Irish brunch enthusiasts have a lot to thank Melbourne for. The antipodean city has inspired a wave of cafe culture that has hit our shores in the shape of spots such as Fifty Two Squared, Two Boys Brew and Established Coffee. One of the newer kids on the block, inspired by the Australian city’s talent for coffee and brunch, is The Pot Bellied Pig in the Dublin borough of Rathmines.
This small but beautifully formed café is owned and run by Lema Murphy, who lived and worked in Melbourne after college.
“I was really taken by how social these cafés were, with groups of friends coming together for delicious breakfast but similarly a person could feel completely at ease on their own to read the paper and chill,” Murphy says.
“Although Ireland had a growing food culture, it was largely an evening thing and so I wanted to bring a bit of Melbourne to Dublin.”
She opened The Pot Bellied Pig in March 2017 and has a team of eight staff working alongside her serving brunch and lunch throughout the week. Their aim, as Murphy puts it, is “simple food done well with amazing coffee in a fabulous setting”.
The colour theme, as my lunch date puts it, is “millenial pink”. The space is surely one of the most Insta-ready in Ireland, its pastel booths propped up by a backdrop of leaf-adorned wallpaper leading the eye to the hexagon teal tiles on the floor (the design came from Roisin Lafferty of Kingston Lafferty Design).
I’m particularly fond of the roof installation of carefully cut tubes painted pink on the inside and hanging over the coffee bar, which serves excellent Cloud Picker Coffee roasted in Dublin’s Docklands and made with Village Dairy milk from Carlow.
Our servers are both accommodating, swift and friendly. We sit out in a small, uncovered back terrace, out of sight but we are never forgotten by the team. For lunch, I can’t resist JJ’s Massive Rasher Sandwich (€6.50). Unfortunately, they are out of the Vlaa bun (a take on the blaa made by Vlad Rainis at Arun Bakery) so my bacon sarnie arrives on sourdough instead, with apologies from the staff, and isn’t quite as massive as promised. But the bacon is really good, supplied by the O’Neill family in Wexford.
The O’Neills supply the Pot Bellied Pig with all their pork products. With such a porky name, Murphy simply had to go for the best pork products and O’Neills are certainly up there with the best.
Dessert is a downright outrageously decadent torched meringue and salted caramel brownie. Their scones and brownies are baked in house, while their pastries come from Opera Patisserie and Arun Bakery.
Breakfast, served from 8am to 11.30am, is a simpler affair with toast (€3), creamy porridge (€4.50) and homemade granola (€4) on the menu – alongside a crispy bacon bagel (€5.50), of course. There’s the obligatory smashed avo (€9.50) and a daily soup (€4.50) too.
The decor is bold, and if you’re not into hanging ferns and pastel teals and pink, it might feel a little surreal or overwhelming, even. But regardless of whether you’re a fan of bold interior design, the staff and simple food here make it a cozy spot for catch-up chat.
Over my visit, I didn’t experience Melbourne-levels of mind-blowing flavours and inventiveness, but everything is carefully sourced and prepared so I think they’re hitting their brief of simple food done well.
Now that they’ve settled in to their brunch and lunch game, Murphy is working with her head chef Donal Moore and junior chef Cezary Zyla on pushing the boat out menu-wise. They’re hosting their first Supper Club in November which will feature a seven-course tasting menu called From Snout To Tail. Keep an eye on their website and social media for more details on that.