Queen of Tarts, Dublin, Ireland

Posted on
Jan 9, 2013

Our lunch at Queen of Tarts. Notice the conspicuous absence of actual tarts.

After my brain surgery, I had trouble accepting that I was unchanged.

“Do I seem different?” I would ask Rand, time and again.

“No,” he’d reply. “Baby, you are exactly the same.”

And I’d stare at my reflection in the mirror, at my steroid-induced moonface, and say, “But I look different.”

“It’s not how you look,” he’d remind me. “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”


I could not grasp that my brain had been operated on and I had emerged more or less the same. It was weird to me that all my memories remained: the time I broke my arm when I was 8; the first time I got dumped (brutally and over the phone) when I was 15; the ill-advised turquoise blouse I had on the night I met Rand. All the things that had been imprinted on that pink squishy mass over the last (ahem) TWO AND A HALF DECADES (okay, fine. Three decades.) were still there.

That was hard for me to get. As was the realization that I hadn’t attained any superpowers (seriously, what’s it take for a gal to become telekinetic?).

I began hyper-scrutinizing my behavior for a while, to see if I noticed any difference. I listened to my own voice more carefully than I ever have in my life. Did I always sound this way? (It was the inexplicable combination of Valley Girl and Mid-Atlantic WASP.) Did my gait look the same? My makeup? My penmanship?

My husbands, my friends, and my family all insisted – and still insist – that yes, yes, everything was the same. Even my constant questioning confirmed that I was my old, neurotic self. Had I been carefree and unconcerned, they might start to worry.

But even now, months later, I still occasionally insist that I am different. Certain things I say or do surprise me. Indeed, when I try recounting them back to myself, I hardly believe it.

If you told me six months ago that I walk into to a pastry shop with the delightful name “Queen of Tarts” (heh) and not get dessert, that would be simply incomprehensible. I would insist that the only way such a thing could be true would be if the shop was closed. And even then, I don’t know if that would dissuade me. I’d likely bang on the door for a few frantic minutes before wisening up and circling around the back, in hopes that I’d find a window partially open (or, failing that, DUMPSTER PASTRIES!).

But folks, I have to tell you: it happened. We walked into Queen of Tarts, and only had lunch. And lunch did not consist of cake. I repeat: LUNCH DID NOT INVOLVE CAKE.

Strange. Like, parallel universe strange. Like, man bites dog strange.

But hey, in the words of Vanessa Williams, sometimes the sun goes round the moon, right?

(Except that, you know, it doesn’t. It never has. If it ever did, we’d probably get incinerated instantly.)

Queen of Tarts is a rather unassuming spot. They have two locations, and both were packed – the only indication that something very special was going on inside.

Something very special, indeed.

Their focus is on desserts, obviously, and though I can only judge by appearances, they seem to do them exceptionally well.

I checked out the case – which was positively packed with goodies – before we even sat down. This is something I often do at places that specialize in sweets. If quantities are limited (and if we’re talking me and desserts, they always are), I’ve been known to tell our server to put a slice or three aside for me.

But Queen of Tarts showed no sign of running out of anything, even in the face of a threat like myself, so instead Rand and I sat down to a leisurely lunch first. Mostly because my tyrannical husband suggested I provide my body with energy that hasn’t been derived from cane sugar.

HE IS A MONSTER. Don’t forget that, folks.

I must begrudgingly admit, though, that the non-sugary offerings at Queen of Tarts are quite satisfying. The menu is full of all kinds of salads and sandwiches, quiches and soups. Practically everything comes with some sort of savory baked good, a subtle, salty foreshadowing of the treats that (hopefully) lie in your future.

Coupled with a nice cup of tea in floral china, it’s the lovely, high-brow-yet-hearty sort of lunch that you’d expect from a cafe in central Dublin.

Rand got a colorful veggie quiche and an array of salads that were in no way dessert-like whatsoever.

And I had this fresh and healthy-looking salad, topped with lentils, feta, and couscous. I took to calling it my “non-cake.” As in, “Rand, take a bite of my non-cake. It’s pretty good DESPITE THE LACK OF CAKE.”

As we finished our entrees, we noticed the time – we were running late for another appointment. We had lunched at Queen of Tarts, but there was no time for an actual tart. I inhaled sharply at this realization. Rand took my hand.

“We’ll come back later and get dessert,” he promised. But then that day, and those following it, slipped away from us, as did the opportunity to return to the cafe.

