Coffee counter culture
Cafe society has never been more in vogue, says Lucinda O’Sullivan. From high-end barista bars to greasy spoons with heaps of personality, everyone that’s anyone has a regular coffee spot nowadays
As we rolled over another humpback bridge, Brendan said tersely, “Is it Bridgetown or Brigadoon we’re in search of ?”
The satnav had led us on a bit of a merry dance, skirting shortcuts that would be familiar to locals, but I was on a mission to find Button & Spoon, a vintage-style tea room that a local foodie friend had told me about. “Why would people drive out here?”, Brendan persisted, as I patiently explained that people will go anywhere if the food is good, plus there’s the massive summertime business in the Rosslare/Kilmore Quay area. “Remember that place we had to drive through a field to get to?” In fact, Button & Spoon in Bridgetown, Co Wexford, has proved so popular that another branch has just opened in Wexford town, in the former Bean ’n’ Berry premises on Custom House Quay. Bridgetown was like a step back in time, with Button & Spoon located in what was the old village shop, believed to have been in operation since 1750. Next door is Red Books, and, across the street, The Hidden Gem gift shop, as well as the dinky looking Bridie’s shop and bar, and The Bargy Bar. Inside is as pretty as picture, with patterned china plates, comfortable seating, and myriad luscious cakes on display.
The lunch menu was excellent, and we kicked off by sharing chicken liver pate (€6.95); my only criticism would be that it was served in one of those tiny individual jam jars you see at breakfast. A bit sparse, even if we hadn’t shared it, and awkward to get at. However, it was more than made up for by a trio of big fluffy ‘tennis ball’ fishcakes (€14.95) complete with fries and sweet chilli sauce. Brendan had the special of the day, a hearty and tasty beef and onion pie (€12.95) washed down with a glass of Le Petit Pont Reserve (€5.50). Delightful service, delightful spot. See buttonandspoon.ie 12 Tables in Cork’s Douglas village, in the former Nakon Thai, is, according to their Facebook, a “Brooklyn-inspired neighbourhood
GRASS ROOF CAFE
The Organic Centre, Sraud, Rossinver, Co Leitrim. Tel: (083) 486-9497 .facebook.com/GrassRoofCafe Grab a table in the cafe for Aisling Stone’s delicious food. It’s a great way to taste the best of Leitrim and other artisan producers. Think salade Nicoise with Shine’s Killybegs albacore tuna; Gerry Treacy’s Manorhamilton bacon, or French onion soup with melting Coolea cheese. The menu changes. Price: €5-€15 Try: Sour chickpea curry with basmati rice, onion bhaji and naan, €12 Drinks: Wine, coffee
THE SUNSHINE CAFE
107 Lower George’s Street, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Tel: (01) 230-1828 thesunshinecafe.net Once home to the iconic 1980s Trudi’s Restaurant, where rock stars rocked and the racing fraternity got racy, the Sunshine Cafe is a hugely popular meeting spot for its range of Mediterranean casual foods at great prices. Choices include freshly made crepes; omelettes; ciabatta sambos; pastas and burgers. Price: €1.50-€11.50 Try: Chicken and potato hotpot au gratin with a side salad, €8.95 Drinks: Wine, coffee Just what we need when we’ve shopped till we drop — a chic in-store cafe serving excellent contemporary fare from Clodagh McKenna. Her new spring menu has just been launched, and it still retains her signature chicken liver pate, as well as omelettes, chowder and Dingle crab cakes. Price: €7-€19 Try: Wild garlic roast chicken with spring minted pea risotto, €16.50 Drinks: Coffee, wine restaurant and coffee house, featuring a rustic, seasonally inspired menu, killer coffee and serious bunnage”. We wheeled up recently for breakfast and, while we appreciated the cementfloor vibe, the retro vintage-chic sofas and tiny school chairs, from our experience, the food could certainly ‘do better’! A delightful young man brought me an orange juice (€2.50), but what a difference it would have made if it had been fresh orange juice, even if a smaller glass. A place can be as hipstery retro as it likes, but I don’t want to eat food off battered ‘vintage’ boards, no matter how well scrubbed they are — the one presented to me needed to be binned. The Breakfast Bap (€8) of smoked bacon, apple sausage, free-range egg and cheese, was, thankfully, wrapped in greaseproof paper, but it was a lukewarm mess. The teardrop-shaped poached egg smacked of the par-cooked variety — smathered in unbilled and unrequested chutney. I wrapped it up again and abandoned it. Brendan didn’t fare any better with a bacon frittata (€8.50), a dense, dry slice with a few leaves and more chutney. There needs to be more than “bunnage”. See facebook.com/12tablescork The French Quarter Cafe in the Excell Centre in Tipperary had a distinct theatrical vibe, which we loved. Packed and buzzy with interesting-looking people, it was also amazing value, with a big array of tarts and cakes, including lemon meringue pie, pear tart, quiches, salads, ciabatta, bagels, and sandwich specials. I shared a delicious panini with Brendan; it was lavishly filled with ham and oozing mouthwatering Brie (€6.50), and with which, for €1 extra, I had a divine, creamy gluten-free cauliflower soup, while he had an Americano (€2).
A winner alright! See facebook.com/ French-Quarter-Cafe-Tipperary