ONE good thing hipsters can claim at least some responsibility for is the growth in popularity of craft beer in Ireland. Living on the outskirts of Dublin City Centre means that I have my pick of homegrown beer houses – from The Headline on Leonard’s Corner to The Beer Market beside Christchurch. It’s easy to forget that not everyone has the same access to the craft revolution as I do.
Before Christmas, my friend recently suggested a catch-up with the college gang at the newly opened Brú house in Fairview. Her husband also manages the place so she wanted to see what we thought of it.
Brú is a relatively new brand having been first established in 2013 by two Meath friends. To go from developing new craft beers to opening three bars in Navan, Newbridge and Fairview is no mean feat considering how often Irish pubs seem to be closing down. It’s great to hear a success story.
Our catch-up party consisted of ten adults and three children. We met at 2pm on a Sunday at the end of November. I was a little nervous about bringing Joseph as he usually has a honing device that detects when mama wants to relax…so he can get ready to kick off. My friends were bringing their children so I decided to not waste a babysitter when I’d need to call in favours over Christmas.
When I arrived at Bru House it immediately reminded me of the gastro pubs that are so common in London. It has a lovely contrasting decor of cream and brooding Farrow and Ball-tone walls matched with rich, dark floor boards. They also have a few trendy light fixtures to add a ping of hipness without alienating us ‘norms’. What I liked about the set-up was that you could be in the open-plan area and be part of the hustle and bustle on a Friday and Saturday night but you could also slip off to the cosy snugs.
On this occasion I wasn’t there to down a few pints (unfortunately) but to sample the food.
We decided to try most of the dishes on the menu. For starters we ordered the chicken sample platter which consisted of sticky soy chicken wings which were delicious (I’d love if it came with blue cheese dip), crunchy wings, which I couldn’t stop going back for more of, and spicy chicken – too hot for me as I’m a wimp but I know my other half would have loved them. Brú’s hand-cut crisps were way too good and a perfect accompaniment to the starter, or you could just have them as a snack with your pint. They reminded me of the ones my Dad used to make on the pan, which was his speciality.
For mains we all ordered different dishes. Kat’s Pork Belly was massive and looked amazing. Definitely a dish to go for if you are hungry. I tried a bit and loved how juicy it was, while still being perfectly crispy on the outside. I ordered the Chicken with Sweet Potato and Scallions. I liked that it came with sweet potato as it wasn’t a heavy dish and it wouldn’t be too rich for Joseph to nibble on. He loved it but was also chomping down on everyone else’s food so I shouldn’t have worried. Derek ordered the Steak Pie which came out on a mini pan. It was boiling hot as it was straight out of the oven and smelt divine. Burgers and fish and chips were also ordered. I’d been chowing down on too many burgers so declined a sample on this occasion.
Joseph’s favourite seemed to be the dish of the day which was bacon, root vegetables and mash. He kept running over to Ronan to try it. When we were finished with our mains I noticed that there was hardly any food left on people’s plates, which surprised me considering the amount we ordered. A telling sign in itself.
The meals we ordered on this rainy November day were all of a hearty nature but there’s plenty more on the menu with a lighter touch – from salads to sandwiches.
Even though we were bursting at the seams we still managed to sample the brownie and creme brûlée. I actually couldn’t choose a favourite so ordered both!
Starters range from €4.50 to €8.50 and mains from €11.95 to €13.95. There was something for everyone’s budget and I found it quite reasonable considering the portion sizes.
From a parent’s perspective what I loved about the place was that there was room to breathe. You weren’t packed into small spaces and that’s so important when you are out with your baby. There were plenty of high chairs as it wasn’t just our party using them. There was also a baby-changing area: something I never had to think of before but is a deal-breaker when eating out.
I thought I’d be in and out in a hour (as the little man dictates my comings and goings these days) but even Joseph decided to stay over three hours as he liked it so much. Next time I’ll be leaving the car at home and sampling the beers and maybe have some chicken wings….homemade crisps…..the burger……mmmmm.