I have no idea how many establishments there actually are in London where it is possible to buy a coffee. However I suspect if they were all slammed together into one linear-mile-long street that to fit them all in the buildings on the imaginary street would, like a miniature version of Manhattan, be sky-high. When I was in London recently, despite the plethora of choice for a caffeine fix, I ended up returning to the Orrery Epiciere on Marylebone High Street, partly because I was in the area but mainly because the last time I was there the coffee was a model of perfect velvet-y smoothness.
Category Archives: Coffee
When I am in town, I am constantly on the trail of the holy grail of caffeine – a decent cup of coffee. Town incidentally is Dublin, which is actually a city but for some reason native Dubliners, myself included, often use the noun town when talking about it – as in ‘going into town’, ‘working in town’, and ‘shopping in town’. Anyway that semantic digression aside the good news is that there is an excellent newish café/shop called Clement & Pekoe serving equally excellent coffee (and teas) at 50 William Street South in the centre of Dublin.
Urbun is a café in the heart of Cabinteely Village in South County Dublin. The name is a play on words; the owners Katie and Niamh choose it because their inaugural project together was making cakes to sell at a market stall and because when they opened the café they wanted to bring an urban vibe to suburban Cabinteely. Katie and Niamh both have food related backgrounds; in a previous life Katie was the food editor of Totally Dublin and Ballymaloe trained Niamh cut her foodie teeth working in the London café scene.
In an increasingly homogenous world what often best defines and sets a city apart (aside from architecture, ambiance, culture and language) is its collection of one-off shops which seek to echo some aspect of that city’s uniqueness. Dublin’s much loved bookshop The Winding Stair, which sells both new and second-hand books, is a gem of a shop that manages to evoke the ghosts of Dublin’s rich literary past and yet remain grounded in the 21st Century. The bookshop is on the ground floor of a building on Ormond Quay, in the centre of Dublin; the equally well-loved Winding Stair restaurant is on an upper floor.
The three Aran Islands are dotted across Galway Bay and beyond them, before the next stop America, is the tumultuous Atlantic Ocean. I visited the middle island Inis Meáin (population approx 200) yesterday, it’s said to be the least visited and the least commercial of the Aran Islands. (Inis Meáin is reached from the mainland by plane or foot-passenger only ferry).
It’s always good to know where to find a decent cup of coffee, so when I am in the Sandycove, Glasthule or Dun Laoghaire areas of South Dublin and in need of a caffeine pick-me-up, I head to Sixty Four Wine. The owner Gerard Maguire has woven together three different but related strands to come up with a successful business. Sixty Four is principally a wine emporium, so the front of the shop carries a large selection of vinous treats at every price point, in the middle there’s an artisan food section and at the back an interesting café (serving coffee, teas, breakfast and lunch) and a fine wine cellar.
The coffee is good and always arrives with a wedge of Valrhona chocolate on the side. The decor of the café is eclectic; a tiled floor, table tops made from the sides of wooden wine boxes, seating replete with comfortable cushion, quirky antiques, a bust of James Joyce in one corner and artificial lighting augmented by flickering tealights. The mix is curiously appealing and the café has a post-modern feel (I mean that in a very good way); the sort of place you wouldn’t be surprised to come upon a skilled scribe scribbling by the glow of candlelight.
The owner Gerard is living the mantra ‘do something you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ He started his working life as a policemen and then became a lawyer with his own practice. He is a long time lover of wine, so when he had a health scare several years ago he decided, as he waited a week for his test results, that if all was well he would work from that day on at something he loved, the news was good and Sixty Four Wine was born. Gerard is studying to become a Master of Wine; he is entering the third year of a seven-year long slog.
When I was talking to Gerard I couldn’t resist asking a would be Master of Wine to recommend a couple of wines at the €15 level and here’s what he suggested; a Godello (that’s a white wine, Godello is the grape variety, like clothes grapes go in and out of fashion and Gerard reckons that Godello is the coming thing) by the Spanish producer Rafael Palacios and Clos des Trias a bio-dynamic Grenache dominated red from the Ventoux.
Note: Sixty Four Wine is at 64 Sandycove Road, Glasthule, Co. Dublin and the web address is http://www.64wine.com
The culinary deities have been kind to the denizens of Dublin 8, as there is a delightful café called Bibi’s in the neighbourhood, which serves breakfast and lunch on weekdays and brunch at the weekend.
Walk for a couple of hundred yards in central Dublin and you will inevitability pass a couple of cafés. The quality and the price of the cup of coffee on offer will be variable. In almost all cases you will have to linger as you wait patiently for your turn for service and hope that there will be a table free by the time your reach the head of the queue.
If you are close to New Bond Street in central London and looking for somewhere to have a coffee (or lunch), I would strongly recommend Sotheby’s café. In fact even if you are not nearby, it is well worth a detour.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Those closing lines of my favourite poem, The Road not Taken by Robert Frost, often spring to mind when I make a small decision with serendipitous consequences. If I hadn’t stayed in bed for an extra hour this morning, I would never have met Honey – a canine visitor to Ireland. Here’s how it happened.