Terra Madre Café
Terra 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 Terra 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.
Terra 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 hoped that this cover read true. That this minimalist styled little restaurant would be exactly what its cover read. I was hoping that when opened the door the pages of Terra 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 Terra 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.