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22nd Mar 2024

Bakery Boom – Dublin is fully embracing the need for coffee and a sweet treat

Katy Thornton

The instant serotonin boost of a freshly baked almond croissant just cannot be denied.

For people reared on Brennan’s Yellow Pan and Bundys burger buns, the bakery offering in Dublin today is quite something. Gone are the days when you would have to travel to the likes of London or Barcelona to try an almond croissant or a bread made from anything other than white bread flour. Some incredible artisan small-scale bakeries have evolved down the years and with increased rapidity during the pandemic, when everyone and their ma had a sourdough starter in the fridge.

Now we’ve always been awfully fond of a coffee and a sweet treat – that can’t be denied. But Dublin is doing what it always does when a trend becomes popular, and that’s having establishments multiply in quick succession, particularly in the last four years.

The bakery scene has always been small, but mighty. Few, and far between, but impressive in their offering. The likes of Bread 41 and Pepper Pot have been flying the mast for years, paving the way for more recent bakeries like Russell Street Bakery in Dublin 1 and microbakery Elliot’s in Dublin 7. We even have bakeries dedicated to the vegan pastry, sadly losing Drumcondra’s Bear Lemon in 2023, but luckily having Beechwood haven literally called The Treathouse, by those behind Nobó, ensuring even the dairy free can enjoy the tradition of a coffee and sweet treat.

Even the artist formerly known as Meeting Me in the Morning on Pleasants Street, now known simply as The Morning, have seriously upped their baking game in the last 18 months. Always a great spot for a slab of focaccia, the team are whipping up specials on the daily, and the entire Lovin team has sampled everything on their menu at this point, from gourmet style jambons, to sourdough donuts, and most recently, the twice baked almond pain au chocolat, with artistically done lamination. Having loved their previous form as a quirky brunch spot, I have to acquiesce that The Morning truly came into their own when they started leaning into the baked goods, more than earning first place on our list of top bakeries.

Twice baked almond pain au chocolat from The Morning

The last couple of years has seen an explosion in bakeries popping up in Dublin, the kinds of places dedicated to their craft, not just selling mass produced croissants that taste like a flip flop and have you starvin’ mere moments after consuming.

In 2024 alone we’ve seen the arrival of Scéal Bakery’s permanent premises in Greystones, with plans still underway for a Wicklow-bound Bread 41 not too far away, Una Bakery in Ranelagh, and Middle Child Bakery in Beaumont. Even amid writing this feature, Brown Bag Bakery in Roselawn Shopping Centre popped up as the newest to enter the Dublin bakery scene, opening for business this very week, with an impressive offering signalled by display pastries sitting atop brown baking parchment, with the name of the pastry scrawled below.

Not that we’re complaining – in fact, we’re buzzing at the latest trend – we couldn’t help but wonder, Carrie Bradshaw style, what has caused the surge in bakeries? Well following on from the likes of girl dinner, and the long love of a sweet treat accompanied by a coffee, especially when out for a little stomp in the fresh spring air, it’s one of the cheapest activities you can get up to that involves getting some food – considerably cheaper than going for an entire meal, or brunch where you’ve spent €25 once you’ve added a tip before you can even blink. Grabbing some seasonal goodies from Rock Bakery before going for a walk on the beach in Skerries will ultimately cost you less than a sit-down carvery, where yes you’re getting more food, but you can’t be getting all the time for what’s often a €30 price-tag. If you’re wanting to do one of these things on a weekly basis, while not dipping into savings, it’s more likely going to be the bakery run.

The trend likely only fostered moreso during the covid years; with restaurants and bars closed, one of the few ways you were allowed to socialise was visiting a café or bakery, face mask on, before finding somewhere dry or covered to munch and catch up with friends in the great outdoors. I spent many a morning or afternoon between the peak lockdown periods of 2020 and 2021 absolutely freezing my tits off, supping on an Americano for warmth, snacking on an almond croissant from The Cosy Bean (not marketed as a bakery, but they do the best almond croissants in Dublin, and do whip them up on-site) while desperately trying to maintain social connections. Just because those lockdown days are behind us (I pray for good), doesn’t mean the habit has broken – in fact, despite the fact indoor dining largely makes more sense in a city where it rains so much, my nearest and dearest tend to suggest these outdoor café and bakery haunts for a meet-up even in the year 2024, so profound were their impact.

While there will always be people moaning about paying €5 for a croissant (just see my video on Scéal) and they are well within their right to feel that way, the reason artisan bakeries of this kind are so popular is simply because while the combination of a coffee and pastry from one of these spots might verge dangerously close to the €10 mark, it’s a piece of luxury that won’t send us bankrupt. Where so many other gorgeous culinary experiences are simply not accessible for the average consumer on any kind of regular basis, a carefully put together seasonal danish once a week is not going to break the bank, and is something that could be accounted for in your monthly salary.

We all need a slice of happiness here and there, one that doesn’t cost as much as a steak dinner, and the instant serotonin of a freshly baked almond croissant is just one of the most beautiful moments one can have. To disagree once again with the Australian millionaire who accused millenials of not being able to buy homes because of their proclivity for avo toast, a fancy croissant to go with your oat flat white is not going to be the reason you’re denied a mortgage – so why not indulge and dig in?


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