If I see one more converted space with lots of light, cleaned up and decorated with naked light bulbs and hard wood floors, wooden tables with mis-matched chairs, and plenty of angled hair cuts, I might scream.
Dublin cafés–or the “cool” ones anyway–all have the same aesthetic. Dublin has found it’s look. The problem is that it’s the same look as cool cafés in Paris, Berlin or Amsterdam*. When I was first living in Ireland in 2001, the best thing you could say about a bar or restaurant was that it “is just like New York!” That compliment still works (see my post here), but now Dublin bar/café/restaurant design has settled into this one look.
Blas Café has opened on Kings Inn Street, a section of North Dublin I would not have ventured to before. It is just behind the Cineworld complex, and in the no-mans-land before you get up to Phibsboro. The café is part of The Chocolate Factory, a collective of art studios and other spaces.
The building is old and has it’s huge factory windows. The windows don’t keep the cold out much, but they let in lots of light and I like the look of them. The café occupies most of the ground floor; it is a sprawling space with high ceilings and cement blocks holding it up. There is a drum set in one corner and couches at one end. There are men with large glasses and clever facial hair at computers and girls with Louise Brooks haircuts. Certainly the “locals” of this area were not present in the café.
The menu doesn’t hold anything new or particularly interesting: sandwiches, three salads, a soup and a “bowl of the day”. I had the soup and it was very good. All my dates had sandwiches and were happy. Beverages include the necessary cold press juices, Roasted Brown coffee and Wall and Keogh teas. The treats are the same ones they serve at Grove Road in Rathmines and Roasted Brown in Filmbase. That doesn’t mean they are not totally delicious, they are, and the coffee and tea is good. It’s just not different.
I suppose if something is working–stripped floors, naked bulbs, Roasted Brown Coffee–why change? But it would be nice to have different cafés around town feel and look different. If I had someone visiting from out of town, I would not be able to visit Fumbally, Blas, Grove Road, or Roasted Brown all in the same weekend. They all serve the same food and have the same aesthetic.
But, all of those places are good! You can get good tea and coffee and a decent (sometimes fantastic) sandwich. So I’m not saying I’m bored, but I’m just kind of over the look of it; and I am clearly aware that this all falls happily into the “first world problems” category.
*So I am told. I have never been myself.