I’ve always liked South Great George’s Street in Dublin (well, one side of it anyway). I like its proportions, the attractive red brick facades and the way it sweeps down to Dame Street. It’s a pity it’s always been run down, that various attempts to pretty it up have not been successful and that the planning authorities sometime in the 1970s (probably) sanctioned the destruction of a big chunk of its west side in favour of an anonymous block.

Shops in particular seem to have been spectacularly unsuccessful. Pubs and restaurants are another matter. From the long established Long Hall and The George to the new Rustic Stone, South Great George’s Street has plenty of drinkeries and eateries of all styles and types, and to suit most pockets.

I’m pretty sure the Market Arcade on South Great George’s Street is unique. I can’t think of any other arcade in Dublin with such a curious mix of market stalls and permanent shops. It’s a must for anybody looking for vintage clothes. Retro, near the South Great George’s Street entrance has been in the arcade for about 20 years and I remember buying a tuxedo there about 12 years ago. The arcade is also a place where you can find vinyl records, old coins and badges, posters and old advertising signs, hats and scarves, and get your ears pierced. It has a few eateries: Simon’s Cafe is probably the best known of them but it, unfortunately, has nothing more substantial than soup or a cake for a fiver.

Honest To Goodness, on the other hand, and at the other end, is a bit of a find. I had coffee there a few weeks ago when I had time on my hands. Nice coffee it was too and the atmosphere was very pleasant and calming. I noticed than that, although most of the items on the menu are between €6.95 and €8 to eat in (but between €5.20 and €6.50 to take away), they do a special every day for a fiver. I’m not going to list the specials here – you can find them on their Facebook page.

Today's venue

Friday’s special is a Sloppy Joe. In Honest to Goodness this is spicy minced beef, a slice of cheddar cheese, a slice of tomato and some mayonnaise between two slices of bread baked in the shop. You get two of these and a couple of spoonsful of couscous. What’s more, you get a choice of breads. The young lad chose white bread and I chose tomato bread.

My Sloppy Joe

The young lad tucking in

Honest to Goodness is small. And narrow. About two thirds of it is taken up with a kitchen/serving area, the remaining third containing ten small tables seating two people each. It’s popular. I had heard this and so we arrived at about 12.20. From the door it looked packed. And there seemed to be a substantial queue. It turned out, however, that the queue contained people who had ordered food to take away and it so happened that there were a few tables free.

The internals

It’s a busy place. I counted seven people behind the counter cutting, spooning, assembling, coffee making, getting ready to serve food, and clearing up. The seating area is a tiny bit cramped and the young lad observed that it’s not a place for having a private conversation. That being said, it’s not uncomfortable and it’s not unlike many lunch places you’ll find in the city. And it does have a busy but warm and friendly atmosphere, with unobtrusive decent music.

The food came quickly, with glasses of water, and we tucked in. The Sloppy Joes were delicious. The meat was nicely spiced with a pleasant and not overpowering chilli heat, the tomato fresh, the mayo tasty and the couscous moist. The cheese slices were a little superfluous, I felt. The portions were generous and it was very filling. This was an excellent value meal.

The bit I love

I read some reviews of Honest To Goodness written on other sites. A few mentioned, in negative terms, the service. We found it fine. Our order was taken efficiently, we were helpfully pointed to a free table, our food was served with a smile, plates were cleared from tables quickly and without fuss, and the cash transaction at the end was handled with a smile and pleasant conversation.

This is certainly a place to revisit. Have a look at the menu on the site. There are some gorgeous looking sandwich combinations, fresh soups and nice looking breakfasts. I recommend it very highly.

*The traditional Sloppy Joe is an American invention consisting of minced beef cooked with tomato and served in a hamburger bun. I’m sure I saw a TV programme once that suggested that it was the precursor of the hamburger but I’m not certain that that’s true.