One of the interesting things I find about different parts of Germany are their wonderful bakeries that have a wide selection of breads including the famously heavy, rich and fully flavoured dark German bread.
In Hamburg, one of the common breakfast bread/pastries on offer is the Franzbrötchen (translated as French bread). You’ll normally come across a wide variety of them and there’s even a place in the main train station (Hauptbahnhohf) that is called Franz and Friends that sells the widest selection of Franzbrötchen I ever saw – maybe twelve different types.
The most classic variation on offer it the plain Franzbrötchen which is definitely a nod to the classic croissant cross bred with a swedish cinammon scroll. The bread is light, and sweet although slightly more dense and breadlike than you’ll find with a flaky pastry based croissant. The classic one is roleld up on as a scroll, and brushed with a sugar and cinammon mixture that works well as a morning breakfast treat.
Other classic variations you’ll find are the streusel-franzbrötchen (a franzbrötchen topped with a crunchy biscuit mixture).
I didn’t really a chance to blog about this restaurant when we were in Dublin, however it was one of winners of the Michelin Bib Gourmand (Good Value) restaurants and was apparently popular being twice fully booked out when I tried to go. I decided to book a visit with me and my colleague post work and it turned out to be a really nice atmosphere.
Despite being all about pork (you see pictures hanging everywhere), I managed to book the visit on one of my vegetarian days. They served an extremely flavoursome set of options and, I think, there was at least more than one choice per item as a vegetarian, a pretty good sign of a respect-for-vegetarians. No idea if is vegan friendly but you probably wouldn’t come to a restaurant called “The Pig’s Ear” to begin with.
Service was warm, lovely all around, the food pretty tasty – a warm cauliflower soup rich and velvety followed up by a flavoursome spelt risotto and a well dressed side salad. The chocolate slice was pretty delightful as well for dessert.
It seems like Dublin has any many coffee houses as they do pubs. The good news is that most of these seem to be pretty independent places (for the most part). You do see the occasional Starbucks, but you don’t see the typical Costa, Starbucks, Nero trio on every part with either a bit more of a local feel. Hunting down places that do good coffee seems like a mission I’m happy to take when trying a new city.
My favourites for the coffee turned out to be:
3FE – I dropped into here on the way to head out to Howth. It was positively buzzing with people sitting, chatting with a friend or people reading their kindle or messages on their phone. The coffee took a while to make with only a single barist and a backlog of coffee orders but it was pretty tasty. Found at 32/34 Lower Grand Canal Street, Dublin 2.
Coffee Angel – I tried to find the store quite close to the Custom House’ Quay to no avail, but stumbled across their smaller, tiny store around … those seemed to sell more of their hand-roasted beans and coffee equipment. They did a mean flat white that was nice to sit on their only bench outside in a ceramic cup. Found at various locations but I visited the one at 16A South Anne Street, Dublin 2
The Bald Barista – Named after Buzz Fendall, their bald barista (who I did not see), this place seemed more like the place you’d sit down to have a breakfast. Order at the bar, and then take your seat. The flat white here wasn’t as good as the others, but still drinkable. For me it had a bit too much milk, the milk was slightly too hot and yet somehow missed out on being the microfoam that a flat white really deserves. Found at 55 Aungier Street, Avalon House, Dublin 2.
Dublin is full of cafes offering the full “Irish breakfast”, typically distinguished from the “Full English” breakfast by the present of white and black puddings. A culture of drinking leads to a culture of a late brunch and so Dublin offers plenty. As more people move towards the coffee-drinking culture Dublin has sprouted to match the expectation of a quality brunch place offering meals that go beyond the “plate that fixes the hangover”.
I went along to one of the newer ones, Farmer Brown’s located just near the newer Dockland part of the city. Nestled between a number of residential places, this cafe offered seating outside, a covered terrace and inside seating for all. Wanting some French Toast, it arrived with a hugely generous portion of bacon that had literally been cooked together where the strands of bacon seemed to infuse itself. So… much… bacon but very good. Unlike other places where you run out of bacon before you have finished the eggy-goodness-soaked bread, there was plenty of it to go around with each bite. Yum. Flat white wad admittedly disappointing with milk being both too hot and not foamed enough.
Other dishes looked good looking around at what other people ordered.
