Herbstreet Brunch in Dublin, Ireland

Note from Becca: I just spent two weeks traveling about England, Ireland, Holland, and Norway with my boyfriend, Eric. It was an amazing trip; and, of course, we brunched everywhere we went. Eric begins our tales with brunch in Dublin …

Day 1:

There are two things I learned when I lived in Dublin for a year: 1) There is a pub on nearly every corner; and 2) Sunny days are so rare that they are treated as national holidays.

Clearly the first of those two facts is the result, and/or saving grace, of the second. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but sunny days find the inhabitants of Dublin scurrying out of their offices early, dodging, hurdling, and bowling over anyone in their path. This is followed up by a touchdown dance in the glory of the elusive Irish sunshine, all without spilling their pint!

HerbstreetDublin2

This most recent trip to my beloved Emerald Isle found the lovely Becca Love and I enjoying one of those rare sunny days with a couple locals keen on steering us towards the brunch of a lifetime—they did not disappoint.

With complete disregard for our head-splitting hangovers, we clumsily staggered the two blocks or so to Herbstreet. This eco-friendly, locally sourced restaurant is perched on a canal fed by the River Liffey and is located on the Southwest side of Dublin’s city center. The corner where the restaurant is located is lively but far from jammed to capacity, and it sits in the shadows of one of Dublin’s large theaters.

HerbstreetInside

Before we go any further let me make one thing clear: I only review manly brunches. Now that we have that administrative issue out of the way we can continue.

Our group of four sat at two small tables pushed together, and we soaked in the sunshine. Happily our seating came complete with a vantage point for all of the corner’s people-watching, which included: families out for a stroll, dogs walking their hungover owners, and a young group of aspiring daredevils doing flips off of the pier into the canal; the latter I was oh so tempted to join.

Our servers were very friendly, greeting us promptly, and immediately thrusting menus into our clumsy, shaky hands. It took no time at all for Becca and my local pal PJ (who we were staying with) to decide on the national breakfast mainstay known as the “Full Irish Breakfast.”

HerbstreetIrishBrekki1

A proper Full Irish Breakfast is not totally dissimilar to a Full English Breakfast, but having anointed myself as an “honorary Irishman” (not just on St. Patrick’s Day) I tend to find the Irish variety more tasty. This latest edition of Full Irish Breckie was dished up to Becca complete with thick hunks of Texas toast, scrambled eggs instead of the more traditional fried, plus home-made baked beans, half of a grilled tomato, bacon (just call them streaky rashers), sausage, black and white pudding, and a slab of potatoes that I still don’t know how she took on.

Yes, it is a dizzying amount of food, which the co-queen of the Bitches couldn’t quite put away. Becca enjoyed the home-made baked beans, but described them as “rather hard” compared to her beloved English Heinz (neither of us were sure if the toughness was intentional). The eggs, tomato, and toast were cooked perfectly and complemented each other well.

The puddings are nothing like the sweet cups of Jello pudding that some of us used to pack off to lunch as children. Instead they are more like biscuits, and Herbstreet put a twist on this by putting the white pudding inside the black pudding. Some sort of Irish breakfast magic if you ask me!

HerbstreetIrishBrekki2

Jen and I ordered the French toast. Jen went with the standard French toast while I opted for the fully loaded model that came decked out with warm rum buttered bananas and a chilled coconut mascarpone—I shed a single tear it was so delicious.

Oops, please omit the previous sentence in the interest of keeping this a manly brunch. What I meant to say is: It was as good as seeing the Ravens score a touchdown, while drinking an entire keg of beer, at Hooters, eating wings with the boys, while asking the guy at the next table if he’s got a problem. Done.

Day 2:

Believe it or not Herbstreet was so good that we decided to take on their brunch two days in a row. This decision was due largely in part to us walking outside to find the previous day’s summer bliss replaced by the long-lost, but not-missed misery that is Irish weather. Immediately I cursed out loud, stamped my feet, and Becca pushed over a small child.

After our respective temper tantrums were through, we hurriedly made our way down the block back to Herbstreet. As we rounded the corner we were confronted with a long line stretching all the way out the door. The prospects of what looked to be a 20 to 30 minute wait, dreary chilly weather, and not even a single child diving into the canal had us giving each other concerned looks about our last day in Dublin.

Once we reached the line, a.k.a. queue, we were quickly told that if we were willing to sit outside we could have our choice of the many empty tables. Becca and I accepted the offer, and ordered up some coffee and tea to keep warm.

HerbstreetOutside

On Day Two of our Herbstreet saga Becca squared off against the Eggs Benedict. The Herbstreet version of this classic (and Becca’s standard favorite) came on a toasted hamburger bun instead of English muffin, and the usual ham was replaced by a piece of thinly sliced bacon that Becca claimed to be the best part of the meal.

Delicately placed (ahem, I mean, manly plopped) on top of the dish were two massive poached eggs, and the entire creation had a generous portion of hollandaise sauce, which was probably intentionally bland enough to let the taste of the ham shine through. The dish came with a side of thick Irish streaky bacon.

HerbstreetBenedict

Seeing as the day had a bit of a chill in the air, and neither I nor my love was interested in reaching into Herbstreet’s impressive liquor cabinet at such an early hour; we instead opted to share an order of spicy wings. The wings were perfectly messy and deliciously spicy. I typically range wings to fall between the two marks of: flavor-full-spicy or I’ve-got-something-to-prove-spicy. These were comfortably in the flavor-full-spicy category, while still offering up enough kick to warm our chilled bones.

HerbstreetWings

Also, they were tiny, and they came with a side of greenish tinted ranch sauce. We quickly polished them off and found ourselves with messy hands. They didn’t come with wet-naps to clean your fingers. Instead, the servers put a small bowl of water with lemon on the table, and we dipped our fingers in it and the sauce came right off.

Some say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I am far too much the perfectionist to abide by such wisdom, so I added bacon to my unbroken order from the previous day, and the result was, emotional! I mean that it was better than Glee, I mean that it was like 50 yard-line tickets to the Super Bowl. Oh boy, moving on …

HerbstreetFrenchToast

The Irish bacon, or streaky rasher, is like the long awaited love child of American-style crispy bacon and Thanksgiving Day ham. The “streaky” in the name is due to fattiness of the meat, but the flavor is life-changing. Becca and I greedily tore through both of our meals, and the wings. Everything we had was absolutely great.

It was only around the time we finished eating that we noticed a few more people venturing out into the chilly cloudy day. We started to see families going about their way, happily joking and popping into Herbstreet for a bite. Even the group of young daredevils arrived, fully equipped with wetsuits and some new moves to show off to all who would watch their unofficial show.

HerbstreetDublin

Our bellys were full, our mood was improved, and like so many times while living in Ireland I stopped and realized that good food, good company, and the prospect of a few pints can put a smile on your face on even the dreariest of days.

Herbstreet
Hanover Quay, Grand Canal Dock  Dublin 2, Co. Dublin City, Ireland
01 675 3875

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