February 1, 2010

Reflections and Drinking in Ireland (part III)

The Brazen Head (2.5 out of 5)
20 Bridge Street Lower, Dublin 8

This Dublin icon is the oldest pub in the city. In a way, you just have to go to say that you went. If you go, you will find Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) sports such as hurling (cool field hockey in the air with sticks) on the TV. Only part of the original pub remains but the entire place looks the part. There are three wings to the pub; which creates a courtyard in the middle. By any standard it is a quiet place in the otherwise bustling rush hour. The tap selection is fine and features…Budweiser? This is a drawback. Even though the Budweiser served in Europe is of far higher quality than Bud served in the states (seems pretty unfair), you still feel like this piece of Irish history is too commercialized. Their seafood chowder  and other good eats does save the day and make this landmark an average pub and, therefore, worth a visit. Speaking of good eats, you may want to check out…

Bruxelles (2.5 out of 5)
7-8 Harry Street, Dublin 2

Bruxelles advertises itself as an international pub. If that can be measured by number of flags hanging from the walls, then Bruxelles lives up to the billing.  In reality Bruxelles is a good representative of the “Celtic Tiger,” culture that Ireland had been recently been known for. Though the international recession has hit it hard, the basis of Ireland’s economic revival has been financial houses. Even now, Grafton Street is a haven for Ireland’s version of Wall Street yuppies. It is located of Grafton Street. Grafton is a very trendy network of shops and pubs that is worth a window shop (unless you come loaded). In the same vein, most of the pubs on Grafton Streets are crowded with the financial sector crowd. It bears a visit if just to see a, perhaps, fading part of modern Ireland. A trip to Grafton at about 5 or so features men and women in tight fitting suits and pointy leather shoes pack into outdoor patios like sardines. Their gelled hair and elevated chins fail to hide their generally jovial nature but there is an unmistakable feel of pretension. Bruxelles is only a slight exception to this rule.

Tourists seem more apt to enter. You will find spirited locals. You will also find the best gosh-darn Sheppard’s pie I have eaten in a while. Your best bet is to sit at the bar. However, the weather may allow you to sit outside on the lovely patio. At the very least, this pub makes for good people watching in Dublin’s foremost shopping district. Dublin being an old city made up of districts, it also has a designated drinking district: Temple Bar. While not an actual bar, except when it is (I’ll explain later), Temple Bar is an impressive collection of pubs, hostels, and eateries lined with cobblestone streets which seem to jump up and bit drunks. The highly visible jewel of this district is…

Oliver St. John Gogarty’s (4.0 out of 5)
Coming Next Week!

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