On the corner of King's Inn Street and Loftus Lane, just steps away from the bustle of Parnell Street, Blas Cafe offers a bright, lofty spot for a bite to eat and a great cup of coffee. It feels like a well kept secret, only a couple of hundred feet off the beaten path.
The cafe occupies a generous segment of the old Williams & Woods Chocolate Factory—a performance space and bustling hub of creativity. It retains the tall windows and stripped back brick walls from its time as a factory, but manages to be a soft environment, despite its industrial past.
The furniture is all reclaimed—which in a smaller space would be kitsch, but somehow the high ceilings and generous floor space—bathed in stunning natural light—give each unique table a lovely sense of privacy. It’s a dream spot for those seeking the perfect quiet hideaway to work or read in the bustle of Dublin city. Free Wi-Fi and plenty of quiet.
During a quick chat, Hassan Lemtouni, one of three owners along with partners Eoin Williams and Tuathal McClenaghan, describes their La Marzocco Linea Classic setup as “The Rolls Royce of Coffee”—old fashioned, but reliable. (As it happens, Blas is one of the few cafes in Dublin that use La Marzocco—this tends to be a town full of Aurelias and Black Eagles. In this choice, they truly set themselves apart.) The menu is very espresso-heavy, which makes their selection more approachable to local patrons than a filter-focused selection. Their beans are supplied by Roasted Brown, a powerhouse coffee supply start-up and cafe who roast just over the water in London, within Notes Coffee. However, plans are underway for Roasted Brown to open a domestic Irish roastery.
Blas has a really strong educational relationship with the folks at Roasted Brown. Folks from Roasted Brown regularly train up the Blas baristas to ensure that each different variety of coffee that arrives gets specifically suited treatment and preparation. Lemtouni speaks very highly of his supplier, noting the strong sense of community that comes from working so closely with another Irish business—a personal touch.
Blas also has a heady organic tea selection from Wall & Keogh, and is also one of the uncommon Dublin spots that offers a matcha latte.
The sprouts and greens that fuel an impressive and colorful salad selection are grown in two separate Get Up & Grow sprouter cabinets by the counter. You really can’t get any more farm-to-table given that the produce grows ten feet away from the kitchen! The poached eggs and avocado on sourdough toast I ordered arrived in enamel dishes, littered with rocket that was so peppery and fresh that it was almost akin to nettle. My brunch companion noted that until this meal, she hadn’t realized that rocket could even have a taste. We made quick work of them. Their beetroot slaw and garlic paté sandwiches are most definitely worth keeping an eye out for—their menu revolves regularly with whatever is in season.
The selection of gorgeous and unusual cakes and pastries laid out on the counter is downright dangerous—some are prepared in-house, the more floral are provided by fellow Northside business Wildflour Bakery, based just up the road in Stonybatter. This is another tender example of Northside Dublin businesses working in tandem, and adds to the strength of the community vibe that Blas radiates—it’s a real treat to have access to these delicious cakes this close to the city center without having to make the trek up the Luas line. Their passionfruit and raspberry cream sponge cake is garnished with fresh cream and striking purple and orange petals, passionfruit baked into the batter of the cake and the center layer of cream scattered with fresh raspberries—the resulting effect is a treat that’s both tart and sweet while remaining surprisingly light.
Blas surely won’t remain one of the Northside’s best kept secrets for long—as we spoke, Lemtouni was in the process of booking its second wedding of the year. The venue and menu and considered coffee presentation make it a gorgeous, organic spot for a quick stop, a long lunch, or a quiet work day. It’s an approachable, unpretentious place in an old, authentically Dublin neighborhood, somewhere it would be hard to feel out of place. It’d be a challenge to leave and not feel a little better—perked up and well fed.
Sarah Maria Griffin (@griffski) is a writer based in Dublin. She is the author of the acclaimed memoir Not Lost and has contributed to The Rumpus, Midnight Breakfast, and The Tusk. Read more Sarah Maria Griffin on Sprudge.