Thursday, January 24, 2019

Eastern flavours and culture at Silk Road Café in Chester Beatty Library

Eastern flavours and culture at Silk Road Café
 and Chester Beatty Library

During one of the first Culture Nights in Cork, the Kay Harte of the Farm Gate Café had Abraham Phelan down from Dublin as guest chef and the queues were long. You can still find Abraham’s food in Dublin, at The Silk Road Café, a mecca for students, artists, other gallery visitors and more, in the Chester Beatty Library.

Here, the dishes served reflect the global reach of the collections - with Middle Eastern, North African, Mediterranean, vegetarian and coeliac friendly dishes served on a daily basis. No shortage of choice here when lunch begins at noon as they have about a dozen different offerings. Earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon, they serve teas and coffees and lots of good things, including baklava.
Quite a dining room at The Silk Road;
the kitchen and other rooms are to the right.

We had been taking a look in the Library itself and came down to the café, splendidly situated in the atrium, at noon. There is no written menu but the staff are very helpful here and soon we were sorted.

Breakfast had been generous and there was a big dinner on the horizon so nothing too much was required and we picked a three pronged small salad (8.20) and a vegetarian moussaka with salads (11.50).

Their selection of 12 dishes changes daily and all are served with rice and vegetables or with two of twelve vegetarian salads. 

The main courses could include a lamb moussaka as well as the vegetarian one. You’ll find a fish dish and a number of chicken offerings including curry. There may also be a pie and freshly made falafels. 
All cakes, biscuits and breads are homemade and you will find mixed berry scones shoulder to shoulder with chocolate brownies, fruit tarts, fig cake and baklava. 

To finish up, we ordered tea and the good value here was underlined with a pot (of at least two cups) for two euro.

We were fit for more walking after that and went back up the stairs to the museum. Entry is free but donations of a fiver are suggested.

You may have seen something of the current major exhibition “Gift of a Lifetime: Treasures from the Chester Beatty’s Collection” on TV. 

It includes folios from the Beatty Rosarium (a collection of devotions to the Blessed Virgin) consisting of 8 amazing miniatures. There’s an equally impressive late 12th century Deluxe Gospel Book from the pinnacle of the Byzantine period and also a 13th century Gospel Book, also from Turkey and one of the most important copies of the Qur’an in existence.

On this floor, you’ll also find the Art of the Book, everything from tiny snuff containers to large Dragon Robes but mainly displaying fascinating manuscripts, books, schools and bindings.
A summertime view from the roof garden of the Chester Beatty

Another floor up and you’ll wander through the Sacred Traditions Gallery, all about the world’s major religions, most of them from the east, including of course Christianity and Islam. The library reaches out to young and old with, among other things, lectures, tours and workshops. You may also explore some of the collections online. Check it all out here.

And don’t forget to visit the rooftop garden. The views are restricted, probably for safety and security reasons, but you do get a good look out over the area, including Dublin Castle to your left.

That Abraham Phelan visit to Cork was in 2011 (how time has flown!) and among the tasty bits he was busy serving up were Spanah Fatayer, Fil Fil Mahshy, Musken, Dagaj Bil Lemon and Patingan Mahshy.  (Hope those spellings are correct!).

While going through the info at the Silk Road website, I saw they do an Afternoon tea with a twist. There are no finger sandwiches or any scones but sweet and savoury treats from more than 15 countries. Sushi, chicken shawarma parcels, small bowls with paella are mixed with Persian love cakes, date truffles and Indian burfi. Click here for the Menu.

also on this Dublin trip:
The Little Museum of Dublin

Pearse Lyons Distillery
Café en Seine

Heading east

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