When I think of dinner theatre I think of little round tables with lamps, clinking glasses and live performers entertaining diners. Café Society at Number 22, is exactly that. It’s a dinner theatre space that turns into an after hours circus complete with DJ. I’ve been trying to finish this review for a few weeks but my attempts have been thwarted by timing it seems. On my first visit, I was a guest for the dinner and show (€65 pp). The copious amounts of wine we drank were paid for (about €90). To better balance my review I made two further attempts to return to Number 22 and try out the food in their Library Bar.
If at first you don’t succeed………..
The first time I booked online, received no response but headed in for lunch anyway. I was disappointed to learn there was a private function the night before and so they cancelled lunch the next day. No indication given. On my second attempt, having read the website which said lunch was served Monday to Friday, I again headed in to try my luck. It was a Tuesday and I was informed lunch was only served Wednesday to Friday. Two failed attempts, did not encourage a third I have to say. I did relay this feedback to a very helpful staff member afterwards. I always think it is worth being honest and letting a restaurant know if the service has failed you. It can only help them improve, and let’s be honest sometimes things just go wrong.
It is not all doom and gloom however – Do keep reading it gets better.
Plenty of things did go very right on my initial visit to Number 22. As mentioned I was a guest and it was dinner and a show for two people for €65pp or you can opt to just enjoy the show for €30pp. The venue is gorgeous it has to be said. There is a large stage with seating in front to accommodate groups of various sizes. There is also a balcony overlooking the stage and floor below. We were lucky enough to secure two seats here and the view was perfect.
The menu is varied enough to please the majority. Starters run from €7.50 (soup) to €10.50 (salmon), mains range from €17.95 (chicken) to €24.95 (striploin), sides €4 and desserts €8.50. Combining the three course dinner with the show, to my mind is a no brainer value wise for a night out in Number 22.
I should say that the lighting is heavy on the intimate side of things and you might struggle to read the menu without some careful angling around the table lamp. It is of course also very difficult to take decent pictures. So forgive the quality of the photos and trust me when I tell you the food was excellent from start to finish. Granted the presentation could do with a few tweaks but we cleared our plates on every course.
The two starters we went for were the goats cheese, beetroot, walnut and frisse salad and the herb cured salmon with pickled cucumber, salmon fish cake and horseradish sauce. As I said presentation could be worked on a little more but they were both delicious. I’ve never been a fan of salmon personally but my fellow diner assured me it was up to scratch. My salad was light and refreshing with enough texture to make it feel more substantial. For mains we both opted for beef. I for the daube of beef, garlic mash, broccoli, roasted carrot and braising Jus. The presentation on this was much better and the beef was melt in the mouth perfect. The vegetables retained the right amount of bite and the garlic mash was smooth and full of flavour. My pals striploin was cooked to order and served with caramelised shallots, fries and pepper sauce. Again it was a success. Part of my failed determination to visit the Library Bar on a separate visit was to re-try the steak myself for lunch and take some better photos. Alas it was not to be. We finished up our meal with some delicious desserts, I the vanilla panacotta with berry compote and raspberry soup – delicious. He with the apple and cinnamon sponge cake served with Baileys ice-cream and creme anglaise – sublime. Throughout dinner we were entertained by some background music while the staff danced around the tables. I suspect at least one of the serving staff was new as bless him, eager to deliver the food, he went to the wrong table more than once.
….and now to the performances…..
So the attempted return visits were thwarted. The presentation needs a little tweak and it was a struggle to read the menu, but, the performances were, hands down some of the best I’ve seen in ages. As soon as the stage came to life it was like being transported back in time to a classy gin and jazz joint. We had three performers who took turns entertaining us with melody after melody and every one of them was sensational. The show part starts about 9.30 and runs until about 11ish. The night however doesn’t end there. Once the last of the songs has been sung and the applause eventually stops, Café Society (the name of the dinner & show night) transforms into Masquerade. A circus themed club night with fire eaters, jugglers, sword swallowers and all manner of characters, along with a DJ so you can dance your dinner off.
….in closing I’ll say..
In my opinion (a non sponsored, nor paid for one) Number 22 has the potential to be a fantastic and unique night out in Dublin. Its something different and I will return for another one of their dinner and show nights. They offer about three different ones, including an Irish night and a cabaret night. They have a few house keeping matters to iron out and I’ve no doubt they will. So in closing I’ll say, I’ve high hopes for the future of Number 22 and genuinely hope that it will be around for years to come.