Meal Ticket: Coppa Café in the RHA, Dublin 2

Cafés in galleries are emerging as destinations in themselves, most notably Coppa in the Royal Hibernian Academy

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Address: 15 Ely Place Dublin 2
Telephone: 01-6618411
Cuisine: Italian

Cafés in galleries and museums have been showing signs of breaking from the tradition of overpriced and underwhelming. There are even a few that are emerging as destinations in themselves, most notably Café Joly in The National Library and Coppa in the RHA.

Coppa sits at the front of the gallery looking out onto Ely Place. The early autumn sun beams on to the tables outside on the pavement, and there’s plenty of leftover sunshine streaming through the floor to ceiling windows of the café. The food is Italian-influenced (there is a special of “Mamma’s Meatballs” on offer for €11 on the day of my visit), with Irish ingredients brought to the fore.

The sandwich offering is a bit too familiar; a slow-cooked pork shoulder sandwich and a beetroot and goats cheese number leave me feeling initially uninspired.

The Coppa sandwich, a Tuscan sausage sandwich served with roasted red pepper and aioli on ciabatta piques my interest but I plump for the lighter sounding Irish smoked salmon with avocado and beetroot served on homemade Guinness bread (€6.50). We all know those ingredients work well together and there’s nothing to fault about this sandwich; the bread makes it stand out from the crowd.


A large slice of carrot cake (€4), made in house, has a pleasingly dense texture. It’s more like a banana bread as opposed to the more common sweet carrot cake. The coffee (€2.60) is a spot on cobweb- blasting double shot of espresso topped with foamed milk.

Coppa was open for Thursday and Friday evenings until 10pm throughout the summer, with a simple Italian antipasti offering. They’re currently only open for breakfast and lunch, but may return for dinners again next summer.

Of course, the added value of Coppa is that after lunch you have a gallery worth of art to get through as a digestif. When I visit, visual artist Amanda Coogan’s arresting and creepy show I’ll sing you a song from around the town is in full flow. The artist is present, and is wrapped in blue taffeta material that is both a dress and a drape; she moves so slowly and unblinkingly that I am unsure if she is a real human at all. Yet she is, as are the other four players in the piece scattered around Gallery I who are playing out their own gradual movements. Together they create a waking dreamscape on an impressive scale.

Aoife McElwain

Aoife McElwain

Aoife McElwain, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a food writer