Other places I’d like to try next time include the Lennox Cafe (31 Lennox Street, Dublin 8) and Herbstreet (Hanover Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2) Another one worth trying is apparently Odessa (14 Dame Court, Dublin 2) although I’m loath to bother lining up for a place when there are so many other options.
You can find Jims Burrito’s in the heart of Sternschanze, a lively area of Hamburg. Easily spotted from the street, their icon is the face of a person wearing a mexican wrestling mask. We went here, after a long session at the gym, and we were warned that it would be a significant wait. Wait, we did, for almost forty minutes.
Since we were eating with Maria (who is from Mexico), I was told the food was pretty authentic. They offered tacos, burritos, quesadillas and enchilads, all with different sorts of meats and non-meat options. I went for a seitan equivalent seeing as it was my vegetarian day.
The place is outfitted with some fun signs, including one talking about the wait, some translations about the types of food and ingredients and plenty of bottles of hot sauces dotted around (even spotted a very vietnamese Rooster chilli sauce that seemed a bit of place)
I asked for my quesidilla “ganz scharf” (quite spicy) and they obliged by throwing a few more chillis into the mix. The quesidills arrived with small bowls of sour cream, salsa and the best guacamole I’ve ever eaten. I could probably eat bowls of that stuff. Best I don’t though for my own health. The salsa had a good kick of its own and I was eating everyone elses beacuse I wanted something quite spicy.
Dublin suffered a lot of things with the post dot-com crash of the early 2000s. With lots of investment from the EU, inflation rose rapidly, and just like the San Francisco area, Dublin became a mecca for all sorts of places where people could spend it – all the way from bars, clubs and restaurants. Fortunately prices seem to have stabilised a bit, and with more competition for the same Euros, Dublin offers many good quality places to dine for pretty good value.
I’ve been lucky enough to sample quite a few of Dublin’s offerings and, I have to admit, haven’t really had a very bad meal at all. There are plenty of options to choose from including your ubiquitous burrito joints, to sushi, malaysian and everything in between. Rather than list all the details for each restaurant (which would take much longer than time I have available), I will list some of the highlights over the past couple of weeks.
Restaurant at Donnybrook Fair (European restaurant)
You’ll often see a lot of locals carrying the white, D|F-labelled bags that belong to this up-scale market place. They also happen to have a restaurant upstairs to one of their (flagship?) stores. I read about their BBQ nights where they offer a decent value platter to share between two. Four of us popped in after work and it wasn’t hard to get a table at about 7pm although it filled up quickly after that. The dining room is bright, airy and the meal deal very great value. Appetiser samplers were a great appetite kickstarter with my favourite being the wholesome grilled mushroom and the prosciutto-wrapped fig. The BBQ meat platter soon arrived with grilled chicken, salmon, quail and a steak. I’ll admit the chicken probably had a bit too much time on the grill, but all the other bits were divine. A clever, light strawberry and coconut-lime mousse was served as dessert.
Bloom Brasserie (European Restaurant)
Located in the basement, my colleague recommended this nice brasserie serving fresh continental foods that was also pretty decent value. Not many vegetarian options on the set menu. Creamy, beautify mushroom soup to start followed by a perfectly cooked sea bream, carrot and butternut squash puree and lightly wilted baby spinach. A light chocolate mousse, raspberry coulis, topped with chopped hazelnuts for me to follow.
Cornucopia (Vegetarian Cafe/Restaurant)
A popular restaurant located on busy Wicklow Street, this place is slightly more cafe than restaurant (you order at the counter, collect your food and then hunt for a table because it’s so popular). A fresh water dispenser is located by the door and you have options that all looked pretty tempting. I was tempted by the Cashew baked aubergine with smoked paprika mash and pea sauce but then succumbed to the sounds of a daily special of smoked tofu parcels with two side salads that was really great value at €12.95.
The Exchequer (Gastropub)
Voted one of Ireland’s best gastropubs I have to agree that the food here was so good, I came back on one of the weekends to sample a few of the other dishes. They do an amazing selection of cocktails as well (all recorded in the “Ledger of Liquor”) and I can highly recommend the Smoky Old Fashioned. Beautifully prepared, balanced and accompanied by an ice-cube ball that is guaranteed to outlast your drink. All of the food is fabulously presented, tasty and the only down-side I have to admit is the side of potato skins/fries that failed to be as crisp as they could be. Desserts (at least the gingerbread tea cake) is totally worth trying and massive enough to share between two. Definitely come here if you want some good food and drink. I’ll be back again if I can make it.
