When was the last time you stuck your head into Bewley’s on Grafton Street? For me, and I’ve thought about this carefully, I genuinely believe it’s been 23 years ago when I was 11. Breakfast with Mum on our annual Christmas Shopping Day Out. Since then, Bewley’s has certainly been in the news and in the hearts and minds of Dubliners, but with the explosion of boutique coffee shops and all of us convenience junkies mainlining the WIFI in Starbucks, I guess it just slipped my mind.
While out on a recent assignment for work I stepped again through the heavy, swinging wooden doors; adorned with colour and history. I was delighted to be seated right at the back; fabulous for people-watching. Alone. Inconspicuous. Happily fading into a massive ruby red velvet seat I could immerse myself in my surroundings.
Sitting in what is a far cry from the bustling epicentre of the all-things-tea-and-scones of my childhood; the Bewley’s of today has evolved and adapted, but somehow the nuances are the same. It’s like she’s the same person we know and love but she’s been travelling and her accent has adopted an exotic enchantment.
Irish memories are seamlessly juxtaposed with Oriental flourishes. High-backed, red velvet, gold-studded booths encapsulate reverberations of gossipy awes. Black-clad teams of servers ooze Irish charm and international affability; busy but not rushed. Teaspoons on saucers, chatter and smiles. The air twinkles with sound.
Winding stairs encase the diners; leading heaven’s-way to walls draped in framed theatrical flashes.
An ebony warrior or an ivory mother; the feminine form takes pride of place. Gold billows from a craning body. Timeless and trapped in perpetual flow.
My roiboos orange tea and sinful Mary Cake are a welcome interruption to my thoughts. Eat Quick! Before the richness slows my pace. This is a treat. A nostalgic recapturing of a shared childhood indulgence. Small spoons. A slow dismantle. Who gets. The last…bite?
Dublin is a city of movement & faces; smiling, aging and passing by. Bewley’s smiles back and welcomes all with her warm fires or bright, sunny windows. Through those swinging, wooden doors there’ll be a part of me sitting, ageless on a red ruby seat. Small spoons. Sharing cake with Mum. There aren’t many places left in this ever-evolving Dublin where I can say, in a way, a part of me feels like I’m home. And I won’t wait 23 years to go back…