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Bread 41’s new restaurant: Weekend brunch is a delight, but I have one criticism...

Revew: The new dining area at Bread 41 on Pearse Street is perfect for a casual catch-up

Bread 41 Eatery
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Address: 41 Pearse Street, Dublin 2
Telephone: None
Cuisine: Irish
Cost: €€

A series of events meant that I've been to the new 40-seater dining area upstairs at Bread 41 more times than I'd planned to since it quietly opened in the middle of November. First a family brunch, then a planned lunch with a friend where I turned up a day too early. There's no planet B, I'm informed by the mural on the whitewashed brick wall, but sure, that doesn't mean I can't hastily formulate a plan B, so I have lunch there two days in a row, allowing me to work my way through more of the menu.

Bread 41 is perfect for a casual catch-up with a friend. There is a row of booths down one side of the wedge-shaped room, all set up for a proper bit of goss, that’s after you’ve finished admiring the Kilner jars that act as luminous jewelled dividers in tall glass cabinets between the four booths. Topaz yellow preserved lemon oil, ruby raspberry and rose vinegar, amber raspberry and lemongrass vinegar and dark plum ume vinegar.

My attempt at becoming a regular pays off, not just in familiarising myself with fascinating combinations for vinegars, I also land one of the cosy booths the third time I visit.

As you'd expect, the menu reflects the serious work that is going on downstairs, a bakery where Eoin Cluskey uses a stone mill to grind organic grain onsite three times a week, the gentle action of the two stones ensuring that the flour is as fresh as possible. All the bread is made by hand, sourdough loaves ferment for 48 hours, and there is an impressive line-up of pastries. Downstairs still operates as a cafe, while the breakfast, lunch and brunch menu upstairs has additional dishes.

Extra dimension to flavours

Deciding to start off with smoked beetroot and hummus, €11, I quickly realise that it’s not just dips, but comes on toast, which, of course, it said on the menu, but I had somehow missed this fact. Which is fortuitous, because it turns out to be as good as an open sandwich can be. The hummus and smoked beetroot is loaded on sourdough, straightforward enough. But bringing an extra dimension to flavours we are all familiar with are dollops of a beautifully fresh dressing made from poblano, feta and mint, and a few curls of pickled kohlrabi and candied walnuts. The delicious leaves on the side, lightly dressed, are of course from McNally’s Farm.

The vegetable tarte tatin, €13, comes with more of those organic leaves, and looks pretty stunning with slender strips of glazed carrots and leeks, caramelised and buttery, striped across puff pastry. The chicken pie, €13.50, is also made with puff pastry, laminated and flaky, but in need of just a little bit more of the béchamel sauce that binds the chunks of Ring’s Farm chicken, leeks and onions. Not so much that the crispness of the pastry is put in jeopardy, but just enough to ensure that it’s not too dry.

These are fairly light lunch dishes, which is very much the style of things here, but the prices reflect this. The warm pumpkin salad, €9, which I had the previous day, was particularly good – the sweet char on the edges of the barbecued pumpkin, a touch of acidity from segments of clementine, and freshness and earthiness from labneh, salad leaves, crispy kale and spiced pumpkin seeds all adding interest to each bite.

Brunch at the weekends is a particular delight. Go with a few people so that you can share the deep-fried kimchi fritters with peanut rayu and miso hollandaise, €11; and order the eggs Benedict, €14. The Benedict is particularly good because it is served on one of Bread 41’s phenomenal croissants instead of a lack lustre muffin, and the glazed pork is so much better than nondescript ham.

If I had one criticism, it would be the acoustics in the room. There are a lot of hard surfaces so it’s all a bit discordant, and I reckon a full room could be quite noisy. But, a major point in its favour, Cluskey had the foresight to invest €25,000 in a top-level air filtration system when the premises was being developed more than three years ago, making this a particularly safe environment for meeting up with friends. There may be no planet B, but if you’re looking for a plan A for breakfast, lunch or brunch, this is it.

Lunch for two with one mineral water and one tea was €44.80

  • Verdict: Casual food using top produce
  • Facilities: Downstairs, clean
  • Music: Barely audible
  • Food provenance: McNally Farm, Ring's Farm, Pigs on the Green pork, North Wicklow Eggs
  • Vegetarian options: Yes, but vegan options limited, ask to have dishes adapted. Thumbs up for the warm pumpkin salad
  • Wheelchair access: Upstairs room is inaccessible, menu can be served downstairs, and there is an accessible toilet