Terre Madre Café
Terre Madre Café can be found at 13a Bachelors Walk. You could miss it as it’s in the basement. However if you have an eye for art you’ll most likely spot the large photo of very content looking gent with smiling eyes looking back at you hanging from its surrounding railing.
I used to get a bus home from town (Dublin town) a few steps away from Terre Madre Café. It was nearly always open when I stood in the sun, rain and, or snow waiting for a bus to come. Often I would observe their Chef’s coming up the steps that lead to the restaurant, and watch them as they took a ramble or chatted on their phone. Often I wondered what kind of place it was and what kind of food they served. I answered this wonder when I phoned up one day and booked a table for two for an early evening dinner.
Patrick and I were the first two guests of the evening when we walked through the restaurant door. We were greeted by the charismatic Marco and advised that as it was quiet, but soon to get busy, we could choose any table we wished. We chose a round table towards the back of the restaurant.
Terre Madre Café is small, very small. It seats about 20. The walls are somewhat bare and the dining furniture is a collection of mix match tables with mix match chairs. There are a couple of dressers filled with jarred ingredients and topped with wine bottles. The counter holds bottles of wine, glassware and a coffee machine. The lighting isn’t anything to write home about and the view from the small window near the front door doesn’t hold the answers of scenery or landscape.
It’s far from luxurious and although I do believe you should never read a book by its cover. I was hoping that this cover read true. I was hoping that this minimalist styled little restaurant would be exactly what its cover read. I was hoping that when opened the door the pages of Terre Madre Café would transport us off the busy bustling Dublin streets into a café down some Italian back street where all the locals eat ….
My hope was answered, and I wouldn’t change one thing about the place. Especially when Marco told us that they put the money back into the ingredients they source rather than putting it into how the restaurant looks. Actually I think I loved it even more and its rustic charm.
The menu was small but perfectly formed. Antipasti choices ranged from €7.50 to €12.50 and included bruschetta and pancetta. Primi choices ranged from €13.50 to €16.50 and included dishes such as Pappardello with Wild Boar Ragour all Toscana and Ravioli del Plin with Black Truffle and Cheese Fondue. There were two Secondi choices, both were €18.50; Trippa (Tripe) of Chianina Veal alla Florentina and Baccala’ in Zimino. The Cheese Plate was €14.50, and Desserts were priced at €6.50 and available on request. Marco also had specials available which he explained to us before we ordered.
What I really appreciated about the menu was the size, the selection and the explanations of each dish. For example the Cheese Plate – “Parmigiano Vacche Ross served with Figs Salami” – “The Mother of modern Parmigiano. The Reggiano breed (Red Cow) is a native breed of Northern Italy, brought by the Barbaric population in the fourth century A.D. From the milk of the Red Cow, the Benedictine Monks started to produce Parmagiano-Reggiano eight centuries ago. During the last century this breed, less productive has been gradually substituted by more profitable breeds. Around 1950 the number of Red Cow was 14,000. In 1981 only 450 cow was left. Thanks to a small group of breeders we can test again this original unique cheese” … Wow!
When we dined we ordered an Antipasti each, sharing both and a Primi dish each. We enjoyed a glass of house red with our meals and finished with an espresso. The two courses we enjoyed and the never-ending basket of fresh crusty bread left us so happy we didn’t even consider a dessert but I bet they are scrumptious.
For our Antipasti course we chose the most delicious freshly imported Italian Mozzerella I have tasted from the specials Marco advised us on. It was so creamy in texture. We also shared the Terre Madre Bruschetta.
For our Primi course Patrick chose the Pappardello with Wild Boar Ragour all Toscana – this dish was described as a classic traditional recipe from the Tuscany countryside. It was hearty. Perfectly cooked pasta with the right amount of wetness and lots of flavour.
I chose the Gnocchi with Rabbit and Piopparelli (wild mushroom). The description for my dish read “Gnocchi has been a traditional Italian pasta type of probable Middle Eastern origin since Roman time. The use of potato is a relatively recent innovation, occurring after the introduction of the potato to Europe in the 16th century” I’m a big fan of gnocchi (those who follow my dining experiences will know that) and I wasn’t disappointed with this dish. It tasted fresh, and the mushrooms gave it a unique twist as most of the gnocchi I’ve tried have been cheese based only. I really enjoyed it and this photo is actually giving me a goo for it …
We didn’t stay long after our meal because we had things to do. We didn’t bother with dessert because our bellies were more than content. However Marco wouldn’t let us go without something to take with us to enjoy when we got home, a freshly delivered blood orange still with its leaves attached. It was a very sweet gesture to what was a very enjoyable experience and one we easily recommend and look forward to ourselves again.
Marco if you are reading this, you told us to bring our baby son Smith the next time we visit. You said that all the staff love children and that you’d be happy to babysit. We might just take you up on your offer … you can carry the pram down the steps …
I will now leave you with this – Terre Madre Café may be small in size, the menu may be small but it is big on hospitality and even bigger on taste, which in my opinion makes it one of Dublin’s most authentic Italian restaurants and a must experience for those who love great food.