A brisk walk quickly turned into a light jog as I cursed myself for being late – again – and anticipating that in turn I would suffer the repercussions of not getting a table at the much loved Crumlin Cross Café; The Hungry Duck. Escaping the bitter cold Friday morning my belated arrival is announced by the old-school shop bell and I am thankful for having punctual friends who’ve managed to nab the last available table for breakfast that morning.
The Hungry Duck is bustling, and for the whole of our visit we are reminded by the antiquated shop bell of just how popular the breakfast/lunch spot has become. The humming coming from the natter and chatter of locals enjoying coffees and twists on classic dishes made for a relaxing, lively atmosphere. The soft, pastel blue and warm grey of the walls and fixtures are paired with chalk boards reading the today’s specials, the tables are decorated with rustic glass milk bottles and bright wooden pallets create a partition between the restaurant and the kitchen – where the tastiness is crafted. If you’re lucky enough to catch a window seat the cafe’s bright, open windows provide the perfect fortuity for people watching and escapism from within, what The Irish Times describe as, a ’culinary oasis’.
The girls both opted for the scrambled eggs on sourdough toast; one adding bacon, the other cherry tomatoes, while I risked the porridge. I say ‘risked’ as I have never been satisfied by an eatery’s porridge, I usually find them stodgy and to be made with water. I’ve been striving for my Goldie Locks ‘just right’ moment and The Hungry Duck gave me just that. Our hot beverages came in textured, aqua blue cups followed by our orders in strikingly, vibrant turquoise crockery. Of course a mandatory snapchat was taken; we couldn’t resist with the table looking so unintentionally aesthetic.
The steam of my porridge carried wafts of vanilla through the air, immediately noticed by the three of us, and the wait for it to cool was painstaking. The waitress brought a small pot of honey to the table which she had initially forgotten and I almost kept it to one side thinking the porridge already smelt sweet enough.
Drizzled with honey, creamy and smooth, this porridge was just right. Both girls enjoyed the scrambled eggs, with special mention to the sourdough bread, but felt the eggs needed a tad more salt and pepper. Overall: “bacon was yummy, coffee was fab and service was great”.
Owner, and chef by profession, Aidan Noctor has without a doubt crafted a variety of innovative and memorable dishes at an affordable price. My porridge and pot of tea came to just under a tenner and I could have been very easily tempted by the freshly baked goods at the counter as we fixed the bill. Staff were friendly and attentive and it’s clear that Mr Noctor takes a very hand on approach, serving customers as the lunch time rush commences.
I’m already planning my return and eager to sample the new Friday evening a la carte menu seasoned with live jazz music. If you want to avoid the congestion of the city centre then you can catch a number 9 bus to their door. Inside there is a little bit of a squeeze during peak times but you’ll never be made to feel in the way or uncomfortable. The décor gives the place a homely, local feel. It was not the cheapest breakfast especially for the outskirts of town, but the quality of the food speaks for itself. I would have no issue paying what I paid due to the delectable taste of the dishes.
It was filling, tasty, flavoursome but the only drawback would be that there was not much choice for vegans. Considering the number of people who have turned to veganism, that would be quite a negative realisation. Despite that, the quaint restaurant is well worth a visit.
Value for Money 10/10:
Image credit: Hungry Duck