complete with the stone walls of the beautiful Cabinteely Park leading into the village and a quaint Garda station at its crossroads. Despite its sleepy and pleasantly provincial feel, it’s just off the N11 and a mere 25-minute drive from Dublin’s city centre. It’s a deceptively urban spot.
Urbun Cafe opened its doors in Cabinteely village in February 2011. It’s housed in a retail space below a modern block of apartments just a couple storeys high, a typical tail-end Celtic Tiger development that lay empty for a few years after the crash. “It had been empty for two years when we found it,” says Katie Gilroy, founder and owner of Urbun Cafe.
Gilroy opened Urbun with her then business partner Niamh Browne. They had already been trading under the Urbun name in their market stall, selling baked goods at farmers’ markets around the city. They jumped at the chance to move into the space, which was an empty shell at the time. “We did the bare minimum to the decor,” Gilroy recalls. “We polished the concrete floor and our budget only allowed us to build very minimalist wooden tables. It turns out that the aesthetic was kind of trendy, but that was unintentional.”
It’s busy on the autumnal Sunday I visit, with plates piled high with pancakes, eggs and breakfast baps (pictured) leaving the kitchen to soothe the heads of gathered locals. “The food is simple but we are discerning about good quality ingredients and using local suppliers,” says Gilroy.
Chef Olga Tkacova leads the kitchen team in making their own soda bread, brownies and lemon drizzle cakes, which line the cake bar. Their fluffy, crusty white bread is from Gran Clarke’s Bakery in Kilcoole, Co Wicklow, while their sourdough is from Arun Bakery in Smithfield, Co Dublin. Their eggs are from free-range chickens in north Wicklow, and they sell them by the half dozen in the cafe. Their sausages are from Donal Hick in Dalkey and their free-range chicken is from John’s Meat Co. in Monkstown.
That free-range chicken is put to good use in their Chicken Sambo of the MoMo (¤6.50), a sandwich that changes weekly. This week, it’s a take on the classic Ploughman’s, with shredded pieces of roast chicken paired with pickles, cheese and relish sandwiched between two thickly cut, heavenly soft slices of white bread.
The same marvellous bread is used in the classic BLT (¤6.50), and all the elements are brought together to create a deeply comforting version of this old favourite. A butternut squash soup (¤5.50) is elevated with some fragrant curry spices, warding off the autumnal chill.
Urbun care about their coffee, and their relationship with Cork-based coffee roasters Badger & Dodo dates back to their days on the farmers’ market circuit, when they were stall neighbours with Brock Lewin of Badger & Dodo. Urbun’s barista Ciaran McCarthy knows what he’s at, and our flat whites (¤2.70 each) are transcendent.
The seasonal berry on top of Urbun Cafe is Cabinteely Park, and we grab our sandwiches and soup to go. The Park is just a few minutes walk from Urbun, and its 45 hectares includes vast lawns speckled with contemporary sculptures and tree-lined trails winding along the walls at the outskirts. There’s a beautiful L-shaped Georgian house at the heart of it, built in the 1760s for Robert Nugent, also known as Lord Clare. Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council’s youth art centre, The Grainstore (dlrgrainstore.ie), is located at the back of the house.
Urbun Cafe is about a 20minute walk from the Laughanstown Luas stop, and the 84 and 145 buses get you close to Cabinteely Village. Even without making a visit to the park, it’s worth the trip.