I heard a stat the other day on the radio that Insomnia cafe sell 11 million cups of coffee a year. Are people absolutely, completely and utterly bat shit crazy? I mean I get the fact that their locations are usually pretty handy, the coffee is hot and chains have red cups at this time of year, but 11 million cups? Actually the coffee I can understand, but when I walk into Starbucks or Insomnia it is the cakes and treats that I can't stand. They've clearly been made in a factory in somewhere like Slough and taste like exactly what they are mostly made from… Vegetable oil. Anytime I do end up in those places looking for something mildly healthy to eat I end up with a choice between a dodgy tuna sandwich and the banana that everyone has been pawing at the counter.
Luckily there are some places that buy in way nicer cakes and then there are the rare coffee shops that makes their own in-house. This is very common on the continent in places like France where they still cherish the art of artisanal baking, but is harder to find in Ireland than a punter happy to pay their water charges. As a result of writing for this website I'm constantly discovering new places in Dublin that I'd ignored in the past. Sasha House Petite is a little coffee shop in potentially one of the worst location in the world. It is literally inside a car park on Drury Street. You've probably walked past it 100 times like myself but ignored it because of the fumes and awkward stop-start nature of walking across the entrance to a car park. Blink and you'll miss it.
You couldn't swing a cat in the place. Despite the small space they make their own coffee and have a pastry chef who makes all their cakes, breads and little treats in-house. They also serve lunch during the week and a simple brunch menu at the weekend. You'd get a bigger kitchen in an €800 bedsit but that doesn't stop them creating some of the best and freshest pastries in town. The best thing here is that the menu changes all the time. On the day I was in I had a fresh eclair which was light and divine. The complete opposite of the processed ones that are sold in Irish supermarkets piped full of whipped cream and with ridiculous fillings like jam. It's creme patissiere all the way here and their eclairs are the perfect treat to enjoy with a coffee.
The thing about Sasha's (Dublin's first French / Slavic pastry bar as they say on the website) is that it truly is a hidden gem. Most people are too busy hustling by to the well known trendy places like Kaph, Fallon and Byrne or worse still to get a bucket of steaming sludge out of Starbucks to notice that this place exists. Next time you're in town shopping or just parking the car, sit in here and people watch with an epic little pasty and help this little treasure of a cafe. They won't sell 11 million cups of coffee this year and I don't know how they make a decent profit, but thank god they exist. They also get bonus marks for embracing matcha (drinks and cakes!) and having free wifi. Support them.