A Wicklow café offers brunch, pizza and the best Danish pastry this side of the Dargle
A visit to the Firehouse Bakery Café proves to be a rewarding one, despite the occasional undersized portion
I am brunching with Hangry and Hangrier, two normally mild-mannered individuals who are being driven mad by the glorious aromas percolating around the Firehouse Bakery Café in Wicklow town.
The room is packed, and there’s a short wait before we secure a table – it’s walk-ins only, with no bookings taken. As we queue up, we watch plates of delicious-looking pancake stacks, chicken wings, halloumi salads and breakfast baps being delivered to customers, and our hunger pangs reach a peak.
“I have to have a look in the shop to take my mind off my stomach,” Hangry declares, referring to The Sports Room, which takes up the other half of this bright space on Abbey Street, and which sells a fine-looking selection of athletic gear, bikes and trainers.
He busies himself among the lycra for a bit, but before he has a chance to squeeze himself into anything, we are seated at a window table and perusing a menu that runs the gamut from light bites such as pastries, to substantial offerings like an overnight beef brisket.
Hangrier mulls over the pancakes (€9.50, kids portion €6), but his love of a good burger wins out, and the bakery smash burger (€14) is a very good one indeed. There are two patties between a homemade crusty bun, plenty of melted cheddar and some pleasingly crisp pancetta.
An accompanying bowl of skin-on fries makes this a very filling option, and the same can be said of my buttermilk chicken benedict (€12), a beast of a brunch comprising chicken, two poached eggs and pickled red onions on a wedge of brioche loaf.
The accompanying hollandaise is billed as featuring hot sauce, but there’s no discernible heat that I can taste. It’s still tasty, though, even if the chicken could do with a little more seasoning.
Hangry had ordered the huevos rancheros (€12) on the basis that it sounded pretty substantial. The list of ingredients is long – fried flour tortilla, Gubbeen chorizo, black beans, tomato and red pepper salsa, avocado, a chilli-fried egg, sour cream, pico de gallo and ‘Nduja jam – but the portion is a bit meagre.
Bumping up the tortilla element would help: the two triangular-shaped bits in the bowl don’t add much bulk. Silver linings and all that, however, because a quick trip to the counter for today’s cake and pastry selection yields a chocolate cruffin (massive, both in size and flavour), and what may be the best Danish pastry we’ve ever eaten.
With four Americanos and one soft drink, brunch for three comes to just over €60. We’ll be back to try the pizzas – both this Firehouse and the branch in Greystones offer options like the glorious-sounding Firehouse special with pancetta, Gubbeen chorizo and salami, ‘Nduja, wild venison salami, and fior di latte.
It may mean we’ll never trouble those aforementioned lycra garments, but as many great Irish people have said, sure lookit.
Firehouse Bakery Café, Abbey Street, Wicklow town, Co Wicklow, 086-0754817, thefirehouse.ie
CATHAL McBRIDE REVIEWS THE DRINKS MENU
Firehouse Bakery does not offer a wine selection, so in its absence I have a few suggestions for pairing with similar food at home. My article from last week focused on crisp whites, rosés and light reds to pair with picnic food, and would be a good reference point for wines to pair with the dishes available here.
For something different, and in the vein of a riesling, try the Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco 2020 (Whelehans Wines, whelehanswines.ie, €19) from Portugal. Full of tropical fruit aromas, medium-bodied with a balanced acidity and intriguing mineral finish, it would be an excellent match with the sandwiches like the coronation chicken on offer here.
Firehouse also offers a DIY family pizza box (€25), with dough and all the other necessities for creating your own pizza pie at home. If opting for this, the best wine options are rustic reds like sangiovese.
Try Chianti Classico, especially if you’re serving a simple margherita or a pizza with spicy pepperoni. If you’re looking to try an alternative, valpolicella ripasso is fruity yet maintains enough acidity for balance. A good value choice here is the specially selected Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore (Aldi, €9.99). With mounds of cherry fruit, it has a smooth velvety structure for a slightly richer pairing.