Once I got word of Siopaella’s Kilo Sale in aid of animal charity A Dog’s Life, well I just had to do my bit for the furry ‘lil fellas! Conveniently around the corner from the Bloke’s place – Siopaella has two shops, one on Crow Street, the other on Temple Lane South – I’m oft to be found flicking through the rails. Owner Ella De Guzman’s two adorable mutts love to sit in the corner, watching us bargainistas swoon.
Siopaella first popped up in the corner of its Crow Street location last year and I was hooked straight away. Ella takes in top quality designer and high street fashions, with a little vintage in the mix too. Clothes sellers take home 40% of the sale price, while shoppers get gorgeous gear at a fraction of the retail price. Everyone’s a winner! And Siopaella’s boutique service is a lot more glam than trawling Ebay.
Previous finds of mine include a boxfresh leather Chesneau bag, a silk Monsoon dress and a pair of suede Dune heels. The Temple Lane South store is home to high end designer labels – perfect for a little Christmas Chanel to self… Last Wednesday I picked up a St Martins dress, two silk LBDs, a cute jacket, cord skirt and a pair of Levi’s. Just 20 euro! And over a thousand raised for A Dog’s Life. Woof…
Siopaella, 8A Crow Street & 25A Temple Lane South, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 / www.adogslife.ie
Twas a breezy Tuesday afternoon when me and the Bloke decided the only thing for it was to hit up the Hard Rock Cafe and stuff our chops. No better place! The Hard Rock’s been in Temple Bar for a few a years now, on Fleet Street alongside fellow burger buddies on the Hen / Stag trail. As a salad kinda gal it wouldn’t be my first port of call but we fancied a big fat chow and some cocktails, so down the hatch!
We were seated in a leatherette booth beneath Bono’s shades. The decor, featuring musical memorabilia like its worldwide siblings, is homage to Irish rock’n'roll history. Music videos played on big screens in the background, MTV style. Our man in Japan was one of the best waiters I’ve had the pleasure of, bringing us cocktails first. A sparkling fresh Mojito for me and a macho pink one for himself.
The nachos came with a warning on account of their size, and true to his word our man brought us a ginormous mess of hot tortillas, cheese, sour cream and jalapenos. With salsa and guacamole on the side. For starters! However I did spy two ladies next door demolishing the insane looking Jumbo Combo, which does what it says on the tin… We made a good dent in the nachos which could have fed four.
I had the chicken Caesar salad for dins while the Bloke tucked into an S.O.B burger. I’m sure he only picked it for the name! My salad was nice and crisp with proper Romaine leaves and seriously creamy sauce. There was a good topping of grilled chicken and salty bacon bits but the croutons are always my test. Lovely crunchy little numbers! The hot and spicy burger went down well, the chips not so much.
Another cocktail – rude not to – helped to ease our sore bellies. But the charming chef talked us into his dessert special of banana bread and butter pudding. The cake fiend in me made room for this sweet sticky caramel goo-fest. Yummy! Not used to munching so much in one sitting we waddled home for a sneaky snooze. Now that’s what I call a carb coma. The Hard Rock Cafe does American comfort food.
Hard Rock Cafe Dublin, 12 Fleet Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
What else on a bright sunshiny afternoon but go for a mill around Temple Bar. I was in a sweet mood so when the Bloke suggested Queen Of Tarts, I thought what’s Kate Middleton got to do with it? Alas, he was talking about the quirky cafe on Cows Lane. Lunch time trade was in full swing when we took our seats in a cosy corner. The place is warm and buzzy with a homespun feeling and plenty of space.
Queen Of Tarts serves a selection of rustic fare, with wholesome sandwiches, hot savoury tarts and homemade soups for lunch. Himself went for the Tuscan bean soup which came with two different slices of farmhouse bread. Slurp! Being me, I went straight to the cake section of the menu. Queen Of Tarts’ USP is its baking after all. What to choose? I ordered a chocolate pear tart and we shared a pot of tea.
My cake was just what the doctor ordered after a couple of nights on the razz (who me?), a warm gooey sugary hit. So impressed was I by this delicious morsel, I’ve made it my mission to test out everything – New York raspberry baked cheesecake, old fashioned Victoria sponge cake, tangy lemon meringue tart. The list goes on… Queen Of Tarts obviously put great love into their cakes and boy, does it show.
