Grub Spy: Quacking cafe

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

The exterior

The bacon and egg sarnie

The tasty avocado toast

On a fairly regular basis people I hardly know will inquire about my secret favourite restaurant, the place I go to when I want the finest of food. There is an actual look of disappointment when they discover I don’t frequent super-duper wallet-bursting gaffs with ludicrously imagined offerings like Roasted Sharks Bottom or a Carpaccio of Glazed Rabbit Eye-Balls.

THE HUNGRY DUCK 189 Kimmage Rd W, Kimmage, Dublin 12 4.5 Stars Food: €37; Drinks: €10.15

Like most people, when I’m feeling a bit peckish and comfort-seeking, nothing works better than the familiar. Chilling-out is the target. I know a top chef who, every so often, loves nothing more than devouring a Big Mac and fries.

Pronto Coffee at Blackrock in Cork has everything I need when it comes to sitting at the harbour with a coffee and a chunk of lemon drizzle. And I can never resist a stupendous bunch of finger-stickin-lickin BBQ wings from Wishbone on Montague Street. Which brings me neatly to the Hungry Duck.

Just before the first Lockdown (being in a mad rush and bypassing our hotel brekki) murderous traffic and near-starvation forced a break on the Kimmage road – which was when I first came across the Duck.

Today is my fourth visit, and while they describe themselves as a breakfast/brunch restaurant, I would describe them as one of the best cafés in the brunch business.

From 9am to 4pm, Monday to Sunday, from a temptingly short (and changeable) menu they serve goodies like French toast Brioche, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Eggs Florentine and Tarragon Chicken Fricassée.

In my opinion they also serve the best brunch sandwich ever. The Burrata and Avocado on sourdough toast is crammed with sliced avocado, stupendous piles of confit baby tomatoes, dollops of fresh pesto, a wodge of rocket leaves, two perfectly poached organic eggs and a drizzle of reduced balsamic.

It’s exactly what’s required after an especially late Saturday night. The Boss is still talking about it two days later. My Smoked Bacon Sarni has another wodge of that rocket, a blob of sweet & punchy tamarind ketchup and a fried egg, all stuffed deliciously together into a toasted Waterford Blaa. Accompanied with an excellent side of pickled onion salad, it is exactly what I require and a nutritious antidote to thermonuclear hangovers.

We share a square of Chocolate Orange Brownie with whipped cream and a smear of dark berry sauce. Compared to a previous brownie, this is slightly on the dense side, but we manage to do it justice. A couple of extra special Americanos set us up nicely for the start of a long drive home.

A good neighbourhood café will always be like that perfect rendezvous point, a favoured port-of-call where gossip and hunger and relaxation regularly meet-up to discuss tactics.

And I’m guessing from the cosy chatter and how everybody seems to know each other that this place fits that bill. However, no matter how captivating or bang-on a café is, if the food is not up to scratch, word will spread – and then it’s on to the next place.

I can confirm that the food at the Hungry Duck is consistently delicious and has been for over six years. And long may it continue.

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