Wandering in the Creative Quarter
IN OUR LATEST INSTALMENT OF ‘AMERICAN IN DUBLIN’, EMMA’S SENSE OF DIRECTION IS PUT TO THE TEST.
One morning in my first week interning here at DublinTown, my boss instructed me to meet him at the Dublin Town kiosk at the end of Grafton Street. I got off my bus on D’Olier Street and strutted off confidently. By the time I had gotten to South Great George’s Street I began to suspect that perhaps I had not taken the most direct route. Slowly, I made my way down to Grafton Street, popping into shops every block or two and asking for directions.
I only learned later that the area where I had gotten hopelessly lost is called the Creative Quarter, the district from Clarendon Street to South Great George’s Street and from Lower Stephen’s Street to Exchequer Street. A map of the Creative Quarter is reminiscent of a pile of spaghetti. There are narrow alleyways, sharp turns, surprise dead-ends, etc.—just ridiculous.
Yet despite our inauspicious introduction, the Creative Quarter soon became my favourite place to get lost. It’s a funky, boutique-y area, kinda like a compact version of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village with more pubs. There are loads of hip cafes (hip—not hipster), cheerful little boutiques, snug bars, artsy theatres, a diverse assortment of restaurants, etc. It’s the type of place where you want to Instagram everything. Also, I appreciate how compact the Quarter is; my lifestyle is on the sloth-like side of sedentary, so it’s nice to have so much packed so close together.
Ah, I suppose you’ll be expecting some recommendations now.
Well, I’m really not the best person to ask. This is not false modesty: having been here for four months it’s silly for me to give Dubliners recommendations on what to do in Dublin. But okay. I’ll give it a stab.
Like everyone else who’s ever paid Murphy’s Ice Cream a visit, I’m a big fan. One scoop of sea salt and one of brown bread is absolutely the way to go. Rum raisin is a dark spot on the creamy deliciousness of ice cream history and ought never to be chosen—not even at Murphy’s. (I haven’t actually tried Murphy’s rum raisin ice cream, but I abhor the flavour and firmly believe that raisins are the devil’s food. Though, you know, if you’re into it, that’s cool.) As devoted DublinTown fans will remember from my earlier blog post, I also love Yogism. I’ve always preferred fruity froyo, but then last week I tried Yogism’s salted caramel—a light, not-too-sweet sort of caramel—and it really opened my horizons. Travel will do that to you.
For shopping: Powerscourt Townhouse. It’s an awesome space, all airy and open, and in poor weather it’s nice to have a climate-controlled option. I spend lots of time browsing through all of the shops in here, most of which have a sort of high-end, relaxed vibe—and everything’s pretty. Bow is especially cute; very quirky and whimsical and good for gifts. And again: climate controlled!
If I’m willing to head outdoors, then Om Diva & Atelier 27 is another of my favourites. Downstairs is vintage clothing, which I’m not cool enough for, and upstairs is a collection of really high-quality stuff by local artists—lots of funky clothes and jewellery. Everything seems really under-priced for what it is too—like €25 for a gorgeous handmade statement necklace.
What is with Dublin and naming businesses after numbers?! Brasserie Sixty6, 37 Dawson Street, Green Nineteen, Brasserie 7, 101 Talbot, just off the top of my head—and I urge you all to check it out too. They carry three lines: Jackpot, In Wear, & Part Two. It has a classic, preppy sort of look; it kind of reminds me of Ann Taylor. Ann Taylor is both my and my mother’s favourite store. (And I’m pretty sure both of us dress age-appropriately.) Forty6 is good for everyday staples and cute office-appropriate stuff: patterned blouses, narrow pants, pretty cardigans and blazers, that sort of thing.
I could continue and ramble about my favourite lunch spots and restaurants now—Lemon Crepe & Coffee Co.! Alfies, whose service is so speedy and professional and food is so good that I can almost—almost—excuse their lack of a possessive apostrophe—but I’ve gotten feedback that my blog posts tend towards wordiness, so I’ll stop.
Where am I’m going with this? Check out the Creative Quarter. Take a wander, get a little lost, and then report back and tell me what spots you stumbled upon. I’m here in Dublin for just one more month and I’m always looking for suggestions.
And if you were concerned, no, I was not obscenely late to meet my boss on that grim morning in February. It’s not unusual for me to get that lost, so I tend to leave my house thirty to sixty minutes earlier than necessary. That particular morning, in fact, I had left my house so early that I got to the kiosk before my boss did. And I never did tell him how lost I had gotten. Until now! Surprise, Clyde!