Meal Ticket: Berlin Café & Bierhaus, Dublin 2

Berlin is a cafe space that pays homage to the creative city to whom Ireland has lost many an Irish artist

Berlin Café & Bierhaus
    
Address: Clarendon Street, Dublin 2
Cuisine: Fusion

On the corner of Coppinger Row and Clarendon Street in Dublin sits a cafe space that pays homage to the creative city to whom Ireland has lost many an Irish artist; Berlin.

I was distrustful when I first saw the Berlin sign in the summer of 2014, when it first opened. Much like an inauthentic Italian restaurant called “Rome” or “Napoli”, it feels like a disingenuous marketing tool, an attempt to shift a few coffees through the association of a vibey city. I also bristle at the idea that we have to bring a bit of Berlin to Dublin to make it cool. I wasn’t expecting to like it, so when I find myself being comforted within its walls by a bowl of warm soup on a cold day, I’m pleasantly surprised by the space and how it’s being used.

Chairs and sofas line the street outside of the cafe, which curls around the corner of the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre. Inside, the high- ceilinged space is filled with long, communal wooden benches for punters and a long, wooden counter for the baristas.

When I visit, the soup of the day (€5.50) is a hearty tomato soup served with toasted sourdough bread. Other options include a daily hotpot (€8) and a salad plate of four salads, which can include bulgar wheat and shredded pickled cabbage, for €7.50. Paninis (still popular in Berlin?) include old favourites such as mozzarella and tomato. It’s an unambitious menu but it’s done well. The coffee is brewed with care and often comes adorned with a bear through the medium of latte art. There are pretzels on the coffee bar, and next to them are cakes by Paleo Man Foods, an excellent gluten- and dairy-free dessert company that also supplies Kaph around the corner on Drury Street.


Where this Dublin café captures some of Berlin’s cultural spirit best is the multi-purpose use of this space. It’s a daytime café that doubles up as a venue and DJ space for small, regular gigs, and the room is well suited for it. Monday nights offer Dublin’s buskers the chance to sing with a roof over their heads and for you to discover new talent (you’ve been warned). Recently, a Cabaret Quiz Show was held on a Tuesday evening. Saturday nights are given over to Disko Tapes from 6pm till late, where just a few weeks ago Olan O’Brien from All City Records was a guest DJ. Beers are available too; last month a Brat & Bier special was on offer to celebrate Oktoberfest.

So it turns out Berlin isn’t here to make a statement about Dublin; instead it’s trying to celebrate a slice of Berlin’s multipurpose bar culture on a Dublin corner.

Aoife McElwain

Aoife McElwain

Aoife McElwain, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a food writer