Café at Industry

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It is nice  to walk into Industry on Drury Street and not have to leave 10-15 minutes later feeling angry that I simply cannot afford to pay over 50 euro for some nesting wire baskets. Happily for me, the food at the café is affordable and delicious.

The menu is like an upmarket Blazing Salads (Industry’s neighbor) with the added carnivore offerings of meat or fish. There were seven salad options the other day and two protein options. Salad options included a beet and goats cheese, c0uscous, grilled sweet potato, grilled broccoli, green lentil, carrot, and green beans with sugar snaps. Protein options were cold chicken breasts smothered in an herb yogurt sauce and cold grilled salmon.

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I had the chicken and two green salads. An extra broad bean salad was brought out when I was about halfway through my meal which I thought was unfair. It looked like a mountain of creamy orange bean goodness.

There are four vegetable juices to choose from, all the coffee confections you could hope for and plenty of flourless dessert treats. So if you just want a snack or a quick coffee, you’re taken care of. Whatever your choice, you’ll be hard pressed to choose badly. The food is fresh and tasty, the coffee is good and according to an overheard conversation the cookies are “excellent”.

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It’s nice to sit in Industry and watch the people walk by. Even though I cannot afford the candles, blankets, or hip leather backpacks they sell, sitting amongst those treasures, eating yummy food is some consolation. If you’ve got a cape or giant scarf that can be slung around like a cape, you’ll be even closer to fitting in with your surroundings.

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Café at Industry

Cobalt Café

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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A Hat for All Seasons–Parked Outside
Cobalt Café

The Good Food Store

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Late last year and early this year saw the closing of many small shops along George’s Street between Fade St and the Arcade. Some were more emotional to see go than others. Although I hadn’t been into Laser Video since 2002, it still stung as the shutters went down. The Asian food store I was less emotional about; there is another one around the corner.

Following the world wide trend towards “cute” and “attractive” and “oh I didn’t know organic wine could be so good!” health-food stores, The Good Food Store lands just behind the 65 bus stop.

I was reaching level 3 (of 5) Hanger Factor when I passed TGFS on my way to somewhere else. I ducked my head in to see if there was  a place to sit. There is! And there was a vacant stool! Fate, obviously.

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I ordered a grilled halloumi sandwich with spinach and roasted red peppers. The service was efficient. While I waited I perused the specialty juices, yogurts and myriad olive oils and vinegars on offer. It took all my will power to not to open (and then pay for) a bag of Sweet n Salty organic popcorn.

Will power sufficiently lowered, I did spring for a “healthy” fruit and nut bar to have after my sandwich.

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There are a few seats along a bar area in the back and one large table that serves as a place for customers to enjoy their food and drink, as well as a display table for the very involved Christmas Hampers that are for sale. I had to move one just to have a space for my little sandwich.

The store also sells Turkish blankets and beautiful bowls in various sizes all made in Tunisia. There is wine for purchase and the paper lanterns that are the main design feature in the store.

It’s a nice, if slightly distracting place to sit. A friend came to join me and I had a hot chocolate that hit the spot. Bullseye!

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When I sit in a place long enough to really look at what’s on offer, obviously I won’t walk out empty handed. I grabbed a bottle of wine and a very amusing greeting card. One stop shop!

It’s great to have another place in town to grab a healthy lunch or a perfect hot cocoa. Or a star lantern. Or a turkish blanket. Or an organic soap. You know, whatever you might need at lunchtime!

The Good Food Store

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.

DeSelby’s

Avoca Café

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“Should we go to Avoca for tea, then?”

“Oooohhh, will we?”

“We deserve it! We can share a scone!”

“Ok! What a treat!”

Then my friend, Charlie, and I would giggle and excitedly make for Avoca on Sussex Street. This was when we were at Trinity and going to Avoca for tea and a scone was a big treat. It made us feel fancy. It made us feel grown-up. It was so cozy and certainly a place where we wouldn’t run into many—if any—Trinity students. Avoca was the perfect place to feel unlike a student while getting to catch up on all the gossip and news of student life.

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What we like best about the trip to Avoca was walking through the shop on the way up to our tea and scones. There are books, socks, scarves, blankets, jewelry, nail polish, kitchen stuff, jam, teapots, greeting cards and mittens that fill the floors below the third floor café. It was a feast for our eyes, fingers and wish lists before we even got up to order our scones.

Avoca scones are legendary, and they deserve such high standing. They are big and fluffy and soft and chewy. They are the antithesis to the horrifying “cold scone” you are lumped with at 4am as you make your decent into Dublin airport on an Aer Lingus flight. Note to all readers: I strongly recommend avoiding this cold scone at ALL COSTS. Please wait the few hours until Avoca opens and go there.

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But Avoca also serves wonderful proper meals as well. I rarely go to Avoca. It is always busy with tourists and Ladies Who Lunch. I walk past it frequently, I duck out of a passing shower to finger the new scarves and socks, and I tell absolutely everyone who is visiting Dublin to put Avoca high on their list. But when was the last time I had actually been?

I couldn’t satisfactorily answer that question, so I took myself on a little date there this past weekend. I waited twenty minutes for a table. I thought my 2.15 arrival would mean that I missed the lunch rush but I was wrong. I was also stupid. Who abides by the 1-2 lunch hour on a Saturday?

