Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Some more bars

Hi everyone,

I haven’t written anything in a while, so I thought I’d give you a little update on my pub list. But first I would like to say hi to my colleague Kimberley, who is the newest reader of my blog. 
So Hi Kim, hope you enjoy my stories.

As there wasn’t much sports to watch over the weekend, I decided to knock off another couple of bars here in Dublin. The count is currently 780, so another milestone, number 800, is rapidly approaching. I have already decided that #800 will be Cheers! In Boston, which is where I’m going next week. But before we get to that point, I have another week of work ahead of me.
So, here are the new bars I visited recently:

774. Lafayette

Situated on a corner of Westmoreland street, this place, as you would expect with a name like that, aims to drum up the image of a New York cocktail lounge, and they appear to succeed in that. I was there during the afternoon, and it wasn’t terribly busy, though the table behind me hosted a noisy group of 3 guys who, one of them told me (twice) had been drinking since 7 in the morning (we are in Ireland after all) and were conducting a very entertaining conversation with a Vietnam veteran (You can’t make stuff like that up, can you?). I had a pint of O’Hara’s Irish craft lager and read a magazine. All pints are 4 euro by the way, which is  a pretty decent price for the location. The bartender was busy making  pretty looking cocktails, though I must say that he took his time to put them together. There is a night club in the basement, I was informed, and I guess it tends to get rather busy later in the day. There is interesting artwork on the walls and the toilet is full of graffiti, which is pretty cool. I finished my pint and went on my way. 

I initially had the plan to go down to Wexford Street, but didn’t quite make it that far. Instead, I went to a pub that I had walked past on many occasions, but had never visited

775. The Bank

This bar is situated across the street from the Irish Central Bank and it used to be a bank before they turned it into a pub. The place, I must say, looks beautiful.  It has a vaulted ceiling with very nice decorations on it. There is an island bar with an anthracite marble top and and a sort of balcony that creates a two level effect. The pints were a bit more expensive that I would normally pay, but the look of the place sort of makes up for that.  If you’re ever in the neighbourhood, give it a try.

After leaving The Bank, I made my way up George’s Street and walked past The George, a gay nightclub. As the Dublin gay pride event had taken place earlier in the day, the place was packed to the rafters and a lot of people were standing outside on the street,  having a drink.
I made my way further down the street and eventually ended up in

776. Tony’s Bar

This place will look familiar, even if you haven’t been there before. The reason for this is that it features in a Carlsberg commercial that was shot there for the Euro2012 tournament, and therefore changed it’s name to TrapatTony’s Bar. (see how clever that is? Tony – Trapattoni. Genius). Another thing that you will notice straight away, is that it is basically a Northsider pub, despite being clearly on the Southside of the city.  For those of you who have little or no knowledge of the North Side-South Side divide in Dublin, it’s basically like this: North Siders are working class Irish people with a strong Dublin accent, who watch Gaelic Football and boxing. Southsiders are middle class people who watch rugby and drive saloon cars. Ofcourse, this is a very simple and basic generalisation, but that’s roughly the gist of it. (Upper class people, if you were interested, live in Dalkey with Bono) One way Southsiders like to illustrate the differences is by pointing out that all embassies are on the South Side, while all prisons are on the North Side. In any case, when I walked into this bar, I was surprised to see an abundance of people in Dublin GAA jerseys and speaking with Northside accents. Pints were cheap at EUR3,50 and there was horse racing on tv. I had a chat with a couple of the people at the bar, who were all keen to point out  that their local had featured in a beer commercial. After finishing  my pint, I walked down to the Foggy Dew, for old time’s sake, and found to my surprise that they now sell Foster’s.  A couple of my friends were there as well, so I had a quick chat with them before going to the Woolshed for the rest of the night. 

777. Stoney’s Bar

This place looks a bit rough from a distance, but once you’re inside, it’s not actually that bad. It is a hard core working class  North Side pub, and I was the only one in the place that wasn’t wearing a Dublin jersey or track suit bottoms or both. The place has a bit of a worn out feel over it, with a bare wooden floor and walls with peeling paint,which adds to the authenticity. Pints, again, were cheap and there was a good buzz to the place, with Croke Park being just minutes away and everyone in anticipation of the  game later that day. I had a pint of Carlsberg and then went back home to drop off my back pack, as I was planning to go watch the final of EURO2012 later in the day.

