With two locations, one north and one south of the Liffey, the Lovely Food Co. is never too far away from the hungry Dubliner. The small but cosy restaurants offer a range of European dishes to satisfy an empty stomach. Owner Paul Breen has made his vision of creating a friendly, homelike atmosphere to eat delectable food a reality.
Located on the beautiful rustic Drumcondra Road, the contemporary black and white colouring of the exterior gives the impression of a trendy, new-era eatery which is both inviting and stylish. Solid white tables and chairs sit outside giving the option to eat al fresco, if it is weather permitting, and look out upon the mature trees that line the road.
When you walk through the front door you’re immediately greeted with an array of cakes and pastries through a glass fridge counter. The waitresses are quick to seat people and no time was spent waiting at the door. The large front window illuminates the room along with the yellow glow of small lamps fixed to the wall under large grey letters simply saying “LOVELY”.
The inside is tight with very little room between the wooden tables, making it a struggle to get past the neighbouring table without nudging it in order for you to sit on the grey leather bench, stretching across the redbrick sidewall of the restaurant opposite the row of wooden tables.
The snug environment makes it an excellent place to engage in conversation. The closeness of the neighbouring table encourages the chat to flow to avoid the invasion of their privacy.
The menu offers both healthy and hearty meals for people going for breakfast or lunch. There are vegetarian dishes like fruit salads and goats cheese salad bowls. Although there are no vegan dishes, as most are served with dairy, they have no problem with any dietary restrictions if you just ask.
The midweek breakfast menu finished at 12pm and offers smoothies, porridge and any amount of egg dishes to tantalise your taste buds. Cakes and pastries are made fresh daily if you’re just there for a quick bite and a coffee.
The Lovely Food Co. say that “variety is the spice of life” on their menu and the main courses on the lunch menu change daily so that you can get something new and delicious every time you visit. The main dishes are displayed on the board and all come with a serving of homemade fries, a welcomed addition to any savoury dish. There is a broad range of appetising salad bowls and sandwiches that are made to order.
Savoury scones that change daily are served warm with a sundried tomato tapenade and a herb butter are also a nice addition to the menu, something rarely seen in your average café. Traditional scones are served with whipped cream, Irish jam and real butter, not the fake hydrogenated vegetable oils that can ruin any good baking.
Artisan breads with a gluten free range make the experience one of delight. Coeliacs need not worry about enjoying their experience here as they are well catered for. Some may see this as absolute nonsense but here it fits in perfectly, adding an extra dimension of class and showing that The Lovely Food Co. care about their customers.
The wide range of Wall & Keogh herbal teas available insures that people who aren’t into the standard cup of Irish black tea are catered for.
The weekend brunch menu is a mix of the lunch and breakfast menu, bringing the best of both into a more contained sleek menu. Gourmet sandwiches like chicken and stuffing with cranberry mayo and baby leaves are served on sourdough baguettes, levelling-up your average sandwich.
The Breakfast Potato Cake comes with poached eggs, spinach, half a tomato, toasted artisan bread and black pudding with a side of hollandaise sauce. The black pudding went particularly well with the steamed spinach and poached egg. The artisan bread was perfectly toasted and not one bit soggy, something that is a common experienced while getting toast in other restaurants.
The dish cost €9.95 by itself which is very reasonable for such a flavoursome breakfast, although similar café-restaurants offer tea or coffee with breakfast included in the price.
There is a handy option on the card machine to add a tip if there is no change to hand. Waitresses are friendly and give enough time to look at the menu fully before coming to take an order, not interrupting patron’s mid conversation to ask if everything is alright, unless signalled for.
The tasteful and minimalist interior matches the satiating food wonderfully. It is a hangout spot with class but isn’t pretentious. The calm, quiet setting and lovely ambiance is perfect for a late breakfast, a coffee date or a lunch with colleagues, despite it being slightly cramped. The outdoor area is perfect for enjoying your meal among the fresh air in a charming location. The fantastic locations in Drumcondra and Terenure make it accessible to everyone in the Dublin area.
The flavourful food doesn’t break the bank and the fresh baked pastries and cakes add an extra dimension to the average café-restaurant environment. Fresh food is good food and there is nothing quite like new dishes, breads and pastries prepared daily. The Lovely Food Co. embodies everything that’s good in the culinary café world.
See for yourself: this place is just “lovely”.
Value for Money 7/10
Image Credit: Mikey Walsh