Last night I went to see a production of The Dead, as an Opera. James Joyce’s story was set to a string quartet and a quartet of actor/singers sang and spoke some of his words. It was pared down and elegant and evocative. I need to read the story again. You should to. Let’s all do it!
The Dead is set in a large Georgian townhouse on the Dublin quays at Christmas time. There is dancing, live music and a large, festive supper including a goose, a leg of lamb and a ham. Snow falls outside as the guest’s personal dramas unfold in the warm interior.
Cobalt Café is on the first floor of a house that could easily have been Aunt Julia and Aunt Kate’s in The Dead. It is the kind of place that American tourists dream Dublin is filled with. Located in the two front rooms of a grand old house with views out to a garden terrace out one window and across to a handsome line of Georgian houses out the other.
Cobalt Café is in a part of town I am not overly familiar with. I was walking up North Great George’s street to our office the other day and spotted a sign out front. As I was leaving the office hours later, and wanting some lunch, I popped my head in to see if it was just a coffee and tea place. No, there is a wide selection of sandwiches, soups and salads. The menu is simple (ham and cheese, tuna melt, chicken club), but there is always a special plate of the day that is more involved. When I was there it was chickpea and potato curry.
The café has some Celtic Tiger decorating schemes that don’t add any charm, but overall I felt I could sit happily for a lot longer than time allowed. It did help that it was decorated for Christmas and the sun was streaming in and it wasn’t too busy.
It got a bit more busy in the time I was there, mostly groups of older women and a threesome of Spanish tourists.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the café is run by a daughter and her parents. At least a mother daughter team. That wouldn’t necessarily make the food taste better, but there is something nice about it. My tuna melt hit the spot, by the way.
It is special to be in these big old houses and to see them being kept up and filled with people. There might not have been dancing and a goose, but hey, we can’t have it all.