2 courses for €19.95 or 3 for €23.95 (choose any starter, main or dessert) only Sunday-Wednesday
A popular French brasserie that fills up quickly, I was able to nab a seat at the bar as I was early enough and dining alone. Had I arrived only half an hour later, it would have been impossible and I saw them turn away quite a few people. Cocktails are expertly made, with lots of care and perfected and they have an early bird menu at 3 courses for €22 from 5:30-7pm Sunday to Thursday.
33 Exchequer St Dublin 2, Co. Dublin, Ireland, http://www.greenhen.ie
Michie Sushi (Japanese)
Located a bit in the ‘burbs, this tiny little sushi place is apparently more popular with take-away. Partly because there are only something like six or seven tables for two or four and located in a tiny little alleyway, hardly any parking. Unagi nigiri (my favourite type) was a generous portion of fish, lightly slathered in the traditional BBQ sauce and perfectly delicious. A couple of good rolls and you could roll me out of there. Good decent sushi that I haven’t had for a long time although not sure if I would make a trip out of the city specifically for that (if I was visiting Dublin). I think they do delivery and I’d probably opt for that if I lived in Dublin.
During the Easter weekend, I managed to get a small part of the vegetarian crew back together again to enjoy the delights of the very reasonable Morgan M. This place is amazing value and I have no idea how they do tasting menus for so cheap.
We went for the spring “From the Garden” tasting menu. Five courses for only £48. Yes, you still have to pay service, and yes the drinks are extra on top of that. For the quality of the food though, it’s still great value.
Here’s our menu details but I won’t bother trying to write about each dish beacuse each was really great, and was focused on chatting and catching up with everyone that I didn’t really have a chance to take any notes.
I rarely have breakfast in the hotels that I stay in, particularly because mmost of the time they are overpriced and much heavier than what I really wnat to have (normally a bowl of muesli with skim milk and berries). I was booked into a very nice hotel in Hamburg (Steigenberger) and I thought I would at least try their breakfast once.
Though not cheap at €24, the breakfast is a buffet spread with the proper white clothed dining experience. Lead to my table, I was asked about tea and coffee, and I was first offered a pot of tea. The tea arrived in an impressive looking tea pot, complete with tea light caddy to help keep it warm. When I later went to the buffet spread, I could see the dozen or so high quality teas they also had on offer. I later switched to the coffee and the attendants were nice enough to even switch the glasses before bringing a pot of their classic German dark and strong coffee.
On to the buffet.
Though not the biggest selection, everything was pretty high quality. There are the usual cereal spread (a choice of about eight different types of mueslis and cereals), breads, fruit, cheeses and meats, and even a omellette/pancake station. Although tempted, I didn’t really want to wait in line and although I would normally love a pancake, this was more the crepe-style pancakes that do nothing for me.
Our team has had a bit of trapsing around the area near our office, checking out coffee places for the a good coffee place. I suggested we visited Milchglas, a place that touts itself as a coffee and catering place. We walked in and there quite a few people in, eating lunch so I guess it must be okay.
There wasn’t really much room to sit, but that was fine since we either normally have a coffee standing up, or at least take away.
The cakes, muffins and brownies looked pretty tempting.
I stumbled across this Vietnamese place, located just near the main Hamburg train station. I love pho, and after missing the best pho from Monsieur Vuong, thought I’d give this place a try. I went there on after work one evening, but the queuing made me feel like I would go pretty hungry.
I went at an off peak time, figuring I might get a table easier between lunch and dinner, with a late lunch at 3pm. I was seated immediately, but there was plenty of other people eating. Even half an hour later, there were no more tables, and I was even asked to share.
Fortunatly I see why this place is popular. The pho was pretty tasty. Not quite like Monsieur Vuong special, but definitely tasty. It’s a place I’ll definitely come back to at some point.
Name: Quan Do: Vietnamese Street Kitchen Found at: Georgsplatz 16 (Corner of Rosenstraße 3), 20099 Hamburg Website: http://www.quan-do.com/