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Grub Spy: Bibi is king

Alan Kelly dishes the goods on Ireland’s tastiest dining destinations

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The delicious kale tart.

The delicious kale tart.

The hibiscus and rose seltzer.

The hibiscus and rose seltzer.

Inside Bibi’s

Inside Bibi’s

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The delicious kale tart.

For quite some time, most of my favourite Dublin eateries — including celebrated establishments like Pickle, Spitalfields, Bastible, Sprezzatura and Camden kitchen — are conveniently and closely located in and around the D8 locality.

BIBI’S CAFE
14A Emorville Avenue, Portobello, Dublin 8
Four Stars
Food €16; Drink €3

So close, in fact, you could easily toddle out one door and straight through the next into another first-rate culinary outpost — quite frankly it’s a fantastic set-up for visitors and locals alike. Likewise, if you’ve been mulling over a post-lockdown blow-out in the big smoke, and would like to experience delicious things cooked with skill and love, served by friendly professional staff, in a part of the city buzzing with its own special hubbub you won’t get anywhere else, you really should check out D8.

And don’t worry about over-the-top expensive gaffs with incomprehensible menus and snooty waiters – there is a conspicuous lack of snoot in pretty much every place I’ve been to around here. And if you do happen to be in the mood for a special breakfast lunch or brunch, I would highly recommend Bibi’s, a local favourite well-known neighbourhood café on the corner of Emorville Avenue and Ovoca Road in Portobello.

Bibi’s menu, pleasingly short and easy to navigate, includes Smaller/Starter plates, Lunchier Dishes and Egg Based Dishes – exactly what should be on a neighbourhood café menu. I was keen to try them all: Turkish poached eggs with yoghurt, spicy Turkish butter and Tartine Sourdough, French Tartine Brioche Toast with Rosscarberry rashers and Maple Syrup, or a Gubbeen Chorizo Toastie with Manchego, Sundried Tomatoes and Chili Mayo. Unfortunately I was so stuffed after a baked wedge of eggy Tart with Black Kale, Goats Cheese, Crown Prince Pumpkin and Caramelized Onion, I had no

room left. There was also that substantial side of Rocket leaves and a gorgeous stack of creamy slaw made with crunchy broccoli florets, toasted almonds, chopped walnuts, crispy kale and red kidney beans. With a near-perfect shortcrust pastry the subtly flavoured tart was hot and plentiful, deeply satisfying, and although slightly lacking in the seasoning department, I would happily order it again. I also liked Bibi’s Lemon Square dessert. Yes, a splodge of whipped cream would have helped, but it was moist enough and lemony enough and the crumbly base was just right. For drinks I tried an unusual sounding Hibiscus & Rose Seltzer. Made by British company ‘Something & Nothing’ it is a healthy-ish drink that tastes different, but in a good way.

Bibi’s friendly neighbourhood café is one of the reasons why I love this area so dearly, and I can see by the smiling faces of the other diners that they might be catching the same vibe. I couldn’t help overhearing (ok, I was ear-wigging a bit) as two younger couples held a chatty debate and a quibble over what was their favourite pub and restaurant so far (obviously tourists) and where they might try on their last night. There is something really special happening in a city when you hear and see things like that. It’s exactly what we Irish do and say when we hit the hot-spots of Europe and beyond. It feels so apt and appropriate here.

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