En route, with my mother, to the utterly fantastic and perfect production of Phantom of the Opera in the Grand Canal Theatre, it was CaféBar H that caught our eye for a quick pre-theatre lunch.
Previously I had dropped in for coffee and had been intrigued by the hanging hams and dried chillies, and many words on the menu I couldn’t understand; at a two minute walk from the theatre, in yet more lashing rain, the decision was quickly made.
Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed as we were seated was Adele being blasted from the speakers. This in itself is not a crime.. but it was followed by more Adele and then, yet more.
Dear reader, do not get me wrong – I love Adele. Just not the entire tormented, melancholy album – twice – whilst trying to have a nice light lunch.
Thankfully this was replaced by Debbie Harry during dessert but my advice to the staff member who brought the Adele CD in – take it one day at a time, you WILL get through it and cut out the monumentally depressing music – It’s only making things worse
I ordered the bikini sandwich with a side of rocket and parmesan salad and my mother decided on the soup and sandwich of the day – butternut squash soup and an open face smoked chicken sandwich.
25 minutes passed and my lunch arrived, with no sign of my mother’s. Confusion abounded until it turned out it had not yet been ordered.
With less than ten people in the restaurant at this point, I was irritated. Annoyed, even, with some very choice words running through my mind. However, her soup and sandwich landed on the table within five minutes, with some effusive apologies, and all thoughts of revenge were forgotten as I turned and realised half my sandwich had disappeared.
The guilt ridden face on the opposite side of the table told the whole story.
One bite and I realised why it was irresistible – flaky, light bread, the manchego cheese softened but not melted giving a smooth, creamy, slightly crumbly texture to contrast with the peppery kick from the romesco sauce and, oh, the crispy toasted edges of serrano ham – it was just divine. Not in any way heavy or dense, simple, full of flavour and definitely my main reason to return again. I think it was complimented very well with the rocket and parmesan salad – fresh, with a drizzle of balsamic dressing, served with a chunk of fluffy white bread.
Perhaps how good my dish was negatively impacted our opinion of the soup and sandwich, but it was bland; The butternut squash soup had no flavour and the fact it had a nice texture was just about the only compliment one could give it. The open faced sandwich was completely lacking in… anything. Smoked chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion and an inadequate scrape of some sort of chilli or sundried tomato pesto. It needed an additional flair, perhaps caramelising the onions or bumping up the pesto would’ve brought this dish up in our estimation, as the ingredients themselves were perfectly adequate.
Thankfully, as Phantom is two and a half hours long, the coffee was good and strong, and the dense almond based Tarta de Santiago absolutely dissolved on the tongue with a nice hint of sherry.
Some of sweetest words a daughter can hear, “Oh, this is my treat,” came after the opportunity passed to order expensive champagne and every dessert on the menu, but a lovely lunch was had nonetheless.
Too long, didn’t read?
A few gems, with the bikini sandwich being one of the nicest lunches I have had in a long time. Perhaps avoid the soup/sandwich of the day, as there is plenty of variety on the menu, and this will suit most tastes.
Also avoid if you’ve had a bad break up recently, for obvious reasons.
2 mains, 1 side, 1 dessert, tea and coffee €35
Cafébar H, Grand Canal Plaza, Dublin 2