I didn’t mind the wait as I got to sit under a plethora of silver teapots and read the Irish Times. Many copies are scattered about for the overflow of guests. Also I had time. Don’t aim for lunch at Avoca if you have somewhere you Need To Be.

The menu isn’t too large, but full of plenty of interesting—all healthy—options. There’s chicken, smoked salmon, pulled pork, and lamb as well as a mélange of veggie options and the necessary soup of the day.

I had the vegan option. Not because I’m a vegan but because I felt like a giant salad and I knew I’d be having a lot of meat at dinner. I ordered the quinoa butternut squash cakes. They themselves were a tad bit bland, but the salad that came with them was fantastic: greens, thinly sliced cucumber, fennel and carrot with some herbs and pomegranate seeds. There was also some beetroot and horseradish crème that was delicious. I could have used approximately 100% more than I was given.

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I didn’t partake of a scone and tea on this visit. I need Charlie or Cian or Aoife or Jane—or all of them!—for that.

PS: Avoca Cafés also exist in other various locations around Ireland. Here for more: http://www.Avoca.com and you can take home their recipes in the form of many cookbooks and jams and chutneys, etc from the shop downstairs!

Avoca Café

Coppa at the Royal Hibernian Academy

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Ok, ok, ok, another gallery I didn’t know existed with another lovely Dublin café. Will wonders never cease? How long have I lived here (five years) and how often have I walked down Baggot Street (many) and how often have I turned up the road to the RHA (never)? Well, I did it today.

My sister suggested we meet there. I’d never heard of it. What? I said to C, “hey, Biz just got me about this awesome café at the RHA. Where even is that?” C said, “oh yeah, Coppa! It’s great! Duck and I used to go there a lot when our office was around the corner.” Ok, so maybe I am the last to know?

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I went specifically to go to Coppa. I needed a middle of the day place to get lunch and a coffee and sit and do some writing. Coppa is perfect for this. The modern facade of the RHA, with it’s glass floor to ceiling windows looks out onto “classic Dublin” Ely Place. It’s a quiet, beautiful Georgian street with carnations in the first floor window boxes. CUTE.

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Coppa is cozy, but sleekly designed. Good wood, grey details, a chalkboard and a pile of cakes and scones. The coffee is good, the menu is not too large, and I was happy to find a good range of cookbooks to peruse as a form of procrastination.

The clientele looks like a Fumbally overflow: young, busy, attractive Dubliners getting a healthy lunch. All the sandwiches come with soup (which I had. Tomato and basil. Very hearty and lightly spicy) or a choice of salads. The prices are in line with all the cafés in town.

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I arrived about 11.30 and it was fairly quiet without being slow. It got properly busy and buzzy at lunch time, then at about 1.45 it started to quiet down again.

I had the smoked salmon sandwich: open faced, beets, horseradish creme, avocado, rocket and a generous helping of salmon. It was all on homemade Guinness and treacle bread. Win.

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The only thing that was not perfect was that the service was slow. I wasn’t sure (and I’m not positive they were either) about whether to order at the counter or at my seat. Both times I got up and had to find someone to take my order. It’s busy, but not really busy enough for that nonsense.

On this particular trip I didn’t get to visit the gallery. I will be back though. Coppa is pretty sweet, and from what I saw of the gallery already, I’m itching for more. I love a new Dublin discovery!

Coppa at the Royal Hibernian Academy

Alchemy Juice Bar

As hundreds of tired, partied out ragamuffins make their way through Dublin today with their backpacks, sleeping bags and left over glow-in-the-dark necklaces from Electric Picnic, I am in “back to school” mode after my month home in the States. It was a magical month full of sunshine, lake swimming, corn on the cob and the best tomatoes in the world. But I’m happy to be back in Dublin amidst the buzz of the Fringe Festival, the cooler days, and early autumn light.

I mean, it has an A on it. Hard to resist.
I mean, it has an A on it. Hard to resist.

I know that you are sick of me talking about iced coffee on this blog. But as it is September, and Dublin is fully in early autumn mode, I will shut up about it all after this: I found Dublin’s version of an Iced Cubano out in the wild today. Happily, I found it at Alchemy Juice Bar, which I have never written about on this blog.

I would also try number 2. For Sure.
I would also try number 2. For Sure.

I haven’t written about it because I hadn’t really ever been. Or, I’d seen it (it’s upstairs in BT2) but I’d never bought anything.

Alchemy replaced a Starbucks. It is now a much lighter, brighter, more modern space. I went up there for a juice or a coconut water (and to use the restroom), but then saw that their coffee menu had not only three iced coffee variations but two that I really wanted to try.

Luckily for me, two of my favorite flavours, cinnamon and maple syrup, are having a “moment” because even healthy bunnies who only visit juice bars at break-time rave about the benefits of both.

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The Alchemy Iced Cubano–which doesn’t know it’s an Iced Cubano. Only I know that it is–is delicious. It is almost as delicious as the original. It is a tad too sweet for my liking. I could have done with a quarter of the cinnamon syrup. I could have, and should have, said something as I watched the pretty blond health nut squeeze the syrup into my cup.

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Alchemy really isn’t about iced coffees, it’s about juices, power balls, and too expensive bags of chia seeds. There is free wifi, though, and it is light and bright and really probably one of the best places in Dublin to sit and watch the world go by.

Alchemy Juice Bar