Another neighborhood favorite of mine is Cafe Eriu, a delightful little restaurant on Rue Fondaudege serving up seasonal cuisine with an Irish twist. A tastefully designed coffee bar clad in dark green tile, a homey dining area, an open kitchen in the back. Brunch is great here, with both sweet and salty options. Lunch is even better, with more elaborate dishes full of creativity and expertly executed. Their Instagram is on point too and their menu always online. Here is what I’ve had at Eriu over the course of the past few months.
On Saint Patrick’ Day, they serve an Irish lamb stew, which warms the soul on a cool March day. Very tender, fall-apart lamb draped in lots of wonderful silken fat that melts in the mouth, leaving behind tons of deliciously irony lamb flavor. Stalky, sober and snappy parsnip give a great bite, while tender carrots add a touch of sweetness. Bright yellow little balls of potato keep their form up until they are bitten into, mashing almost instantly in the mouth. Sweet little pearl onions display crispy and exciting char lines. A bit of green is added by fresh parsley and some celery. And the broth is generous and rich with flavor, perfect sopped up with Eriu’s homemade soda bread, which is porous and fluffy, moist yet crumbly, and decorated with nutty little sunflower seeds.
On another occasion, I tried their grilled cheese, which came on absolutely delicious, crackly sourdough bread with beautiful bronze tan-lines and its corners dripping with butter. Some old, nutty cheddar bubbled forth between the cracks in the bread – soft, smooth and voluptuous but crispy and brittle at the edges. Some very meaty and juicy Canadian bacon added a smoky touch and porcine zest, while a tender tomato chutney seasoned with a touch of apple cider vinegar and cardamom added a kind of autumn chai or baking spice nuance to round out the saltiness of the bacon and cheese. Elsewhere pockets of hot Irish mustard added a white-hot heat to wake up the palate from the overall gooeyness of the sandwich. A damn good toastie.
With the grilled cheese, I’ve gotten the side of cabbage, carrot and fennel coleslaw made in house. Super crunchy and light, with a kind of citrusy, herby green sauce. Some apple cider pickled red onions on top for a touch of acidity.
Their brunch menu is studded with classics at their finest. I’ve had the “Eggs Royale” with two perfectly poached egg doused in a rich yet frothy-light hollandaise flavored with a touch of lemon juice and zest. The jiggly eggs top two slick layers of delicious Irish smoked salmon, which are lain over Eriu’s signature soda bread. The latter is porous and perfect for soaking up all that creamy yolky goodness. I’ve also had their Irish Breakfast over a homemade potato waffle, which is perfect when you’ve got that “grand faim.” A 64° egg, some salty bacon, some wonderfully crunchy-outside-creamy-inside white and black pudding and Eriu’s homemade “ketchup” (a kind of tomato chutney) is piled over a fluffy savory waffle. Yum. And if you like the sweet side of brunch, their “Brioche Perdu” is the right choice for you. Soft, feather-light yet delightfully eggy, melt-in-your-mouth brioche French toast is moist and bubbly on the inside while bearing a crunchy, tan crust. It’s topped with a dollop of fresh marscapone, warm roasted fig and raspberries. Nyam.