Located opposite Dublin's City Hall, this minute and unprepossessing café is in fact one of the city's culinary highlights. It may never win a Michelin Star, but it is one of the few truly world-class coffee shops Dublin can boast. It is also one of the few establishments where one can find baked goods of a consistently high quality, ranging from almond and raspberry danishes to rhubarb crumble and lemon meringue pie. For lunch, it offers a tempting selection of savoury tarts and soups, and it can also be relied on for a decent bagel.
For me, however, there are a couple of areas in which Queen of Tarts excels:
- Coffee: Queen of Tarts uses Lavazza Crema e Gusto beans, which is not uncommon. What is uncommon, however, is the consistency with which they churn out the most delightful, simple, strong Americano available in the city. In any other establishment, receiving such a delicious cup would be treated as a happy accident, a serendipitous conjunction of circumstance which is to be enjoyed all the more for its rarity. Queen of Tarts, however, are capable of churning out cup after cup of this delightful brew.
- Breakfast: There are plenty of decent breakfasts to be had in Dublin (as long as you like a fry up), but the Queen of Tarts version is a little special. Their "Hearty Breakfast" consists of two rashers, a fried egg, a potato cake, half a tomato, a little tub of delicious relish, and two slices of thick white toast, with tea or coffee. Not the most prodigious quantity of food on offer in the city, but it's a combination that results in total satisfaction. I have to warn, however, that both the bacon and the potato cake are quite salty, so a glass of water is recommended.
- Service: Queen of Tarts has some. Most other coffee shops that purport to offer table service don't really take this seriously, and make you wish for a return to the days of counter service. In Queen of Tarts however, you can expect to have your order taken in a timely manner, and an appropriate amount of attention paid to you over the course of your meal (i.e. none at all, unless you indicate that you need something).
Yes, it's only a coffee shop, but I have a burning admiration for any person or business which can achieve and maintain such high standards. If you're visiting Dublin, I recommend you visit Queen of Tarts at least once. If you want breakfast, try to arrive before noon.
Queen of Tarts have also opened a café in the basement of City Hall, but this doesn't have the atmosphere of the original, nor does it have the full menu. Still, a decidedly above average museum coffee shop.