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16 July 2012

Boutiques and Burritos: Saturday Afternoon in Dublin

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of independent boutiques in Dublin. I didn't have a huge amount of time to explore, but I did spend a few hours wandering around the central Grafton Street area and Temple Bar on Saturday afternoon. I made a beeline for Brown Thomas, Dublin's answer to Harvey Nicks, which I remembered from my days of Mulberry-lust on the Purse Forum. Brown Thomas is a chic, airy department store, with a good range of designer brands (including handbags), mid-range clothing brands and accessories, and make-up. Further down Grafton Street, on the corner of St Stephen's Green, is a big branch of TopShop. It felt a lot less frenetic than my local Oxford Circus branch and had a more carefully curated selection of products. I almost bought a dress but it was cheaper in the UK so I decided to wait until I got home.

Siopaella, Temple Bar

On the way to find good coffee, I happened upon a shop called Siopaella ("Ella's shop") on Temple Lane, which does "recycling and restyling." It's a tiny swap boutique/consignment store, with some really good high-end and upper-mid-range clothes and accessories. I've already mentioned the cool clothes and jewellery in Tamp & Stitch, and just over the road is a shop named Industry, which sells vintage, upcycled and new furniture and homewares. If I had had more room in my suitcase, I may well have spent more time there. Also on Essex Street East is Public Beware, which sells edgy, reasonably priced clothes in bold colours. If you're in the mood for something crafty, check out Exchange Dublin on the corner Exchange Street Upper and Essex Street West. They are there on the second Saturday of every month and you can find a range of local designers selling jewellery, accessories, cards and other gifts. There was another craft market on one of the pedestrianised streets in Temple Bar--either Cows Lane or Upper Exchange Street--with some lovely stalls. My favourite was Chupi, which sells gorgeous handmade jewellery, including necklaces with colourful stones and/or initial discs (38 Euros; you can find similar designs cheaper on Etsy, but it's nice to support a local designer).

Industry, Temple Bar

I've highlighted a few of my favourite espresso bars in Dublin, and at this point I would normally pick out a few dining choices, but I went to quite a few catered events during my trip, so I don't have many restaurants to review. I did enjoy Jo'Burger and I did discover that most of the interesting restaurants are located on Great Georges Street and Aungier Street. I also had pudding and a cocktail at 37 Dawson Street (I had already eaten dinner)--the cheesecake was pretty good, but the strawberry mojito was fairly average. The restaurant itself is very whimsical and quirky, but the service was a bit spotty. I would have liked to try the sliders as they looked tasty. Almost every local I spoke to recommended the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill and Fire, both on Dawson Street and both pretty pricey.

Street food, Dublin-style, at the farmers' market

On Saturday, I ate lunch at the farmers' market in Meeting House Square. eat.st it ain't but they had a few interesting stalls, including the Temple Oyster Bar. I kept things simple and had a chicken burrito. The burritos were pre-prepared and then just heated through (tut tut) but mine tasted good and was just spicy enough for my wussy tongue.

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