There's a bit of a café vibe going on this week - must be summer in the air and the need for salads and outside seating. In The Irish Times Catherine Cleary reckons she might have found the two best cafés in Dublin, after visits to Cloud Picker and Bread 41, both on Pearse Street. In Cloud Picker she found salads that "deserve a bit of time", including sweet potato, sheep's yoghurt and rayu, and lemony aubergine with bulgar wheat, walnuts and cranberries. A seasalt caramel square and paleo ginger cake did exactly what they should, and coffee was "great".
She calls neighbours Bread 41 "a beautiful operation", making "delicious sourdough breads and dangerously huge morning buns". A Thai noodle salad and chicken banh mi were "delicious" and "gorgeous", with the sandwich doused in a house fermented hot sauce with pickled carrots and roasted peanuts. She says she loves both cafés for "their food and their philosophy", and that they're making Dublin "better from the inside out". Read her duo review here.
In the Irish Independent, Katy McGuinness is the latest person to fall in love with Argentinean café Alma on the South Circular Road, calling it "a small restaurant with big personality". A salad bowl of sautéed kale, spiced chickpeas, pickled onions and carrots topped with soft-poached eggs in an anchovy and tahini dressing was "filling and tasty", while a loaded batata (whole grilled sweet potato) with Argentinian sausage ragu, fresh peas, spiced nuts, herbs, leaves and lime sour cream had flavours and textures that were "spot on".
Tomato, red pepper, basil and Parmesan soup was "delicious", banana and pistachio bread with dulce de leche needed more caramel but was still good, and she thought the coconut and raspberry dark chocolate bounty bar gave vegan desserts a good rep. She found the service as charming as everyone else who's walked through the door, and says she loves it, giving the food 8/10 and the ambience 10/10. Read her review here.
In the Irish Daily Mail Tom Doorley was also swooning, this time for Frank's, (who have yet to have a negative word said about them), calling it "a cracker of a new restaurant". Some of the swoon-worthy dishes included watermelon, cucumber, almond and herbs - "delicious ... a very happy combination of textures and herbs" - and ripe nectarine with ricotta, brown butter and shortbread crumbs - "one of the simplest and best things I've had in ages". He says Frank's is "not just brilliant, but generous almost to a fault". (Review not currently online)
In the Sunday Business Post Gillian Nelis was feeling all the good vibes at Tiller + Grain on South Frederick Street, who she says are making business green in "the right way". Salads, meat and fish, including rare beef and broccoli cooked on a Big Green Egg were "far removed" from most others in the city, and carrot cake was "divine", with a polenta and lemon curd muffin so light and fresh that it tasted almost healthy. She says that Tiller + Grain "injected plenty of sunshine and good vibes" into her day, and that if there was ever a café to prove that eating well and sustainably isn't a chore, this is it. Read her review here.
In the Sunday Independent Lucinda O'Sullivan's on her annual reviewing hiatus, instead giving us various round ups, this week of the best food trucks and trailers in the country. Making the grade in Dublin are Container Coffee, Eat My Veg, Happy Out, Lala Poutine, The Market Kitchen, The Taco Truck and Vietnom, and from what we're hearing Órale Street Food in Stoneybatter should probably be added to that list. (Not currently online)
In the Irish Examiner Joe McNamee calls OHK Café in Kinsale one of his "new most favourite places in the world to eat", which seems marginally more for the atmosphere (which he gave 10/10 for) than the food (8/10). Despite the menu being "top heavy" with sandwiches and salads, a mozzarella, pesto and tomato toastie and a "sublime" Spanish tortilla made up a "champion brunch", that he'd "travel the length of the country" to eat again. Read his review here.
Finally in the Sunday Times it's Niall Toner again, and if there was ever an argument that food critics should be people who know and understand food, it's the depressing lack of descriptors in this review of Oliver Dunne's revamped gastropub The Donnybrook. He doesn't have a whole lot to say (and admits as much), other than it wasn't very exciting, and gives it 2.5/5. Read his review here.
More next week.