Mad Yolks - The Expert Egg Slingers Come To Smithfield
Lisa Cope - 20th April 2022
What’s the story?
We have a serious soft spot for those people doing one thing and doing it really well - what food writers Sally & John McKenna recently called "micro-specific cooking". Who wants to be faced with a menu spanning five countries, numerous "global influences", and 30 different dishes? Never, ever us. So Mad Yolks, whole sole reason for opening their doors each day is egg sandwiches, appeals to the tortured part of our brain that struggles with menu decisions - food envy and ordering regret are all too real.
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Dublin brothers Hugh and Eoin O'Reilly started "slinging out some of the finest eggs known to man" in 2018, operating out of a food truck at festivals and markets. Since then they've had various pop-up homes including The Fourth Corner in Dublin 8, and Eagle House in Glasthule, but they were always on the lookout for a place to call home, and in January they announced they'd found it, in Smithfield Square. At the start of March the doors officially opened, and Dublin had itself a new brunch spot (and don't we need more of those).
Where should we sit?
It's a bit of a canteen vibe, clearly meant for quick eating, and you can pick between counter seats, low tables, or a couple of outdoor tables, which will be prime brunch real estate over summer. They could really do with getting a few more of them, because an egg sandwich has never tasted as good as when the sun's shining down on it.
What's the food like?
First and most importantly, the eggs are free-range - currently from Ballon in Carlow - otherwise the appeal factor would have dropped to a solid zero. The menu features five egg sandwiches, a burger and a veggie burger (both with eggs too), as well as sides including nachos, halloumi fries and hash browns.
We'd seen their nachos con carnage on the 'gram and thought about little else for the week, so were very pleased to be acquainted in person. Crunchy nachos, nicely flavoured chile con carne, melted cheese, the most perfectly fried egg, sriracha mayo, chillies and spring onions would do much to help a Sunday morning hangover. It's also a nicely petite portion in comparison to the mounds of muck seen in bars / themed eateries / Italian restaurants across the city, so you can easily justify it as a side for one.
Next the 'Fresh Yolk', and possibly our favourite, with two fried eggs (yolks still beautifully oozy), avocado, feta cheese, chilli flakes, rocket & dijionnaise. Mustard/mayo combinations always conjure up great burger memories, and with the buttery avocado, tangy feta and peppery rocket, it was about as fresh tasting as fried eggs on brioche could get.
Halloumi fries were lightly breaded, fried until just golden, and had the texture of cheesy marshmallows - not a squeak in sight. The harissa mayo was lovely and lemony, with the tiniest kick of spice, and was a nicely lively accompaniment for dipping
We looooove a hash brown so were gutted that they didn't have either the regular or smokin' versions when we visited, and we can't even find a picture of them online, so if you go and have them please send us a pic so we can see what we missed.
Then onto the reason why we were here, the egg sandwiches. We tried the classic 'Mad Yolk', the 'Fresh Yolk' and the 'Bad Yolk'. They all come on toasted brioche, and the Mad Yolk is the only one with scrambled eggs, the rest have fried. That scrambled egg is cooked with fresh chilli & chives, and topped with caramelised onion, applewood cheddar, rocket & sriracha mayo, and it held together remarkably well, despite the eggs not being remotely overcooked. They clearly have this down to a fine art, and an Egg McMuffin ain't got nothing on it.
Lastly the 'Bad Yolk'. This is one for the person who always orders the 'Full Irish' when they're out for breakfast (this is not us). As well as those two perfect fried eggs, there's smashed black pudding, streaky bacon, beef tomato, applewood cheddar, rocket & homemade tomato relish.
Non crispy bacon is a pox upon the earth, and unfortunately this one was more chewy and fatty than crunchy - grilling bacon is the only way to cook it and we shall hear no arguments on this matt. We didn't think the black pudding added much, and overall it felt a lot heavier than the two that came before - we'd only recommend this to big fans of breakfast meat, for whom breakfast is not breakfast without pork.
There's no dessert here, and we think they're missing a trick - one simple offering done really well would be hard to resist. However, home of some of the best pastry in Ireland is a two minute walk away, so if in need of something sweet head for Proper Order to get your hands on No Messin's finest.
The cult Smithfield café opens seven days a week, selling cakes and pastries from their offshoot little sister, run by baker Hilary Quinn. This stuff is so good we've been known to gasp, and we've never had anything that's been less than pastry perfection - and we've tried a lot.
The Cardi-Bs (cardamom buns) are the stuff of sticky, spiced dreams, the Double Chocolate Frankies have more chocolate than we thought was possible to get into a pastry, and the choux buns are a lesson in how to do it - but just go with your gut, and pick up a blood orange curd for home.
What about the drinks?
Alcohol wise it's strangely limited to prosecco, either straight, in a Mimosa with freshly squeezed orange juice, or in an Aperol Spritz. We tried a Mimosa but it was flat as a dosa (see last week's review), and after some questioning found out that the bottle had been opened the day before and they had no more prosecco. Disaster. We thought they'd said they'd take it off the bill, but when it arrived it was still on there - a coffee had been taken off though.
The freshly squeezed orange juice was excellent, as was the coffee from Full Circle, and there are soft drinks in the fridge inside.
And the service?
Really, really lovely. Loads of smiles, couldn't do enough for us, laid back but clearly taking things seriously. Fast casual, but with proper Irish hospitality. You don't often get it.
And the damage?
€57.50, which felt like very good value for money, particularly with prices rising all over the place.
Anything else we should know?
It's right next to The Generator Tower, which has some of the most spectacular views across the city in every direction. Entry is only €5, and it's 259 steps to the top - if it's a clear day don't miss it.
It's easy to see why Mad Yolks have built a dedicated following. What they're doing looks disarmingly simple, but it's depressingly easy to over or undercook eggs, or place them in flavour combinations that you could beat in your own kitchen. These guys take the egg game very seriously, slinging them out with style, and we'd be surprised if there aren't more Mad Yolks on the way. In the meantime get in here and enjoy Dublin's newest brunch spot - hangovers optional.
Unit 4, Block C, Smithfield, Dublin 7