This attractive modern café in the restored Red Stables courtyard at St Anne's Park is a little sister of the excellent Moloughney's Restaurant of Clontarf and Woodstock of Phibsborough, and shares their commitment to good healthy food sourced from the best local and Irish suppliers - and they even have an allotment in the park, which supplies some of the fresh seasonal produce for the kitchen.
It's a very pleasant spot, with more tables outside than in (plenty of room for children to run around and handy for dog owners walking in the park) and a blackboard at the door that's a help in deciding what to order if you have to queue - which is quite likely at weekends and especially on Saturdays when the Farmers' Market is on. The service system may seem a little baffling on a first visit, but patience will be rewarded as the food is really tasty.
St Anne's was once home to a branch of the Guinness family, and the name is a reference to Lady Olive Ardilaun, the wife of Arthur Edward Guinness (Lord Ardilaun). Although, sadly, there is virtually no trace of the house today, the demesne is a wonderful amenity and the team at Olive's Room - joint owners Liam and Michelle Moloughney and Angela Ruttledge, head chef Jenn Kellett and manager Liam Matthews - actively promote the sense of wellbeing that is so much of the park through its beautiful walks, mature trees, famous rose gardens and the many activities that take place throughout the year.
One of the city's best playgounds is just beside The Red Stables and families are made very welcome at Olive's, with junior menu options offered, a toy box and colouring materials available and (although space in the café is at a premium) there's plenty of room outside. (Art classes and music sessions for children are held in the Red Stables too, and Olive's Room also caters for children's parties.)
Wholesome breakfast and lunch menus are offered, with an emphasis on simplicity and flavour - a steaming bowl of soup and some homemade brown soda bread, one of their famous daily salad plates or a good fish pie is always a pleasure here, and the stated specialities say a lot about the kitchen's postive attitude to health and welbeing - Olive’s Room muesli, buttermilk pancakes and ‘powerballs’ are regular favourites, for example, along with 'anytime' energy boosters like scones, brownies, and home-made ‘Immune Boost’ tea. There's always plenty for vegetarians, most of the menu can be adjusted for coeliacs and and vegans are happily catered for too, with advance notice.
There's a short wine list and a good choice of craft beer and cider, including the local Hope Brewery and - although mainly a daytime place - Olive's sometimes opens in the evening and is available for groups, including small weddings.
For a small café in a public park Olive's Room is an ambitious venture, and offers a great service to visitors.