It’s been a while since my last blog post, too long. I needed to break the curse – So I’ve thought long and hard as to what my curse lifting post should be about – the latest hip dirty burger bar, or the 20 course tasting menu from that new swanky place…but sometimes it’s the small familiar places that inspire you. The places you least expect, the places you’ve been to countless times and maybe it’s a reflection of my current state of mind – the curse has been broken.
So on my lunch break I had a yearning for simple fare, just a well-made sandwich and a bowl of hot soup. What I really wanted was a place I could take sanctuary from the world, a place of refuge, somewhere I could feel warm, secure and not have to talk to anyone – Simon’s Place on George’s Street was the place.
Simon’s Place is a Dublin institution, I’ve been many times and what keeps me coming back is that they get the little things right and the atmosphere is one of pure comfort and nostalgic student bohemia. It’s a place to recharge the batteries, with a communal vibe that emanates from the gentle background hum of chatter and the long tables, where people from all walks of life share a common goal of getting under the radar for a little bit.
A straight up no messin’ menu lets you switch off and regroup. Choose from a simply made sandwich of either ham, cheese, chicken, tuna, avocado or egg, a few salads, a couple of soups, and a small offering of sweet baked goods – that’s it. Sandwiches are dressed with mayo, lettuce, tomato and spring onion, but the bread is really the star of the sandwich. The brown whole meal bread, which they bake on site, is thickly sliced, it’s soft, very fresh, malty and slightly sweet with a chewy crust. This is the bread of my childhood – it reminds me of the loaves of unsliced brown bread my mum would buy from our local baker in Belfast, back in the 80s. Paired with a bowl of veggie soup, piping hot, seasoned perfectly, this is sure to make everything right with the world on a cold crisp winter’s day.
One of the main reasons Simon’s Place has such a loyal following is down to a doughy round of soul warming goodness that is their famous cinnamon bun. The cinnamon buns in Simon’s Place have a spiritual revelatory sensory quality to them – eating one will take you straight into a moment of zen like mindfulness – each bite willing you to focus your attention singularly on the texture of the dough, or the hit of warm cinnamon, or the sticky sweet buttery crusty bottom. It’s a bun that slows everything down and forces you to think carefully as you unravel each new loop, as the bun gets smaller and smaller until your left with a perfect mouthful size of the soft buttery heart of the bun.
Rumour has it that the last time Tom Waits played Dublin, he ordered a consignment of Simon’s fresh cinnamon buns to his hotel room – can’t get a better endorsement than that, from the original Night Hawk himself, and I’m sure Tom Waits has eaten a few cinnamon buns in his time – ‘Eggs and sausage and a side of toast, coffee and a cinnamon bun, hash browns over easy…’
Don’t get me wrong, there are some cracking uber trendy coffee shops in Dublin, serving up coffees that look like works of art, served by very passionate people. I like my silky cappuccinos with the geometrically perfect leaf design in the froth as much as the next guy, but they just don’t have the comfort factor that Simon’s Place does.
Whenever I leave Simon’s Place, I always feel happier than when I arrived – that’s the mark of this little oasis. You might arrive feeling tired, deflated, or a bit sad, but just by sitting in Simon’s Place watching the world go by, surrounded by the smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns and good coffee, you will slowly start to warm up and the world will seem like a happier place.
Please Simon, never change Simon’s Place – it is your role in life to take care of the good folk of Dublin by giving them refuge and feeding them cinnamon buns.
Simon’s Place, George’s Street Arcade, 22 South Great George’s Street, Dublin 2