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City of Words: Trocadero

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Dublin restaurant Trocadero is something of an institution, with both theatre-goers and actors enjoying a pre-show meal there since the 1950s. Maitre d’ Robert Doggett reflects on his time working at this very special spot.

City of Words: Trocadero

Ask any Dubliner about the city’s thriving theatre scene, and they’re sure to mention Trocadero on St. Andrew’s Street. Established almost 60 years ago, this eatery has welcomed countless thespians through its doors. The proof is in their smiling faces, now adorning the walls.

Most images, including Colin Farrell, Robert Sheehan and Aidan Gillen, to name but a few, feature handwritten messages thanking Robert personally. Having worked there for almost 30 years, he was initially employed as a chef. “I worked my nights off as a waiter because the customers seemed much more interesting than the food,” he recalls. “A lot of them have become my very good friends.”

Different era

Visitors to Trocadero have certainly changed over the years. Robert recalls a particular trend during the pre-digital 1980s; “journalists used to come in a lot. We had a phone box, so they’d use it to ring in their copy. Then they’d sit down with a bottle of red wine and enjoy the rest of the night. It was a different era.”

Though the phone box is a thing of the past, Robert says they still have lots of regulars. “One man has been coming in every Thursday for the last 35 to 40 years, while his wife plays bridge. He always orders the same thing, even though it’s not on the menu – he actually has his own special button on the till!”

City of Words: Trocadero
City of Words: Trocadero

Younger generation

The restaurant’s old-timely ambience attracts a younger generation too. “We get young couples coming in on first dates, feeling very grown up because it’s a fancy restaurant. And yet we’re casual,” he adds. “We’re not overly formal, and we encourage everyone to pay us a visit.”

What does he think make a visit to Trocadero so special? “It’s great to be able to bring someone to a restaurant that’s been here 58 years and is a part of the map of Dublin,” he says. “There’s always the distraction of the photos too, so you can build chat around that, which is handy for a second date, or bored couples who’ve been married 45 years,” he laughs. “It gives them something to talk about too!”

Theatre scene

Robert is a theatre fan himself and has seen a change in the theatre scene. “It’s definitely much more accessible now and cheaper too, which is important.”

Among the many famous faces who’ve come through the Trocadero doors, we ask who’s stood out most in Robert’s memory. “Johnny Depp was at table 23 one night with Julianne Moore,” he recalls. “He was lovely fella and was all chat. The following day I was walking through the Westbury Hotel, and someone called me by my first name and it was him. He asked me how I was and where I’d been after work. I’ve always been very impressed by that.”

City of Words: Trocadero

At this stage, Robert is able to gauge guests’ moods quite quickly. “You can sense the mood within a minute”, he smiles. “If it’s not good, I can either leave them to it, or try to pull them out of it. I can judge people pretty well.”

Trocadero’s pre-theatre menu is available daily from 5pm and is ideally situated within ten minutes walking distance of the Abbey Theatre, Project Arts, The New Theatre, Smock Alley and the Olympia, while the Gate Theatre is a 15-minute stroll or short taxi ride away.