Review: Brother Hubbard on Dublin’s Capel Street grows up

The middle eastern theme is still there but in the evenings it’s all about the leisurely feast

Sat, Nov 21, 2015, 06:50

   

Brother Hubbard

  • 153 Capel St, Dublin 1, Ireland
  • (01) 4411112
  • brotherhubbard.ie
  • Middle Eastern

We should really call it the Pottolenghi Luck Club. It’s the occasional pot-luck gathering where a bunch of women each arrives to someone’s house with a dish or six and we set the world to rights while feasting. Some people (okay mainly me) use Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty as the go-to book for inspiration on pot-luck days. Quite a few butternut squashes have been harmed in the making of these evenings.

And strangely there’s never been a duff dinner despite the fact that no instructions are exchanged as to what anyone should bring.

Middle Eastern food is perfect platter cooking for these nights, plated up on the big dishes that live at the back of the cupboard. It’s tapas only less finicky. All those tasty mouthfuls arrive on one convivial sharing plate.

A brass platter that reminds me of the random deliciousness of pot luck has just arrived on the table in Brother Hubbard on Dublin’s Capel Street.

We’re here at night, which is the start of the treat. Brother Hubbard took over from Wolfe’s Bistro in 2012 as a daytime place that upped the game in lunches on Capel Street. Since August they have been opening in their next door “little brother” premises in the evenings from Wednesday to Saturday for a set menu based on that idea of a Middle Eastern feast.

There’s a little explaining to do first. The starters sound so appealing I’d like to order them all and it turns out I can. The starters and desserts come on the platters. You get small portions of everything. The only choice we have to make is on our main courses.

First up is a plate of fried and lightly spiced spud chunks smothered in a lemony tahini yoghurt dressing. There’s a bright pink paste of beet hummus that has so successfully blended the beety flavour into the mix that he who hates beetroot is scooping up shovelfuls with warm nuttily spiced za’atar flatbreads.

There are flat toffee-sized sweet potato falafel, crunchy on the outside, soft and melting inside. Some cauliflower chunks have been coated in a crunch batter and drizzled with lime yoghurt. There’s another minted yoghurt and tiny palm-sized bowls of Moroccan harira soup. It’s a perfect size. You don’t lose the will to live halfway down the bowl, an experience I increasingly find with large soup portions in cafes. The joy of this shared platter is the dunking of bits into other dressings or the soup. The tangy pickled vegetables with the sweeter falafel are a particular joy.

The mains take that great larder of Middle Eastern ingredients and methods to a heartier place again with juicy pink rare lamb cutlets in a bowl with red onion sumac and pink pops of pomegranate seeds. The king of the four mains is a beef kofta, large sausages of minced beef with feta rolled in the middle and a soupy tomato and red pepper sauce that dings every flavour bell. Humble vegetables like fennel and carrots are combined in a tagine with free-range chicken and the zing of preserved lemons and earthy olives.

A stuffed pepper is one of two vegetarian options that are just as satisfying as the meat offerings. There’s wedding cous cous which has lentils stirred through it and is scattered with edible flowers on the top. And there are shared bowls of stem broccoli with yellow beans finished with spiced butter.

I have one decor niggle. There’s a nippy north wind snaking round the door every time it opens. They need a curtain on winter nights to soften its edge.

We finish with baklava layered with walnuts and cinnamon, a chocolate ice-cream and fig with spiced orange slices. There are smooth rosy chunks of Turkish delight dusted in so much icing sugar the plate is like a fingerprinting scene from CSI. We end with Moroccan mint tea and excellent coffee.

I loved Brother Hubbard by day. I love its grown up nighttime brother. For under €40 a head with wine they’re serving the kind of food I like to eat in the way I like to eat it.

Dinner for four with one bottle of wine, coffees and mint tea came to €151.95