Sprout review: Healthy eating wings and sprouts in city centre
Brothers Jack and Theo Kirwan’s salad bar brings a new element to the soup, salad and wrap lunch
Sprout and Co Kitchen
- 63 Dawson St
Okay February. I give up. As an antidote to your squally freezing days, I am queuing for quinoa. We are standing on dug up Dawson Street in some watery sunshine waiting to place our order in Sprout and Co.
A smiling waitress comes out with mouthfuls of juice in plastic shot cups to keep hunger grumps and the “what in holy hemp oil am I doing here?” existentialism at bay. What is the pinky orange liquid? “It’s vitamin a, b and c,” she says. That’s what they’re calling carrot, apple and passionfruit juice these days. Where will it all end?
Sprout is a salad bar. Those are two of the most joyless words in food. One of the best things about working from home is not having to queue for coleslaw. But I’m lining up here because brothers Jack and Theo Kirwan, who set this place up, are bringing a new element to the soup, salad and wrap trade. They say they want to give a shot in the arm to vegetable growers, serving as many Irish greens, purples, reds and yellows as they can find. In February, I’m guessing that means lots of kale.
The Kirwan brothers have hit this fertile ground running and queues have been forming since they opened in Dublin city centre in November. The look is a pared back, white and green colour scheme. Furniture is chunky timber; stools, benches and a window ledge make up most of the seating. The scaffolding timber shelves hold pots of herbs with names beside them. My inner sark notes that their “parsley” shelf consists of a row of bay plants.
There is meat here – turkey and chicken the day I visit – and salmon is one of the “protein” elements of a dish you can make up by building your lunch from a list of components.
There is nothing brown or sludgy in the candy-store colours on display. This is millennial food, less lentils, brown rice and Birkenstocks and more pretty things such as pomegranate seeds, and edamame beans greener than new spring leaves. There’s a bright pink beet concoction and several tubs of seeds and nuts for sprinkling. But, hang on, are those strawberries? In February? They have the squidgy look of fruit that might have been frozen from last year’s crop, so I’ll give them a pass.
I’m the 259th person to order lunch here if they started the order numbers at zero. By the time I leave almost another hundred people have shuffled through the room, collecting boxes to go or sitting down briefly in this busy place.
The food arrives in cardboard boxes on chunky wooden boards. There is green plastic cutlery made from recycled broccoli stalks. Okay, I made that up. But my feeble fork is no match for the robust crust on the three golf ball sized falafel. Please give us lingerers a real fork and save the disposable ones for the too busy to sit trade.
This quibble aside, this is a great lunch. It’s not just the freshness of everything (the smell of cooking is the second thing you’re greeted with here). It’s the small things such as the fact that they have pickled the beetroot cubes, but only slightly, so their soil sweetness hasn’t been hammered by sugar or vinegar. The grated carrot has been dyed pink by the other beet elements, including a spoonably sloppy neon pink beet tzatziki and a fluffy hummus.
The falafel are nutty and pleasant, with a slather of yoghurt to take the slight dryness off them. (Eating falafel slathered with hummus is a bit too much of a muchness). A miso assembled on the spot is pleasant, if a little wimpy, a kind of miso for beginners with none of the sedimenty sludge that heartier broths bring. I think it’s the build-your-own process that’s the problem here. The ingredients could do with hanging out a bit longer together.
The treat is a smoothie called “Hello You” made with almond butter, almond milk, cinnamon, dates and bananas. There’s a health schmealth vibe to it. This cup is about as low in calories as I am in opinions.
Is Sprout and Co worth the wait? Yes. The food’s not cheap but good food shouldn’t be. It’s a pink-cheeked presence in dank winter. Lunch for one with a smoothie came to €17.40.