Walking through Dublin you'll pass dozens of pubs advertising a "full Irish breakfast" -- usually eggs, bacon, multiple sausages, fried tomato, mushrooms, and beans. The I even saw one that had a sign out front: Anthony Bourdain Loves Our Full Irish Breakfast! I was pleased to notice that a handful of them also made a big deal about having a vegetarian version of this breakfast. But what does that mean, exactly?
The plate above was at a restaurant near Dublin Castle called The Larder. Instead of bacon and sausages they offered sauteed spinach and fried halloumi cheese (the Greek cheese famous for its ability to be grilled without melting through the grates). The spinach was not seasoned at all, but the halloumi was an inspired choice. Both salty and chewy, the halloumi makes total sense as a meat replacement. Unfortunately the poached eggs were lukewarm and pretty much everything on the plate (minus the halloumi) needed a generous sprinkle of salt. The tea, with milk and sugar, was pretty good.
Much better was a riff on the the traditional breakfast, which I found at a small coffee shop called Brother Hubbard. This kept the beans and the poached eggs, but topped them with whipped feta and za'atar (a spice mix containing sumac and sesame, among other things). This was a satisfying and successful mixture: sweetness from the beans, richness from the eggs, offset by the tangy saltiness of the cheese. I know it's not traditional, and Anthony Bourdain might scoff, but when it's so delicious who cares?
The Larder -- 8 Parliament St, Dublin
Brother Hubbard -- 153 Capel St, Dublin