DeSelby’s

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Over the past few weeks (a month? More?) we watched as the outside of a shop front on Camden Stret was painted maroon and stained glass windows were put in. “Next hipster café coming up!” said C to me. He wasn’t wrong. But here’s the thing: what was this place before it was a café?

This one has a different feel to the other hip new cafés around town. De Selby’s feels a bit like the old Bewley’s Grafton Street. Before it was Café Bar Deli and then Bewley’s again. It’s dark, and the furniture is more old fashioned. The tables and chairs are like the older places in town. There is wine along one wall and preserves and nuts and seeds along another. The ceilings are high and the walls are paneled with dark wood. Really, what WAS this place?

It does have hipster touches like chalkboard menus, open kitchen and vintage bottles of water. Old timey clocks, more than any one café needs, are dotted around.

There is a lot of fish on the menu. Tuna, fried fish, and crabmeat are sandwich options as well as a fish special of the day (confit tuna salad when I was in). There is a sausage sandwich option, ham-hock (which didn’t arrive that morning) and a Caprese for the true veggies. One soup. The menu simple but sophisticated. There is an odd balcony space above the counter. You can buy coffee makers. Roasted brown coffee is on offer and at the same prices as its other outlets around town.

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De Selby’s sign above the door outside looks like a vintage NYC diner. It doesn’t feel like an NYC diner, though. It’s a bit confusing at first because it looks more formal than an “order at the counter” café. Buts that’s what it is. A helpful man told me to drop my jacket at the table and come up and order. Then the food is delivered to you.

I felt a bit guilty ordering the fried fish sandwich. It was cold out. It’s what I wanted, if not what I needed. Imagine my relief then when it arrived and I saw that it was NOT breaded and fried, but a gorgeous open face pan fried fish sandwich. Lovely fresh caught cod lightly pan fried, well seasoned and delicious. The peas and salad were dressed really well and the whole thing was minty and lemony. There was a really decent amount of fish for a small-ish sandwich.

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I’m still not totally sold on the staff telling me that a sandwich is “really, really good” or “this is one of our best, it’s amazing”, but I suppose if you are excited about the product you’re selling other people will be too.

I arrived at about 12.30 pm and stayed until 2pm. It never got too busy. I suspect it’s hard on Camden Street–quickly becoming Dublin’s Hell’s Kitchen–to nab customers from the more established lunch places up and down the street. But I also suspect that DeSelby’s won’t stay quite for lunch for much longer.

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DeSelby’s

Camden Exchange

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Clock themed graffiti

Camden Exchange has just opened on Camden Street in what has been a long-empty building. It was used for exterior shots on the TV show Raw, and I wondered what, if anything would go into it.

Fun new places have been opening on Camden Street steadily for the past few years. There is something for everyone: tapas (Tapas de Lola), Burgers (Bunsen), Burritos (Burritos and Blues), Craft Beers (Against The Grain), Asian Street Food (neon), Middle Eastern (Jerusalem), Fancy Irish (Delahunt and Camden Kitchen), Cheap and Cheerful and Cocktails (Green 19). Camden Street is Dublin’s Hell’s Kitchen!

Camden Exchange has opened right in the middle of this dining foray. The interior is modern and hip if a bit schizophrenic. I don’t think there was a “design theme” for this space. The mood board was just all the “hip restaurant elements”: subway tiles, naked lightbulbs, wood floors, bronze grates, some graffiti, an old truck. The Guinness taps are like, “wait, what is this place? Don’t we belong in a pub?”

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Having said that, it is laid out well, there is a garden space in the back and plenty of cozy dark nooks to cuddle up in with a cocktail. The staff are very friendly and obliging. The cocktail list is extensive and includes many “mantails” that involve bacon infused bourbon. Obviously C had to try one. He opted for the one with a chili infusion as well. Because where there is bacon there should be chili? On ice?! Who knows . . . It was strong and tasty, and I believe C felt more manly drinking it. Even if it did come in a cute jar.

Those are chillies. Not raspberries.
Those are chillies. Not raspberries.

I had just come off a full day of work and my brain was in no mood to make decisions as important as “what would I like to drink?”, so I decided to try the new Guinness craft brew: Hope House 13. C had told me he was unimpressed with it. The kind bar staff at Camden Exchange allowed me to sample it before I jumped into a full pint. I thought it was crisp and light and perfect for a sunny evening. So I did take the plunge. It was good all the way down, if not knock-your-socks-off amazing. It’s lighter than other craft beers which, depending on your beer mood, could be wonderful. It hit the spot after a long day at work, that’s for sure.

C, My beer, a truck.
C, My beer, a truck.

Camden Exchange does food: Pig, Cow, Chicken or Fish. There is one dish per animal. There are also a few starters that are vegetarian. The dishes live somewhere between the American south and TexMex. We didn’t have any food, so I can’t comment, but it looked (and smelled) good.* And it all comes out of the little truck that is inside the bar, so, you know, that’s cool.

The alcohol is kept in a cage.
The alcohol is kept in a cage.

We’ll go back. I love a cocktail place close to home. More options on Camden Street can only be a good thing for everyone.

*For a full review of drinks and food, have a lookie at: http://lovindublin.com/reviews/hipster/camden-exchange-is-the-newest-kid-in-the-class-so-whats-it-like

Camden Exchange