What should we know about Russell Street Bakery?
It's just opened right next to Croke Park, in the space that formerly housed Rossa Crowe's 'The Lady From Shanghai' bakery (he closed it after developing a gluten intolerance). The space has been taken over by Thibault Peigne, whose organic bakery Tartine started off small, but now as well as supplying bread to some of the city's top restaurants, you can find their loaves stocked in supermarkets from Dunnes Stores to Donnybrook Fair. This neighbourhood bakery is his attempt to bring it back to where it all started, and showcase his baking skills with no commercial constraints.
They open from Tuesday - Saturday, selling freshly baked breads, pastries, cakes and foccacia, as well as tea and coffee, and some organic dairy products.
What's the menu like?
The bread, pastry and cake selection will change daily, but expect to find the butteriest croissants, pain au chocolats, almond croissants, Pain Suisse and danishes, as well as seasonal specials depending on the month.
Every pastry we tried was tears in your eyes good. This is old school French baking, and while there's definitely a time and place for stuffed up, over the top pastry creations, this is flour, butter, time and love, and will make it very clear why the classics became classics in the first place. The crispy outsides and buttery insides leave you in no doubt about how fresh everything is, and there's always something that's just out of the oven.
For breads there's sourdough, baguettes, brioche loaves and buns, lavash and foccacia. We took home a seeded sourdough, a brioche loaf and a lavash (a very high water content bread from the Middle East), and all were perfection. It's really hard to find good, freshly baked brioche so don't skip that one, and the lavash was so chewy and deeply flavoured, ideal with soup later that day.
We were lucky enough to arrive as a fresh slab of foccacia was being cut into chunky squares, and with sun-blushed tomatoes, goat's cheese and basil, it was one of the best we've had in recent memory, dense and chewy with just the right amount of oil.
There's also a dessert case up front which had madeleines, bakewell tart, chocolate tart, brownies and more. Leave here without spending a small fortune and we'll be impressed at your restraint. The only downside is a lot of what we bought was given to us in plastic (they're hoping to find a recyclable solution but are not there yet), so bring your own bags if you can.
What is there to drink?
Coffee is from Imbibe and was made beautifully. There's also tea, chai and matcha, as well as kombucha, juice and other soft drinks in the fridge.
Is there seating?
Unfortunately not, you'll have to take your purchases and sit outside, or head on home to enjoy.
Why should I go?
Every so often we get a message from a French person or someone who's spent time there asking where they can get really good French style pastries. They don't want OTT croissant specials, cruffins, or gimmicky hybrids - they just want croissants, pain au chocolats and really great bread, just like you'd find in the best French bakeries. From now on our response will be "head for Russell Street Bakery". Any homesickness will be lifted on entry.
Russell Street Bakery
Unit 2, Behan Square, Russell Street, Dublin 1