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Grub Spy: Bibi is king

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


The delicious kale tart.

The delicious kale tart.

The hibiscus and rose seltzer.

The hibiscus and rose seltzer.

Inside Bibi’s

Inside Bibi’s


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.

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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