Barfly: Cavern, Baggot Street, Dublin 4

Going underground always feels edgy but Cavern under Baggot Street Wines is not just cutting-edge but incredibly welcoming too

 

Going underground always feels edgy but once Cavern manager Chantal Halley got her hands on the basement of this old Baggot St building she created a venue that is not just cutting-edge but incredibly welcoming too. It’s hard to invent tradition but at only a few months old the Cavern is working hard to do just that and has captured the imaginations of a very mixed group.

Staff from a US tech company hold court at a long table in their outdoor space, competing to out-do each other with their BYOB selections from parent company Baggot Street Wines upstairs. Three young women from the tech/finance sector are wrapped up in the menu, having discovered it on social media earlier. A young couple pop champagne corks while three generations of a family laugh and talk the evening away over bottles of wine.

These layers of personal experience bring a bar to life – they’re crucial if you want customers to feel at home and I’m charmed to hear that they’ve had their first marriage proposal. Chantal Halley has a background in fine dining and is working hard with a small but dedicated staff to balance this finesse with the laid-back attention a wine bar needs. The place simply looks great – textured lighting, long inviting spaces, understated artworks and contrasting materials – wood, fabric, glass. Candles burn in the fireplace, heaters wrap around the base of tables while a cool breeze carries the aroma of an oyster and mussels special from the kitchen.

I’m delighted to find my current-favourite wine on the menu and relax with it in a deep sofa outside. There’s a blanket in case I get cold and I regret that I’m alone. This is a place perfectly designed to relax with friends.

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