Dublin 101: Exploring Fade Street
One thing I love about Europe is that holidays are taken very seriously.
During my trip to Dublin over New Years, most people were enjoying a break from work that began before Christmas and would last until after the New Year. This was the perfect time to cross the pond and visit friends who all had extra time on their hands to eat, drink, and be merry. And so we did. For this post, I decided to focus in on one particular street in Dublin, Fade Street, that has a lot to offer visitors, whether it’s your first time in Dublin or like me, you know the city pretty well.Fade Street is a small block off bustling Georges Street, and if you weren’t looking for it, it would be easy to stroll on by. It is right in the center of Dublin, making it a great meeting point from people arriving from different areas of town. Turning off Georges Street, it is difficult not to be struck by the inviting French restaurant L’Gueuleton, complete with flickering candles and decorated in a traditional brasserie style. The open kitchen is another lovely touch, and on a cold winter night, comforting aromas were filling the restaurant.
While some locals love the atmosphere and food of L’Gueuleton, they don’t love the fact that this bistro doesn’t accept reservations. I think it’s a great excuse to arrive early, put your name in for a table, and go next door to the No Name Bar for a drink before dinner. Walking away from Georges Street on the same side as L’Gueuleton, there will be an open door with a wooden staircase. This is the bar with no name, so there is no sign to look for, you just have to be confident and climb up the stairs. [There's also a doorman at peak times, this might help to recognize the bar, located at #3 Fade Street.]When I arrived for a pre-dinner drink, the hustle and bustle of this trendy bar was still a few hours away. In the fairly empty space, it was possible to really appreciate the building. This historic building was once a home in the center of Dublin, and has now been transformed into a bar. There’s an outdoor space that the smokers adore, while others get cozy on couches in the living room, or pull up a stool at a table in the front drawing room. The bar with no name has a feeling of the best house party you’ve ever been to, but there’s always enough to drink.
The no reservations policy becomes far less of an annoyance when your phone rings and it is announced that your table is ready. On a cold night, my seat next to the heater was a welcomed pleasure, and for appetizers I couldn’t look past the famous French Onion Soup. On L’Gueuleton’s website it is listed as ‘the best French Onion Soup in Dublin’ and I wouldn’t argue. I have dined here many times and have been unable to look past the soup. It is quite filling though, so be sure to bring your appetite.My dining companions were a little more diverse in their choices for entrees. I chose a whole roasted baby chicken, moist and tender, served with root vegetables and mushrooms. Other options included a local Wicklow venison stew, Toulouse sausages, and a gorgeous Rib-eye steak. We had no room left for dessert, but the options looked tempting, and I almost always have room for a little cheese after dinner.
If you aren’t already impressed with the offerings of tiny Fade Street, there are even more options for after dinner. Hogans is right on the corner of Georges Street and Fade Street, but I prefer the roomier Market Bar on the other side of the street. Large groups can grab a table or mingle by the bar in this former warehouse with its atmospheric red brick walls and sky-lit interior. This isn’t your average Dublin pub – and if you’re looking for something beyond the traditional during your trip – this bar offers a little more style, a little more choice, and a little more comfort than your average pub. If your appetite isn’t great enough to tackle the French fare of L’Gueuleton, Market Bar has great options for tapas and nibbles too.This travel writer and former Dublin resident thinks that Fade Street might just represent Dublin in microcosm. There’s the great food and laid-back nature of L’Gueuleton, the good craic at Hogan’s pub, and also some more modern offerings at the No Name Bar and Market Bar. To experience a great blend of the old and new, spend a night at any combination of these places on Fade Street.