Portobello’s Cosy Catch Up Spot – Alma Cafe Review
Alma, having recently celebrated their first birthday, has gone from new kid on the block to being a stand out cafe on The South Circular Road. Now I know that can be a bold statement with powerhouses such as Little Bird, Noshington and Brother Hubbard (South) dotting the same street. However, a clever mix of Argentinian flavour spread across its menu, a delicious selection of pastries welcoming you as you walk in the door and a homely selection of tea and coffee choices make Alma somewhere you would not only pop into if you were walking past, but somewhere you would and should, make time to visit.
As I walked through the cafes entrance, I was immediately hit with warm mellow music, just noticeable over the tempting noise of a barista preparing a cappuccino. The selection of cakes and pastries along with the seemingly endless plates of hot food coming out, give this café the feel of being mouldable to whatever your palate desires. Set amidst a grey and white décor, the small interior of Alma emanates cosiness. Not a café to go to with a group of people considering its size and the fact only one table can fit more than two people, Alma is a café built for a catchup with a friend, a quiet lunch to yourself, or to simply sit in and watch the busy world of Portobello go by.
As it was only a flying visit, and I am still pretending to myself that I am doing a healthy January, I didn’t get a chance to sample any food. However, from the enviable smile on everyone’s face around me as they tucked into their plates full of colourful delight, I can confidently say they appeared to be delicious. When this month is over I can’t wait to come back and sample all! I did thankfully get a chance to taste the coffee and as one would expect for a coffee shop to survive in Portobello, it did not disappoint. Unsurprisingly, Alma serves one of Dublin’s best-known coffee blends being Two Fifty Square Speciality Coffee. My cappuccino, light to drink, yet strong in flavour, mixed with a friendly and efficient service was just the pick me up I needed in my morning slumber. Slightly more expensive than your typical Dublin coffee prices at €3.40, I somehow felt it was worth the extra cost. I appreciate service with a smile that produces a good product and does so efficiently and being honest, Alma nailed every one of these elements.
For the tea drinkers out there, all teas are served by the pot and can be chosen from a wide selection of Wall & Keogh blends. If you have the time to sit in and immerse yourself in the inviting atmosphere the café has to offer, I would recommend relaxing with a pot of tea, sitting by the window on a high stool and enjoying the busy world go by. If you are willing to brave the cold, or if you are like me and want to wait until warmer climates, the small outdoor section out front would be the perfect place to relax in the sun, read a book or enjoy some music. The clever mix of interior and exterior furniture invites guests of all ages to come and enjoy Alma and if the coffee and atmosphere doesn’t tempt you, then maybe the fact that Alma donates some of their profits to the DSPCA will!
Overall, Alma gets an A1, or whatever the Leaving Cert equivalent nowadays is from me. Their coffee, staff, selection of food and overall atmosphere is something that will most definitely push Alma to the top of my list the next time I am in town and thinking of where to go. Whoever says small cafes can’t pack a punch, or an area that is already full of cafes doesn’t need one more, should take a trip to Alma and see just how wrong they are.
WRITTEN BY GREGORY MURPHY
Photos by Bríd O’Donovan