Well located near the Linenhall Arts & Exhibition Centre, you can’t miss this attractive little restaurant, with its cheerful red frontage. Ann McMahon set up here over a decade ago and is still very involved although Aran and Colleen McMahon now look after the day to day running.
They are very serious about the food they serve, but the tone is light-hearted - it’s not a very large room but pine tables (some covered in red oilcloths) are quite well-spaced, and most have a good view of the large blackboard menu that lists all kinds of good things to raise the spirits of weary shoppers and culture vultures.
Wholesome, home-made fresh food is the order of the day here, and careful sourcing of ingredients is a point of pride - so pasta dishes are based on the excellent Noodle House pastas from Sligo, Irish farmhouse cheeses and other speciality ingredients are supplied by Sheridans cheesemongers, fish comes from Clarkes of Ballina and pork from Ketterich’s of Castlebar.
Organic vegetables are supplied by a nearby organic scheme in summer, Macroom stoneground oats go into the porridge that is served with home-made apple compôte in winter - and ingredients for ‘the full Irish’ (sausages, puddings) come from the renowned butchers, Kelly’s of Newport.
Regular dishes like home-made chicken liver paté, warm chicken salad with garlic mayonnaise and ratatouille crostini are announced on one blackboard, while another gives hot specials like potato & lovage soup, grilled pork chops with carrots, new season potatoes & mushroom à la crème and Cashel Blue potato croquettes with beetroot chutney.
There’s an interesting drinks menu (wines, juices, hot chocolate with marshmallows) and ‘because we know that they love food too’, there’s also a special children’s menu, one of many thoughtful touches. Luscious desserts (rhubarb trifle, for example) and good home bakes too: great little place.
* There's a second branch of Café Rua nearby: Rua Cafe Deli, a two-storey café, deli and bakery on Spencer Street, offers salads, sandwiches and artisan and specialist food products, freshly baked breads, cakes and scones - and many of the favourite dishes from Café Rua