Mon 15 Aug 2011
“Don’t you regret moving away?”
As I stood in the new Brown Hound Bakery, co-owner Reuven Diaz’s words hung in the air along with the luscious buttery scent of just-baked biscuits, cakes and scones. My senses were overloading at the scene: stacks of perfectly-crisp cookies under sparkling glass domes; steam whistling from the shiny espresso maker working overtime to fill coffee orders; and piles of crusty breads peeking out of woven baskets.
I didn’t say it out loud, but in that moment I did feel a pang of regret that I had upped sticks and moved to Dublin a few months ago, away from this haven of homemade goodness so sleek and gorgeous it would fit right into Greenwich Village. But Brown Hound Bakery is in unsuspecting Drogheda, next door to Reuven and wife Jeni’s *other* foodie show-stopper, the Eastern Seaboard Bar & Grill. Damn you, lucky residents of the Drog!
Though it opened only four weeks ago, Brown Hound Bakery is already causing a stir in this relatively quiet northeastern town. Rumour has it people line up in the mornings for BH’s fresh-fried pumpkin doughnuts and perfect coffee, a special blend made just for the bakery. So it was only natural to gather a group of Irish Foodies – cameras in tow – to take a look and investigate further, and last Saturday we met up with Reuven and Jeni for a first-hand tour of their new baby.
The bakery was everything we expected and more; from cheesy parmesan biscuits (the American version, not the cookie variety) to banana bread literally bursting with chunks of perfectly-ripe bananas, the place is a carb-lovers dream. Jeni explained that the inspiration for many of the baked goods came from New York-based baker Craig Thompson, owner of Shandaken Bake in the Catskills Mountains. Craig, armed only with recipes and sweet determination, came out to Drogheda for three months to train the bakery staff. Many of the baked goods were inspired by memories of his childhood and treats made by his mum and grandmother.
Brown Hound is decorated with a variety of old and new items, some of which are for sale. Jeni has the impeccable taste of Jackie O and an eye for design like no other; she has more style in her pinky nail than I have in my entire being (and somehow manages to stay enviably slim despite being around amazing food all day – Jeni, share your secret!). There are beautiful glass plates featuring intricate designs and bottles of jade-green Spanish olive oil illuminating the shelves here – it really is a feast for the eyes.
After our tour we walked next door to have dinner at Eastern Seaboard, one of my favourite restaurants in the whole of Ireland (and the world, really). Our end of the table decided to share a bunch of appetizers: garlic grab claws, smoked mackerel pate (my fave!), pig cheek terrine, crab cakes and a butcher board loaded with pates. We even passed our mains around so everyone could try a bit of everything; I had bites of rabbit loin with bacon, sea bream, salmon, Asian cole slaw, French lentils and lots of beautiful, fresh-baked bread. We shared numerous bottles of wine and moved the party to the bar after dinner for a nightcap before catching the last train home to Dublin.
It was a lovely evening and I think it’s fair to say everyone had a great time. Jeni and Reuven were kind enough to gift us with little boxes containing some Brown Hound Bakery treats like chocolate banana bread and a fruit/shortbread biscuit. Thanks to all who came out for the Irish Foodies adventure: The Daily Spud, I Can Has Cook, DinnerduJour, Gunternation, Caryna’s Cakes, Kuchennie, Monica, Grainne, Gracie Bakes, Katz Miaow and Smorgasblog.
And thanks to Reuven and Jeni for continuing to up the bar for restaurateurs in Ireland with their innovative and inspiring businesses. The pair have also recently opened Mo’s, a takeaway next door to Brown Hound that features a variety of to-go dishes like fish ‘n chips, corndogs (!!), cold Asian noodles and more.