So, next Sunday, the WCE descends on Dublin for meetings about the WBC and other prestigious coffee events. It is a rare occurrence to have so many luminaries in Ireland, probably being the first such occasion, and is unlikely to be repeated until 2013 when Ireland hosts the WBC*
So – welcome. I shall be marking the occasion by flying to the west coast of the US. It’s not you, it’s me.
Anyway here are some tips for visitors – places to see, people to do…
The first stop many of you will have in mind will undoubtedly be 3FE, Colin Harmon’s unique cafe serving Hasbean coffee. It is pretty much bang in the city centre, and Dublin city centre is small enough really to walk everywhere. Go there, have a tasting menu. Check out some of the very tasty baked things.
Down the quays there is Karl Purdy’s Coffee Angel operation (several locations), which has served some of the best coffee to Dublin’s financial district for many years. Karl serves coffee from Bailies from both mobile units and indoor locations. Stop by en route to the Point Village and the (relatively new) Dublin Wheel – a completely unique idea that has absolutely nothing in common with the London Eye.
Another City Centre spot worth a nod are Murphy’s Ice Cream, again serving Hasbean coffee. Expect a different take on espresso here than in 3FE – bigger, wilder flavours (think natural process instead of washed). V60 also available. Great ice-cream. If ever there was a place to get an affogato…
For beer, there are a couple of interesting spots. The Porterhouse occupies a three storey location on Parliament St on the edge of Temple Bar. At the weekends (Friday/Saturday) I’d consider it a no-go, unless you really love cramped spaces, loud music and travelling hen/stag parties. During the week, however, it reverts to a more local audience, and space is more freely available. Your reward – their own range of beers on tap, of which I am particularly fond of the Oyster and Wrasslers stouts, both of which leave mass marketed stuff for dead. Also available in bottle (and seasonally on tap) is a massive selection of excellent international beers. The food in the Porterhouse is fine, if a little unremarkable. However, of note across the road, a guilty pleasure may be had in the form of Zaytoon – a turkish Kebab house which I have frequented all too often – far from haute cuisine but it provides an excellent service for the community.
Up the road from the Porterhouse near Christchurch Cathedral is The Bull & Castle ostensibly a Gastro Pub, though I would put the emphasis more on Pub than Gastro, as the food, like the Porterhouse is of the fine, yet unremarkable quality (see comment/rebuttal below from The Beer Nut re their steaks). They tend to offer more regional Irish beers on tap, such as Galway Hooker IPA (Irish Pale Ale), O’Hara’s beers etc, as well as a pretty strong international selection. Service from the bar has a reputation of occasionally being curt.
If you are willing to travel a little out of the centre, to Stoneybatter, a recent addition to the scene is L Mulligan Grocer, as Gastro Pub whose food stands shoulder to shoulder with it’s drink selection. The LUAS (tram) goes near here (from near 3FE). It is very much a traditional pub, in a very non-touristy locale. Recently acquired by who I could only describe as a bunch of foodies / wine-beer nerds. Menus change daily. The only criticism – portions can be small, so be sure to order some sides (think quality not quantity).
Also look for Against the Grain, (11 Wexford St) – [with thanks to The Beer Nut (comment below).]
For food, Dublin has several Michelin Star and Bib Gourmand restaurants (listed below) all worth a punt depending on your budget. I reckon the best meal I ever had in Dublin was in L’Ecrivain. For a much more casual (and better value) experience, however, Pichet is consistently a joy.
2 Stars: Patrick Guilbaud (Upper Merrion Street, D2)
1 Star: Bon Apetit (Malahide) Chapter One (Parnell Square North, D1) L’Ecrivain (Upper Baggot Street, D2) Thornton’s at Fitzwilliam Hotel (St Stephen’s Green, D2)
Bib Gourmand – New Additions: La Maison (formerly La Maison des Gourmets, Castlemarket Street, D2) Pichet (Trinity Street, D2) The Pig’s Ear (Nassau Street, D2)
Fallon & Byrne on Exchequer St occupies a vast multi-storey space, with a very nice and reasonably priced restaurant upstairs, a very nice not so reasonably priced foodie market on the ground floor, and an excellent wine bar in the basement. Their coffee is also improving at pace, having recently switched to Hasbean, and may be worth a shot. The food/wine though is a definite.
For the best chicken wings in Dublin – go to Elephant & Castle.
For sort-of-tapas in a nice space go to the Market Bar.
For a unique tasting menu experience – Salon Des Saveurs / The Tasting Room, offering set tasting menus at various price points.
Junior’s Deli Cafe and their sister spot Junior’s Paulie’s Pizza have been getting great reviews, for uncomplicated, hearty soul food.
See Drewry’s more comprehensive list/map below for a much better guide to food.
If you stay until the weekend – there is a nice foodie market in Meeting House Square in Temple Bar every Saturday.
In terms of touristy stuff, you could do worse than jump on one of the tourist buses and sit on for the route. The Guinness Storehouse and the Jameson Distillery are both pleasant enough experiences to occupy some time, though I wouldn’t call either compulsory. The museums tend to be run well, though perhaps without the some of the blockbuster exhibits seen in Europe’s bigger capitals. Dublin Zoo and the Phoenix Park are a bike / bus / tram trip from the city centre. The Phoenix Park is massive. Within it are the Zoo, the President’s Residence (Aras and Uachtarain), several monuments including the Papal Cross, and a large herd of free roaming deer.
In terms of getting around, Dublin City Centre is small enough, but even then if you need to get about a bit quicker Dublin has a self-service bike rental scheme for a nominal charge. There are 42 locations around the city, 15 of which allow you to buy a 3 day ticket for €2. The basic idea is you grab a bike, cycle to where you want to, at which point you can find the nearest drop off point to return the bike, or you can lock it to something as you would a normal bike, and return it at a later point. Info here.
For longer trips your options are Dublin Bus which pretty much goes everywhere with varying frequencies. Or the LUAS tram which has two very focused routes. Or the DART light rail, which runs essentially along the coast north and south of the centre. Taxi’s are not cheap (though I’ve seen worse), but tend to be very easy to get.
Drewry from Marco put together a much more comprehensive list of city centre spots – which can be viewed on a Google Map here. It includes nearly everything I have mentioned plus much more.
I know I’m probably forgetting loads. If anyone has corrections – bang em’ into the comments below.
Sorry I’ll miss you.
*make it happen