Wednesday 6 July 2011

Hello and Goodbye at the National Library

It's all change at the National Library in Kildare Street this month. The shop, from which I've bought many an excellent book in the past, is to close at the end of next week.

Judging by the roaring trade it was doing today when I made a last nostaligic visit, its shelves will be empty before it shuts the door for the final time. Serious reductions are on offer. I bought two beautiful softbacks of photographs from the Library's own collections for just €1.50 (for the two!), and I couldn't resist a half dozen black and white postcards depicting famous front page photographs of the early 20th century. A snip at just 30c each. Oh, and a National Library of Ireland pencil for 10p. It'll be a collector's piece one day, you mark my words.

Having said farewell, I crossed the landing to say hello to Bronwyn Bailey and Michael O'Malley who took over the Library's cafe just yesterday.

Between them, Bronwyn and Michael bring more than 20 years of catering experience to Cafe Joly and their intention to offer fresh and interesting food is already apparent.

Bronwyn explained their approach to menu selection: "I've always thought it a bit disappointing to find a national institution not promoting national food, so we'll be showcasing some of the best Irish foods."

On the menu today was a plate of Irish artisan cheeses, some wonderfully colourful salads (including a beautiful watermelon, feta and olive combo), homemade mushroom soup, a selection of pastries and a good selection of teas.

It would have been churlish to not sample their appealing menu so I ordered slow-roasted spiced shoulder of lamb in a ciabatta bun. It came with a selection of mixed salad leaves in a mint dressing, and Joly tasty it was, too. Happy to recommend it to anyone who's researching at the Library or in the vicinity.