When I first heard about the Cross Café, a myriad of months ago, I thought that it sounded ‘just so’ and exactly the type of place I would like. At the time I mentally filed its name and location thinking I really must visit it some time soon. Then the weeks leapfrogged into months and the months into almost a year so I only got to try the Cross Café a few weeks ago. I was not disappointed: in an ideal world it’s the sort of café that every neighbourhood should have.
The cafe is on Francis Street. A street that, with its varied collection of shops selling: furniture, paintings, and artefacts – from different epochs, is antique central in Dublin. And indeed the café is just a small part of the Cross Gallery, a gallery that specialises in 20th Century furniture and collectibles and which also hosts regular exhibitions of work by contemporary artist.
Nicholas Gore-Grimes owns the Cross Gallery and Café, his interest in 20th Century furniture was sparked when he worked in the antiques trade in New York some years ago. The delightful café, which is in a light filled high-celinged room to the front of the gallery, is managed by the charming Sungsu Lee.
The Cross Café sources its coffee from Badger & Dodo and its teas from Clement & Pekoe: it’s always a good sign when a café chooses suppliers of such calibre. Sungu is a well versed in the art of making an excellent coffee, the lattes I had on the two occasions I visited the café where models of velvet-y smooth perfection.
The food too is good. There is a limited menu listing: home-made cakes, flapjacks, and cookies; and sandwiches made with bread from the Bretzel Bakery. Nicholas makes the deliciously crunchy flapjacks, his mother Catherine the cookies, and his sister Caroline the cakes. Sungsu tells me the lemon drizzle cake is legendary but I have yet to try it. I did sampled a slice of carrot cake on one of my visits and it was so good: moist, dense with carrots, and topped with a tangy citric flavoured icing. Very moreish.
The Cross Café is a place that’s well worth visiting. The café itself is lovely and, of course, it has the added attraction of a gallery to browse. The first time I visited there was an exhibition of paintings by Graham Charlton and coming soon (7th to 30th May) is ‘Not Just Yet’ an exhibition of some of Hannah Brown’s work. Plus there’s the furniture and collectibles to admire, mainly either Italian or French from the Art Deco or the 1940’s to the 1960’s periods.
The Cross Gallery is at 59 Francis Street Dublin 8 and on the web at www.crossgallery.ie