The doors to the stunning Stella Theatre were first flung open in 1923. Originally designed by architectural firm Higginbotham & Stafford it held 1,283 patrons, making it Ireland’s largest cinema at that time. In keeping with its Art Deco roots, the first floor was a ballroom and an incredible fountain took pride of place in the foyer. Today a more spacious theatre seating just 216 which includes 66 on the balcony is a cinema like no other in this country. Rows of deep leather couches and armchairs with small, side tables topped with dimly illuminated lampshades fill this glorious space. Standing at the back of the auditorium this theatre in all its glory truly is a sight to behold.
The Stella has been lovingly restored and still boasts some of its original features which include the original facade, granite pilasters that were uncovered as well as a typical Art Deco handrail leading up to the first floor balcony. Mosaic tiling of the original Stella logo and the stunning original decorative ceiling mouldings have been so carefully restored and are now dotted throughout the theatre. The Press-Up Group most definitely have a signature style and it is displayed in abundance here in this wonderful venue.
To encapsulate the Stella Experience we decided to see the all time classic Casablanca which was showing on Friday evening. Settling into our comfy couch, with the help of Bergman and Bogart we are immediately immersed in the full luxury of the Stella Experience. Wine and popcorn in hand whilst we awaited the arrival of Buttermilk Panko Chicken Tenders and Fries to our couch side tables makes for one very appealing way to while away a Friday evening.
The audience that ascended on the Stella for this particular movie was one full of chatty, joy filled beauty. A scattering of thirty and forty somethings were wildly out numbered by our more senior counter parts, this alone was such a lovely experience. One lovely lady spoke in the aisle about her last visit to the Stella many years previous. Her joy and excitement palpable at the evening of old school romance that lay ahead. When we were exiting the auditorium a jolly gentleman happily exclaimed that Casablanca is a movie that gets better every time you watch it, we absolutely agree.
Because it was Friday and we love a night out in Dublin we had booked a table in The Stella Cocktail Club for cocktails after the movie. With a sumptuous list of cocktails to choose from, we settled on a Whiskey Sour €11.00 and a Sazerac €12.00. Despite having munched our way through the movie the small plates on offer were too tempting to pass up. After scouring the all American Diner style menu we decided on Tempura Shrimp, Lemon Aioli €7.95 and Mini Soft Tacos of Slow cooked Sticky BBQ Korean Pork €7.95. Both dishes were tasty and made for perfect drink side snackage. A busy little spot, it would appear booking is essential. We were very promptly advised when our two hour slot was up that we could not order another drink. This is stated on the website but we hadn’t noticed it so an abrupt end to an otherwise wonderful evening.
Showing a selection of the latest blockbusters as well as many well loved classics, the glitz and glamour of the Stella Theatre is alive and kicking today.
207-209 Rathmines Road Lower,
REVIEW BY KEITH MAHON