We were well looked after by the lovely staff and it was nice to squirrel away in such homely surrounds. A giant pot of tea went down well and I got a laugh watching the Bloke get his mitts around a vintage china cup. How dainty! Queen Of Tarts is a great spot, central yet far from the madding crowd. The perfect pit stop or for a bigger bite at breakfast or lunch, it also has a quaint twin sister on Dame Street.
Queen Of Tarts, Cows Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 / Queen Of Tarts, Cork Hill, Dame Street, Dublin 2
Moving house, who’d do it eh? Me! As it turns out, it was a good chance to detox my life of unwanted furniture, books and clothes. Ah, my wardrobe – no matter how many times I clean it out there’s still some lovely things I’ll never part with. I like to tell my friends that I don’t buy clothes, I collect them… But there were a few nice things lingering that I hadn’t yet brought to the charity shop.
So when I heard about the MayFly Clothes Swap at the Exchange I packed my bag of goodies and headed on over to Temple Bar. Cruising through Dublin on a sunny evening reminds me of everything I love about this city! When I rocked up to the Exchange I could see lots of ladies through the window, scouring the jam packed rails. Good work my fellow bargainistas!
Five quid on the door and the idea is that you offload your gear and can then bag yourself whatever you fancy from the rails. There was dresses, jeans, coats, shoes, handbags and jewellery. Some absolute gems and a few ropey bits too… Most of the good stuff went early tonight, girls making off with their bags bursting. I got some cool bounty but was happy to leave with less!
My best find was a pair Katherine Hamnett rose tinted glasses. Sure don’t I always see the sunny side up? By the end of the night the place was scant of threads and MayFly’s Courtney Tyler told me the event had been a success as usual. She runs the Clothes Swap every two months and it’s gained a cult following among Dublin’s fashion savvy. People love something a bit different, Courtney told me.
MayFly of course if well known for it’s quirky recycled accessories, which I’ve seen at various markets over the years. Now they’re sharing a hidden shop inside Se Si and Lucy’s Lounge on Fownes Street Upper. It’s a unique boutique selling artisan jewellery, handcrafted clothes and original gifts. I promised Courtney I’ll check it out as I’m sure MayFly is a great new addition to Temple Bar.
MayFly, Se Si, Fownes Street Upper, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 / www.courtneydesigns.ie
First Thursdays is a great idea! On the first Thursday(geddit?) of every month Dublin opens up it’s cultural doors for an evening of arts. A bit like a mini Culture Night, it’s a great way of encouraging folk to check out what the city has to offer. I strolled into Temple Bar, ’twas a lovely night and straight into the Brick Alley Cafe on Essex Street East.
With a Wu Tang Killa Headache threatening to wreck my buzz I knew this was just the place to chill out before hooking up with my pals. I pointed to a virgin deep dish apple pie I’d spied in the window cake stand and ordered up a hot slice with cream. And a cuppa, obviously! Pulling up a wooden bistro chair I settled in at the central communal table of this cosy caff.
One bite and I was feeling better already. Crunchy shortcrust, fresh apples – not too sugary and with a big pot of whipped double cream. ‘Nuff said… The Brick Alley Cafe is dark and romantic like an old hideaway tabac you might find in French village. Wine bottles line the wall behind the counter, which is the focal point of the room, with fresh ice creams out front. La vie en rose…
Ready to rock ‘n’ roll I made my way to Meeting House Square, home of the Gallery of Photography to meet the chaps. It was the opening night of “Amazon”, an exhibition with pictures by award winning photographers Sebastiao Salgado and Per-Anders Pettersson. In Aid of Sky Rainforest Rescue, the exhibition highlights the devastating effects of deforestation in Brazil.
Salgado’s work, in black and white, portrays stunning natural habitat, despite human destruction, and the communities living within them. The stark contrast of how these tribal people live, so close to nature, and how we operate in the Western world is amazing. Pettersson’s photos pick up the colour of rural Brazil with sharp insight into family life on the edge of rainforests.
Next up was the Project Arts Centre, a well known hub of weird and wonderful creativity in Temple Bar. We experienced “Panto Collapsar” and “We Sell Soul”. The former is an art installation by contemporary Australian artist Mikala Dwyer. The main spectacle of the piece is a hovering canopy of silver floating O shapes, moving in harmony with the room, calling our attention to a spiritual world.
Our lovely guide, Ian, talked us through the concepts of both art works explaining the latter, by Liverpool’s Richard Proffitt, as the first in the Project Arts Centre’s new experimental portal, The Grotto. It features a collection of hippy memorabilia and counterculture paraphernalia, evoking the reality of commercialised ideological icons. An interesting observation indeed.
