Helen Cunningham’s Phoenix Café was voted Best Café in The Irish Times Best Shops Awards in 2016.
That didn’t surprise anyone who has ever eaten in this inspired destination in Dublin's Phoenix Park.
The judges didn’t use it but, if they had been allowed only one word to summarise why Helen's café won, then the word would have to be: Vivid.
The food they offer is wonderfully vivid: the flavours are bright and focused all the way through a gorgeous lamb and chickpea tagine, all the way through a superlative ham and Wicklow cheddar quiche, all the way through a superb beef lasagne. This is in no small measure because they are using produce straight from the gardens outside – you can even buy the vegetables to take home with you. With just-picked leaves, their salads are vivid – meticulously cooked lentil salad, crisp and tangy carrot salad, and an especially vivid kimchi, all of them delivering healthfulness under the guise of deliciousness.
But it’s not just the food that makes The Phoenix a winner. The atmosphere in the rooms, the alertness of the staff, the comfort of the customers, all combine to grace this not-so-well-kept secret with a pulsing, energised character. The Phoenix is one of those happy rooms where the energy comes from the fact that everyone eating here knows that they are onto A Good Thing.
An award-winning Good Thing, of course.
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