I’m wondering if other people sometimes find themselves being hindered by extremely specific (and possibly, slightly mad) criteria when looking for a restaurant? Recently I was in town on a Friday evening, and had about an hour to kill before meeting some friends in a pub. I didn’t have enough time to go home and back, so needed to eat somewhere in the city centre. I wanted something relatively healthy, and anyway couldn’t face horrible music and flourescent lights, so fast food was out of the question. I needed a quiet (but not deserted) cafe that was open at 9pm on a Friday, somewhere with pleasant music where I wouldn’t feel like a freak for chilling on my own with a book for an hour. And just to complicate things further, I wasn’t hugely hungry but knew I would need soakage later, so needed somewhere that served light meals. Finding somewhere that meets these requirements is trickier than you might think.
After a fair amount of head-scratching, I remembered Fafie’s, a small creperie on the corner of Kevin St. I’d never eaten there but had heard positive things about it. I was pleased to see that it was still open at 9pm, that it was about half-full and was playing low-key, relaxing music. The menu is pretty much just crepes, with a small range of salads, with everything priced at about €10.
The goat’s cheese salad looked tempting to me, so I tried to order it, but was told by the waitress that all the salad ingredients had already been put away, as they were closing in an hour. Ok, I thought, that seems a bit strange, but maybe there’s a good reason for it that I don’t understand, not being a cafe chef. The waitress recommended getting a crepe, as they come with a side salad. I knew that they’d be too much for me, and asked if I could order a side salad on its own, along with a smoothie? The waitress reacted like I’d asked for some Paris Hilton style crazy high-maintenance off-menu nonsense, like freshly slaughtered swan or a sundae with ground diamonds on top. “Just a side salad? That’s very complicated!”
I felt sheepish, but then realised, hang on – it’s not complicated at all! You’re making them anyway, just make a slightly bigger one, feck it in a bowl and charge me about a fiver for it, I thought (but was too cowardly to say). The place was half-empty so it’s not like I was keeping other, hungrier customers away, and anyway with a small salad and a smoothie I’d be spending about the cost of a crepe anyway. The waitress said she’d check with the chef, leaving me feeling like a big weird pest.
She came back and announced that the chef had agreed to make me the goat’s cheese salad that I’d wanted in the first place. Hurray. An awkward, embarrassing victory. The salad came and was very ample, if a little unusual – it had four miniature crepes laid on top of it. The crepes were tasty, as was the goats cheese and the parma ham, but the lettuce in the salad had turned brown around the edges and was quite unpleasant. Is this my own fault for ordering salad an hour before closing? But why would it make a difference?
Overall, it was one of the oddest experiences I’ve had in a cafe. I think I’ll go back one more time to try their crepes, which I’ve heard good things about and which looked tasty on the night that I was there. I hope it was just a one-off bad night, as a quiet, relaxed cafe with a wine license that’s open late is a rare and useful thing in Dublin.
So now I have a number of questions for you, our lovely readers. Have any of you tried Fafie’s? Can you recommend any other places for a low key light meal? And can anyone who works in a cafe shed some light on the salad mystery?