In somewhat related news, I am pleased to announce that Rand and I will likely be heading back to Dublin again this spring. Someone warn the carrot cake: I haven’t changed that much at all.

Leave a Comment

  • As I’m drooling over that gorgeous Victoria sponge cake, my heart just breaks for you. At least now you have something to look forward to on your next visit.

  • Dora

    Is your other husband as awesome as Rand is? Could we somehow share this other husband?
    “My husbands, my friends, and my family all insisted – and still insist – that yes, yes, everything was the same.”

  • clare

    hey, i am from dublin and have lived here my life – and like a true dubliner you have seem more of the “sights” than i have !!!
    i was over on yoru side of the pond when you were here ( doing the tourist thing ) and am trilled to hear you will be back – hopefully this time the driving will not be as scary as this time – and if i am lucky i might pass you in the street !!

  • “I inhaled sharply at this realization” – I LOVE this. And I would have inhaled sharply as well. And possibly have ordered a tart to go.

  • When you go back, you should stop in for breakfast too. My husband and I went for breakfast and it was amazing. I’ve never tasted better OJ, ever. Also, the scones? Perfection. I dream sometimes about that breakfast. In fact, I’d go back to Dublin just for that breakfast.

  • There’s a place in Portland called St. Honore Boulangerie. It’s a French bakery and I adore their salads, soups, breads, etc. They have an amazing display of pastries, yet I almost never get one. It’s not even lack of time or desire, I just don’t. It seems odd. When you’re in Portland next, I highly recommend it.

  • Jess

    Reading that is making me reminisce about a trip to Dublin a few years back where the hubster and I came across the chain of chocolate shops/cafes called Butlers. They were so awesome, they gave you a surprise chocolate treat alongside any hot drink that you ordered (and yes, I did order the hot chocolate to go with my chocolate).

    Their chocolate is so good that every Christmas since, we’ve treated ourselves to a giant Christmas cracker that’s filled with Butlers chocolate treats. I can’t wait ’til next year!

  • Christina

    Wow, I can’t even believe you didn’t grab and go. I supposed it’s just one more thing to look forward to on your next trip.

    Back to possible superpowers though. You should totally try to bend a fork or set fire to some paper with your mind. Aside from it looking like your are concentrating intensely, you never know, stranger things could happen. Or try to mind read. Tell Rand to think of a dessert….

  • Jess

    “My husbands, my friends, and my family all insisted – and still insist – that yes, yes, everything was the same. Even my constant questioning confirmed that I was my old, neurotic self. Had I been carefree and unconcerned, they might start to worry.”

    Perhaps getting a second (or more?) post-surgery husband is a change worth mentioning?

    The cake in the bottom right in the last cake photo looks AMAZING by the way! How many of your readers’ new year’s resolution to ‘get healthy’ have been blown by this story?

  • Sean

    “My husbands, my friends, and my family all insisted – and still insist – that yes, yes, everything was the same.”

    The fact that you now believe you have “husbands”, might be a little different.

  • I see I’m not the only reader who noticed the “husbands” thing. However, I said to myself. “Nah, it’s just a typo.” I think you either have to correct it or you have some splaining to do — not that it’s any of our business whether or not you’ve had more husbands than Rand. Indeed, I’m a relatively new Everywhereist reader, so maybe you already spilled the beans about the other husband(s) and I just never saw it.

    Me, I just disposed of that other husband issue on my blog “about” page, so I could concentrate on my real husband. Seriously, isn’t there a statute of limitations on “other” husbands? Right, I’m a lawyer. I should know. No, there isn’t. Every time you show up to get a marriage licence, they will demand to see a divorce or death certificate dealing with old husbands — even husbands from when you were 21 and were too young to know better than to marry your college sweetheart.

  • Laura

    We travelled to Ireland in October and went to the Queen of Tarts for lunch and dessert. Everything was delicious. We loved Ireland and it has been fun to read about your “adventures” there. I am jealous that you get to go back! Have fun!

  • It’s really disturbing to me that you didn’t have dessert. Really.

  • Seriously. No cake? I know Rand says you are “exactly the same” or whatever but ‘no cake’ is a very non-G move. It’s like I don’t even know you anymore. (sob sob run trip fall)

  • How could you pass up the cheesecake?? OMG! That quiche looked incredible. I’m hungry now.

  • Gill

    Looked this up on map and discovered this is literally next door to my company’s Irish office, so begged for this to be our lunch option on recent visit. It’s magical… exactly what a tea (tart) shop should be.

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