I visited Brother Hubbard on my first trip to Dublin in 2014. Back then, it was a relatively small place, with a reputation for excellent food as well as really good coffee. So good, in fact, that after going there for breakfast, I returned for coffee later in the trip. 5½ years on, Brother Hubbard has added a second branch (Brother Hubbard South) while the original, reborn as Brother Hubbard North, has changed beyond (almost) all recognition. It’s now a takeaway joint, coffee shop, retailer and restaurant, with an on-site roastery, Farmhand, thrown in for good measure.
Normally, this would be a Coffee Spot Update, but with all the changes, I’ve gone for a complete re-write, leaving the original as is. These days Brother Hubbard serves a bespoke house-blend from in-house roaster, Farmhand, along with a single-origin on batch brew. There are grab-and-go goodies from the takeaway counter to the left, or you can sit in and enjoy breakfast, brunch or cake with your coffee. Finally, in the evenings, there’s a small but innovative dinner menu five nights a week. The space, by the way, is huge, with a long, thin indoor seating area, outdoor terrace and magnificent dining room.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Brother Hubbard North has three entrances, two (including the original) on Capel Street and a third at the back, around the corner on Mary’s Abbey, which is used for dinner in the evenings. Starting on Capel Street, what I knew as Brother Hubbard, on the left, is now the takeaway counter, with, I believe, the roastery at the back. However, I was there at the weekend and since it’s only open during the week, I wasn’t able to look inside.
Back in 2014, Brother Hubbard had just occupied the (small) space to the right, known as Little Brother. Back then, it operated as the takeaway side of the operation, but now it’s the Brother Hubbard’s main entrance. The door opens onto a long corridor, although the very front hosts a flower shop, the remainder of the corridor lined with retail shelves, selling coffee equipment, retail bags of beans and various other items, including the Brother Hubbard cookbook.
At the back, a long counter extends to the right, with twin La Marzocco Linea espresso machines. You can order takeaway coffee here, or, if you’re staying, turn right, past the end of the counter and head on towards the back, where Brother Hubbard extends a long way down Mary’s Abbey. It’s table service, so wait here (next to the cakes) to be seated. There are two rows of tables which run along the windows on the right-hand side, while a third row runs down the covered terrace on the other side of the windows, separated from the street by waist-high planters.
That would be enough for most coffee shops, but not Brother Hubbard. At the back, where you’ll find the evening door on the right, Brother Hubbard extends to the left, providing space for yet more tables, before opening out onto the most amazing dining room, with a double height ceiling, capped with a large, peaked skylight. There’s a separate counter and bar down here, plus plenty more tables, including three rows opposite the bar and more beyond them at the far end. This is where dinner is served, but it’s also open for coffee during the day.
I visited Brother Hubbard North twice, once for dinner on Saturday night and again the following afternoon for coffee and cake. Brother Hubbard made its name serving inventive menus with a Middle-eastern twist and nothing much has changed. The concise dinner menu has a number of small plates, ideal for sharing, plus several large plates and a separate feast menu (specifically for sharing), all offering plenty of vegetarian and vegan choices.
I decided to go for two of the small plates, plus a side of halloumi fries, which were awesome. My small plates were the crispy, battered cauliflower, which was crunchy and surprisingly spicy, plus the charred aubergine, which came with some lovely flatbread. The aubergine was excellent, with a pomegranate, grapefruit, tahini and pistachio filling. If you’re looking for something to drink with your meal, there’s a good selection of beer, wine, spirits and cocktails.
On my return, I passed on the option of breakfast/brunch, having enjoyed that experience at Brother Hubbard South the day before (although I note that the two have different menus, which is good to see). Instead, I settled for a baklava roll, an excellent concoction of cinnamon walnuts in filo pastry, which was rich, soft and chewy. I paired this with a cortado, served in a flat white cup. I’d already sampled the Farmhand house-blend in a flat white at Brother Hubbard South, but here its fruity notes came through clearer still, coffee and milk in perfect harmony.
|153 CAPEL STREET • DUBLIN 1 • IRELAND
|+353 1 441 1112
|07:30 – 17:00
|Farmhand (espresso + batch brew)
|07:30 – 22:00
|Tables with benches/stools
|07:30 – 22:00
|Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cake
|07:30 – 22:00
|07:30 – 22:00
|Cards + Cash
|09:00 – 22:00
|09:00 – 17:00
|Original: 11th May 2014
|Updates: 12th, 13th October 2019
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