A Review of Three Dublin Brunch Eateries
Updated: May 14, 2020
So, of late, I've found myself brunching a lot. I like to say "brunching" as if it is some kind of active thing. "Oh sorry, I can't, I have brunching on Sunday" or "oh dear, I'll be brunching right about then", the same way other (more active) people talk about football or tag rugby*. I've also read Amy Sedaris's I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence and can't help but agree with her about the troubles with brunch. It kind of ruins both breakfast and lunch, and it's a little too early to drink. Well, that last point is moot as I'm Irish, and it's never too early to drink. But, to the point. Lately I've been brunching more frequently than I used to brunch, which is to say, twice a weekend, although I generally frequent the same place: Avoca. However, last weekend I made the trek down the street to Odessa (Dublin's favourite restaurant, according to the website, although can Dublin itself have a favourite? Dublin doesn't have preferences, it just has rain and terrible traffic, and lots of arty things to do), and, today, I went to Chatham Brasserie for lunch, and now I feel extremely well-qualified to write a rambling blog post about which brunch is best.
So, without further ado, in no particular order:
I went to Odessa with a friend of mine last weekend for early-morning brunch. We hadn't seen each other in a while, and thought that brunch would be the perfect occasion over which to update one another in the intimate details of our lives and, of course, the lives of others. I had heard on Twitter that Odessa did the best brunch in Dublin; the Bloody Marys, I'd heard, were to die for, and its eggs Benedict was just awesome.
So, of course, I chose neither of the above, and went for the full breakfast. Now, let me tell you now, when it comes to brunch, unless you are horrendously hungover, the full breakfast is never ideal. You feel a little like you are on holidays in a hotel, except you don't get to back up to the buffet, and you're not going to get the smug upper-class satisfaction of ordering crumpets or French toast or some sort of fancy import.
How was the full breakfast (which my companion ordered too; I could never be a food critic as I ultimately end up dining with people who order the same thing I do)? It was... okay. It wasn't awesome. It wasn't unbelievable. It wasn't the best full breakfast I'd ever had. It was all fine, but it did have one thing that most full breakfasts don't: a warm, slightly greasy croissant, placed carefully atop the sausages, bacon (back bacon - whoever thought back bacon was a good alternative to streaky bacon, like, ever, was seriously mistaken) and pudding, as if croissants were a good addition to a greasy fry-up. I ate it all, as I am wont to do with my meals, but I was left feeling a little disappointed. Still, I hear the French toast and eggs Benedict are awesome. 6/10
2. Chatham Brasserie
Sometimes I find myself dining with people who have it in their heads that they don't want to eat carbohydrates for breakfast. I won't pretend to understand them, although I will tolerate them for a short time; we were constrained by his desire not to eat anything fried or baked, and my desire to eat something fried or baked or, if possible, both at once. So we stopped by Chatham Brasserie, with a menu outside that read "French toast - with bacon" and "eggs Benedict / Florentine". Sold.
I ordered the French toast with bacon, obviously, and my companion ordered the smoked salmon with poached eggs and muffins. When they arrived . . . well. The French toast was accompanied by that absolute enemy of my brunching dreams, back bacon, and the muffin was not toasted. What kind of black sorcery was this?! Whose decision? It beggars belief. Still, in the interests of research, we scoffed the lot. My French toast? A little soggy. Not enough maple syrup. BACK BACON. 'Nuff said. His smoked salmon and poached eggs? The salmon was served complete with skin (I know this may be a snobby restaurant code for "good fish", but who wants to eat salmon skin? No one!), the poached eggs looked alright and were deemed so, but, really, who could be expected to get over the fact that the muffin wasn't toasted? Not us. 4/10
Ah, Avoca, I wish I knew how to quit you. When Avoca opened up in Rathcoole a few years back, it was as if all of our Christmasses had come at once: at last, somewhere decent to eat and to buy pretentious country-cottage style housewarming gifts! Hurrah! What could be better? But, really, it was all about the food: broccoli, hazelnut and feta salad; dijon mustard chicken pasta; mushroom soup with more cream than you could shake a stick at in it, and so on. It was only after about two years that I discovered the brunch, which I have been enjoying ever since.
A fortnight ago, I took the same friend I brunched with this morning to Avoca on Suffolk St for brunch, and tried something I'd never tried before: the French toast, with maple syrup and AMERICAN-STYLE bacon. Thank the Lord for that. My companion, boringly, had the same - but Avoca also does amazing creamed field mushrooms on toasted cheese bread; the most delicious scrambled eggs on toast you'll ever eat; delicious American-style pancakes with either berries and creme fraiche or bacon and maple syrup; the full Irish (with toasted cheese bread and Ballymaloe relish) and really gorgeous smoothies. Will I be back? Why did I ever leave? 8/10
* Funniest thing about tag rugby? The response of a friend of mine when I suggested starting an office league. "If I've told you once, I've told you 10 times, tag rugby is for geeks in the IT department who couldn't pull a girl if she was on the other end of a rope."