There seems to be no let-up in the Irish love affair with brunch and there are now many different restaurants offering their take on this ever popular meal. However, if the truth be told, not all brunches are equal and it can be hard to find places that stand out from the crowd.
A perfect brunch menu should include something a little more substantial than just the usual breakfast fare as it is a laid-back, somewhat self-indulgent meal that often meanders into the afternoon past lunch time. Surroundings are all-important as the diner should feel relaxed and unhurried and – in my opinion – good cocktails are mandatory!
As part of my quest to seek out the best brunches around Ireland, I recently popped in to Broyage Bar & Bistro in the Hilton Dublin Kilmainham which is located close to the City Centre near to many of Dublin’s top visitor attractions. The restaurant is situated at the front of the hotel looking out onto the entrance of Kilmainham Gaol – a former prison which is now a museum run by the Office of Public Works. The Gaol was originally built in 1796 and it is the place where many of the leaders of the 1916 Rising were imprisoned and eventually executed before it was decommissioned as a prison in 1924.
When the weather permits, patrons can dine at tables on the large attractive outdoor terrace attached to the restaurant and on the sunny Saturday afternoon that I visited, many had opted to do so. Although tempted to dine al fresco, I eventually decided to take a table inside the restaurant at a large window looking out on the terrace where I could see and the attractive stonework frontage of the Gaol.
The spacious interior of the restaurant also houses a large well-stocked bar and with little persuasion I decided to kick off proceedings with a Peach Bellini (€9.95) – a classic brunch cocktail which was originally created by Giuseppe Cipriani, who founded the iconic Harry’s Bar in Venice. It is named after the famous Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini because the cocktail’s unique pink colour is said to resemble a pigment favoured by the artist. Dining with me was my eldest daughter who ordered a freshly squeezed orange juice and the two of us sipped happily on our drinks as we decided what to order from the menu.
Executive Head Chef Philip Hogan has devised a well-structured and brunch menu which is divided into ‘Hearty’ and ‘Healthy’ options with sections covering ‘Sweet’ dishes as well as a number of choices for younger diners in the ‘Little Brunch’ category. In fact, real thought has been given to creating an interesting children’s menu which is crammed full of tasty treats to tempt even the fussiest eater. Feeling quite hungry we decided to choose a cross-section of dishes from the menu to share between us.
Nearby diners were tucking into delicious-looking large Full Irish breakfasts which seemed to be going down a treat and although tempted by this and also the indulgent sounding Spanish Style Sausage, Beans and Eggs comprising a mixed bean cassoulet with chorizo sausage and topped with a fried egg, I decided to start with the Cumberland Sausage (€12.50) from the Hearty side of the menu.
Cumberland sausages are distinguished by their spiral shape and here this tradition was observed. The well-flavoured sausage was served on top of a cushion of butter-rich, creamy mashed potato and accompanied by an excellent caramelised onion gravy that had just the right amount of bitter-sweet notes to cut through the overall richness of the dish. This was comfort food heaven and the type of dish that makes you feel that all’s right with the world!
Choices on the ‘Healthy’ side of the menu include a number of lighter and vegetarian options. Our choice – Avocado Bruschetta (€9.95) was a wonderful dish full of well balanced flavours and textures that had us licking our lips with pleasure.
I particularly like the use of the toasted garlic bloomer bread which complemented the guacamole perfectly. It was paired with slices of fresh avocado and an outstanding baked tomato ‘stew’. The crowning glory was the expertly poached egg which released its runny yolk when pierced with a knife. I loved every mouthful.
For me the perfect brunch always includes something a little sweet and after toying with ordering the Italian Toast (€8.95) – French toast made with ciabatta bread – we eventually settled on the Crêpes (€9.95) which were served with sweet cream, berry compote and maple syrup. All too often crêpes can be a tad chewy but these were tender and were nicely complimented by the accompanying sweet cream, the maple syrup and a fantastically tart fruit-of-the-forest style compote.
Along with the food, my daughter also enjoyed a large glass of Hot Chocolate (€3.50) whilst I eschewed the large selection of teas and coffees on offer, content to sip on my Bellini.
Special mention should be made of the exemplary service throughout our meal. Staff were well-versed on the ingredients used on the menu and where they had been sourced from. All our needs were catered for enthusiastically and with a smile which added to the enjoyment of our meal.
What I like so much about the brunch at Broyage Bar & Bistro is that there isn’t a whiff of pretension about it and there are enough clever twists on classic brunch offerings to make the menu really interesting. The food is excellent, the surroundings are stylish and the service is impeccable – what more could you ask for? I’ll be back!
Brunch is served on Saturdays, Sundays, & Bank Holidays from 11am to 3pm.
Broyage Bar & Bistro
Hilton Dublin Kilmainham
South Circular Road
Niamh believes Ireland produces some of the best food in the world, and travels around the country; seeking out the best food producers, and places to eat.
An accomplished cook and baker, Niamh is also a previous MasterChef Ireland finalist. During the competition she had the opportunity to cook in some of Ireland’s top restaurants and experience life on the other side of the kitchen pass.
Working with TheTaste allows Niamh to write about her experiences and to share her passion for food and cooking with a wide audience.
Visit Niamh’s blog The Game Bird Food Chronicles.