Before I went to the pub to watch the final,  however, I wanted to visit another pub in the area.

778. The Dublin Supporters Bar

This place on Parnell Street East  has a bit of history to it. When I first moved to Dublin, this was a Polish pub. I had been in there once, because word around the campfire was that they were showing Dutch football, but this turned out not to be the case and I didn’t have a drink then. It was closed shortly after and later re-opened after the place was painted in camouflage style green and brown. That place closed too and some time ago it re-opened again after the place was painted navy and sky blue, the colors of the Dublin flag and  GAA teams.
The Dublin Supporters bar is a right dive. And I don’t mean that in the cool American sense of the word, but in that it is a shithole.  The crowd was rough and, at 4 in the afternoon, everyone was dead drunk.  ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams was on the stereo at full blast and the whole pub was singing along to it at the top of their voices. A  group at the back of the bar, all dressed in track suits, were dancing to the music, pints held aloft. The place smelled horrendous, like no fresh air had come in there for a couple of years. The walls were decorated with pictures of the Dublin football team, Irish boxers I had never heard of and, notably, a green and white football scarf saying ‘NO HUNS IN EUROPE’. I ordered  a pint, which was attractively priced at EUR 3,50 and watched the whole spectacle with interest. I was the only person in the bar that didn’t go for a smoke in the half hour or so that I was there.  While it was an interesting experience, it is not a place I would go to on a regular base, first of all because it’s not a nice place and second because there are 3 great pubs within a 3 minute walking distance.

Last week, we got word of a new Australian restaurant that had opened in Dublin, so me, Renae and a friend of ours decided to check it out.  The place had only opened a week earlier or so, which always adds a bit of risk in that the place may not be running as smooth as it might later. I must say, the food was excellent and affordable. I had a pulled pork sandwich and it tasted great. The fries that I had ordered on the side were good too. Service was okay and in general the whole experience was pretty good. There were just 2 things that weren’t up to scratch. First the place didn’t have a liqor license yet, so the Foster’s tap in the corner went unused. Second of all, as I ordered a glass of water instead, it turned out that they didn’t have an ice machine either because all our soft drinks were served without ice. So there is some room for improvement, but other than that I would certainly recommend going for a bite to eat there.  Ofcourse, because they didn’t sell beer yet, I couldn’t count it.
After lunch, we walked back into the city centre and stopped at

779. The International

This pub, by the look of it, is nothing too exciting, just a small rectangular room with a wall bar to the back and 2 very smelly toilets in the corner. This pub’s main claim to fame, however, is the room upstairs where stand up comedy nights take place  on a regular basis. Some of the countries biggest comedy names have performed here over the years. While we were having a drink, a guy of advancing age, who looked like this may not have been  the first time he was having a drink before dinner time, walked up to our table and picked up my sunglasses. When I looked at him to see what he was up to, he put the sunglasses on , started playing air guitar and said he was Ray Charles. After some 10 seconds, he ended his silent performance, put back my sunglasses and stumbled back to his stool and his Guinness, both conveniently located about 4 feet away.
As I said, the comedy is supposed to be pretty good here, but other than that I couldn’t really see any features that would distinguish it from 200 other generic pubs in Dublin. 

We decided to make another stop before heading back to the north Side and settled on

780. The Dame Tavern.

For some reason, I expected this place to be some grand 2 level lounge, but as we walked in, it turned out it was a single very basic bar room, with an L shaped bar in the corner and 2 tv screens showing horse racing. The atmosphere was pretty good, a couple of older guys were sitting at the bar sipping Guinness and watching the ponies, while a group of guys from Glasgow, on the back of a stag night by the look of it, were occupying the table next to ours and were busy setting up for the night ahead, judging by the number of empty bottles on the table. We had a drink and I had the occasional look at the Wimbledon ladies final, which Renae was carefully avoiding as she was recording the game and didn’t want to know the score.  By the time one of the Scottish guys was explaining how his uncle had been involved in a train accident that was depicted in a picture on the wall (and had taken place in 1904, just for the record) we decided to hit the road. As the weather was great, I decided to watch the rest of the tennis in the biergarten at The Living Room and had  a couple more beers in the sun.

So there we are, 780 bars and rapidly approaching 800.

See you soon!


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