Brioche Cafe and Tapas Mullingar
11 Mount Street, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
Brioche Café is in Mullingar, and Kate O’Shea is smitten. This European influenced deli and café have a new evening tapas menu to compliment the daily offering.
A friend of mine was recently asked what she was doing for the weekend “We’re moving to the Blue Room” she replied. They have another reception room that they use at the weekend, a sort of in house holiday home! These are the times we live in; it’s difficult to justify socialising as a legitimate family expense and yet we need it more than ever before.
So with this in mind, I was thrilled to find an excellent restaurant which offers ambiance, European flavour, a delightfully refined buzz and all within a stone’s throw of the Mullingar Arts Centre. If you are planning an outing to the Mullingar Arts centre it would be a dreadful omission, bordering on tragic, not to visit this wonderful eatery beforehand or afterwards.
Victor Claffey, the owner, is quite simply a food hero. You feel the love and energy that Victor put’s in to this restaurant as soon as you walk through the door. All the breads are made fresh daily on the premises. The ingredients - where possible - are sourced locally and a list of local suppliers is at the bottom of each menu. I’m evangelical about this because local ingredients support local jobs, and apart from anything else the food is so much fresher.
The Brioche Cafe is open for breakfast from 8 am. There is a good lunch menu, and tapas are served from 6pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. The breakfast menu includes a full Irish at €8.50 and a mini for €7.25, a healthy option with Flahavens porridge with honey at €4, while pancakes with maple syrup are €6.50.
The lunch menu has some interesting dishes, like the black pudding served with a bed of mixed leaves with bacon bits, sundried tomatoes, and red onion and topped with a breaded egg. There’s a Caesar salad for €7.25, steak sandwich on toasted ciabatta with sauté mushrooms, served with a Brioche blue cheese dip and hand cut wedges is on at €9.95. One of my favourites, Eggs Benedict with floury Blaa (great to see this wonderful Irish dish enjoying a revival, felt a surge of food patriotism!) poached eggs and wilted spinach topped with pancetta strips and homemade Hollandaise sauce comes in at €7.75.
The wine list is very good value also, with a good selection of wines up to €30. What caught my eye in particular was the organic Italian Ciu Ciu Oris (red or white) available by the glass at €4 or €4.95 for a large glass. Both are available at €19.95 per bottle. There is also a Red from the Duro valley, the oldest wine growing region in Portugal; a perfect winter warmer at €20.50. This is from the Roquette family who have been making wines for over a century. Then there is a Rose from Bordeaux at €21.50 and a nice Cava at €30.
Brioche offer Tapas on Thursday, Friday and Saturday Evenings. I must confess I’m a huge fan of tapas; it’s such a wonderful way to enjoy food. This type of eating is very sociable and ideal for a group of friends. The tapas dishes are all around the €5 mark and there is a wonderful selection from Brochettes de Gambas (Prawns) €6.25 to Calamari’s Ramblas (Squid) at € 5.75, both of which we enjoyed. We demolished Chorizo y Patatas picante (Chorizo with potatoes) while equally good were a little burger which was served with manchego cheese and red onion marmalade.
Presentation was excellent, with delightful miniature copper saucepans for the dips. The calamari arrived in a scallop shell, while the tortilla was historic - such a classic and expertly executed. The dishes that arrived excited both the eyes and the palate in equal measure. This was all so lovingly done, with passion, energy and a natural flair. For dessert, a Ferrero Rocher cheesecake, and a sticky toffee pudding; wonderful presentation, and very tasty.
An excellent espresso finished off an altogether fantastic evening. For this money it is outstanding; Brioche has the ambiance of a much more expensive restaurant, this together with the quality and value of the food, makes it an exciting and winning combination.