All art-ied out, our next stop was Ukiyo for a bit of bento action. The Japanese bar and restaurant on Exchequer Street is a fave of mine, combining tasty food and good value as I so like. We tucked into the day’s offering of salted mackerel, kimchi pork, and vegetable pasties which came with miso, mixed salad and sticky rice. You can’t go wrong for 10 euro.
A dessert bento was made for sharing as we spooned hazelnut cheesecake, rum and raisin brownie, ice cream and a wonderful milky goo. Don’t know what it was but we loved! All washed down with Asahi beer and a refreshing Tom Collins. As more people make a date with their sofa nowadays, due to financial woes, First Thursdays is a great free night out with something new to do every time.
Cow’s Lane Designer Studio is one of those places I just can’t walk past – there’s always something in the window that draws me. I was on the way to a party when I spotted their open door – late night Thursday!
The shop is a lovely space, well laid out with lots of handmade designer goodies on display. It’s ideal for an unusual birthday or Christmas present, or just a little me present. I tried on hats by Shevlin Millinery, some Ann Tyrrell jewellery and a Daiva’s Textiles scarf.
But I was won over by an Astrid feather hairband. Hot pink and black, I popped it in my hair and instantly had a smile on my face – I was fully dressed for my night out. And my new accessory was the star of the show at the Lillie’s Bordello soiree.
Friday 23rd was Culture Night – when the city’s artists, performers and cultural mavens open their doors to the public for free. An excellent worldwide venture that works well in Dublin, this lovely vibrant town we call home! Temple Bar is full of surprises for those who think it’s only a Hen party hotbed – there’s a whole world of creativity here. First stop, the Black Church Print Studio where we were given a guided tour of their various processes and a demonstration of fabric printing.
We popped next door to the Monster Truck Gallery, then into Connolly Books for a browse and to the Gallery of Photography where we checked out Noel Bowler’s latest exhibition. Time for a sit down, so we parked on a giant beanbag at Filmbase for some fantastic Irish movie shorts. Laugh out loud we certainly did – Irish film talent at it’s best. City Hall was next on the agenda and what an impressive space! The domed building onDame Street features a beautiful high ceiling lobby, where we caught an Irish writers history display and a theatrical performance of their works.
Underfoot, amazing vaults house a history of Dublin from Viking times right up to today. There are fascinating artefacts, maps and video guides. The Lord Mayors costumes were my favourite! Culture Night packed in so many venues all over the city, it was a good idea to pick one stamping ground and go for it. Temple Bar was thirsty work so we were glad to be fed and watered in Salamanca on St Andrews Street, a slick Spanish tapas bar. Pinchos, chorizo and vino went down a treat. Finally, a nightcap in The Morgan was the only tonic for a happy carb coma and tired feet.
Mooching through Temple Bar – the best way to shop I think – I discovered a diamond in the rough on Temple Lane South. Shotsy Vintage is like the ultimate dressing up box, with rails of rainbow dresses lining the walls and magpie boxes dotted around. All era’s from the 1950′s up are on hand, so you can choose depending on your mood. Seventies disco dolly or Eighties power diva?
At the moment I’m going through a Sixties phase, so it’s all hitched hemlines, canary yellows, giant buckles and collars. Shotsy doesn’t disappoint, with a sherbet pink mini dress catching my eye. Shop owner Lisa McGrath told me how she opened the shop with her cousin Katie Prior, having noticed a gap in the market for affordable vintage.
Lisa explained that the girls love of all things old started when they were young and inspired by their Grandmother’s elegant style. A seamstress in her younger days she had a collection of clothes that had converted the pair from Penneys to Oxfam. Lisa came to appreciate the craft that goes into a handmade garment and soon developed an eye for unique pieces, herself and Katie scouring the vintage shops of London on a regular basis.
Knowing what they like the girls have sourced some great stock and unusual bits, like the winged shades on display at the till. Lisa admits that she’s taken some risks when buying – like snapping up a mystery trunk at a clothing auction, the contents of which she only discovered on purchase. Luckily it all turned out well, with Lisa joking that she likes surprises!
Shotsy really is a treat and so different from the high street shopping experience, both in terms of atmosphere and service. I like the personal touch of a boutique and Lisa is delighted when I match a feather hairband I’ve just bought to one of her vintage pearl brooches. Sometimes the perfect thing just finds me! We both agree it’s a little retail thrill when a clothes lover meets a cute thing she must have.
shotsyvintage.tumblr.com / Shotsy Vintage, Temple Lane South, Temple Bar, Dublin 2