Posts Tagged ‘pubcrawl’

Unless you’re a newcomer to CHTM, you’ll know that on one Sunday a month the three of us, in the company of a small group of friends head out on a pub crawl, with pubs selected by one member of our troop but not revealed until we’re standing outside the door.

So, Halloween evening, and it was pubcrawl time again. This week, the pubs were selected by JFlood, the only person outside of the CHTM trio to have ventured to pick a route so far. The starting point was Charlemont Luas stop, not far from Ranelagh, so we had a fair idea what side of the city we were headed for. Four thirty was the alotted meet up, and we didn’t have far to go to the first stop, The Barge on Charlemont Street.

I’ve been told that on a warm Summers day, there’s nowhere like the place, getting your pint from the bar and then heading out to sit by the canal and enjoy it. No such luck today, four thirty, Halloween afternoon, dark and dreary Dublin. Not inside The Barge though, a large airy bar split into three levels, the ground floor, a mezzanine area and the second story.  A beautiful place to look at inside, and spotless throughout; I was quite taken with the place on first impressions. What I wasn’t mad about was that most of the trade was taken up by a Sunday lunch crowd. Now this isn’t an offence in itself, but I’m not crazy on the idea of having a few scoops somewhere in the knowledge that there’s a family tucking into dinner beside me. The food looked and smelled great, but it was the Guinness we were here for. We took up position in an excellent little snug hidden upstairs with a couch and two arm-chairs squeezed into it and hit the bar to be welcomed by the news that the barman would drop down our pints; a nice touch.  The pint, at €4.40 went down well- they obviously take pride in their presentation, as unlike a lot of places that do food, the glasses were spotless and the pint looked perfect. I quite liked this place, it was nice to be tucked away from the hustle and bustle, with the barman down to us after a few minutes asking if we wanted another. But, we were only staying for one so had to make our apologies.

The Barge Bar by Bill in DC, from Flickr

As expected, JFlood led us yet again away from our comfort zone of the city centre. His previous pubcrawls had taken us around The Liberties (my favourite pubcrawl yet by far) and Rathmines so it didn’t suprise me when we headed up Ranelagh Road.

The next pub was one I don’t think half of our group had ever set eyes on before, never mind set foot in. Hidden away on Mount Pleasant, behind the new school on Ranelagh Road and with rows of neighbouring on either side, The Hill is reminiscent, situation wise at least, of Gravediggers in Glasnevin- hidden away in  residential area. But as often the case, a hidden pub can be a hidden gem and such is the case for The Hill. A smashing looking bar inside and out, this place looks like its been here since time began; they’ve maintained the Victorian stylings down through the years, and is the kind of pub that feels like its been passed down through generations. A quick look in the Irish Times archive shows it was last on auction in 1999 so that dispels that notion.

We got a few inquisitive looks as we entered, a definite sign of a locals bar, but thats to be expected as the bar lies off the beaten track. The barman again offered to bring the pints down and we sat ourselves in a raised seating area up the back, under the telly. And whilst Liverpool were on, and there were a few regulars watching, the volume wasn’t pumped up as it would normally be and we had no problem talking over it. Not too far away from Rover’s heartland of Miltown here so myself and DFallon exchanged a few nods at the expense of the regulars nattering about their lifting of the LOI trophy on Friday night. It did suprise me when one of them let a roar out of him when Liverpool scored with a few minutes to go- in Rovers absence from Miltown, he had obviously adopted an English club… Again though, a beautiful pub.

The Hill, Ranelagh. Pic by Hellplex, from Flickr

Obviously extended into one of the houses next door, the pub seems a lot larger inside than it does out. The pints arrived, and at €4.15 certainly weren’t to be sniffed at; the pint of the night for me. Conversation flowed in this place, and where we normally end up ranting about Michael Collins towards the end of our monthly pubcrawl, he was a target of out venom in our second pub here, (well, more the Neil Jordan film about him. A car bomb? In Dublin Castle? Now there’s historical revisionism.) Nice warm bar, interesting surroundings, great pint and a spotless jacks led this to be pub (as well as pint) of the night for me.

So back into the cold and dark and onwards to our next stop, Russell’s in Ranelagh village. Another eatery this, but as the evening was getting their wasn’t too many around. An odd place this, for while in was clean and tastefully decorated, it just lacked a certain something- there wasn’t much on the walls to distinguish what kind of a crowd it draws; normally you have a few pictures, snaps of locals or whatever. Russell’s? Nothing that we could see. According to one of the lads, its a big rugby pub, but you wouldn’t know it apart from the ads on the front doors. The pint came in at €4.40 and wasn’t too bad, less care for the presentation here though as two of the four pints were over-filled, while not a mortal sin, its something I know the Guinness quality control team frown upon.

Russells of Ranelagh from YPYounge.ie

Where the first two pubs oozed character, both I would say due mainly to their locations (The Barge right next to a lock and The Hill looking like it was just dropped into a row of houses by accident, I just couldn’t take to this place- it felt more restaurant or bisto than bar, and I don’t think any of us felt too comfortable here. Upstairs looked great, and the smoking area is out on a balcony which is a nice touch but we didn’t fancy the cold so we stayed inside, again up under a telly at the back of the bar.

So onwards to Smyths, just down the road, but not before a quick stop in the Ranelagh chipper and bags of chips all round here. Suprising to see the McDonalds on the corner closed; you’d think they at least would weather the recession- apparently not. Anyway, into Smyths, quite a nice spot,  most of the tables inside occupied, and the ones that weren’t had glasses on them, suggesting a busy evening. With the football just over, I’d presume it was that. Up at the bar I ran into an ex- workmate of mine, a retired civil servant and she swears by this place; I trust her judgement.

Smyths of Ranelagh

As I said, there was a decent crowd in here, so we made our way out to the smoking area. Wood panelled, well heated with a flatscreen showing La Liga, we were all happy here. There are Trinity residences around the corner and what we presume were some of the residents, most of whom embraced the halloween spirit and were wearing fancy dress, took up most of the area, but we found a nice little corner right under a heater. The pint, at €4.45 was the business, well presented, a decent head and tasted great; or my belly may just have been happy from the bag of chips ten minutes earlier. One of the lads definitely got costume of the night approval from CHTM anyways as Super Mario walked past, moustache specially grown for the occasion. Legend. We stayed for a couple here, comfortable as we were, and Smyth’s is definitely a spot I’d have no qualms about coming back to.

I’ll be honest and say this is where it starts to get hazy. JFlood had the next spot picked, McSorley’s, only a few doors down. Chris, my old workmate had told me to head up there either way, recommending it as a great spot. And it was a great spot, though not necessarily my kind of spot. The barman was dead-on, dressed in the garb of the local secondary school, we knocked a bit of craic out of the American football on the telly that nobody seemed to be watching except him.

McSorleys, Ranelagh. from their Facebook

As I said, a nice place, candle lit tables lined the walls, and several of them were occupied. Where Smyth’s seemed to be a youger crowd, McSorley’s came across as more of a thirty- something spot.  They do food, and I’d say the place gets busy on a Friday and Saturday night (its a late bar and so stays open until two o’clock at weekends) but tonight was just a steady stream of custom so we nabbed ourselves a high table close to the bar. Pints were €4.45 and there were no complaints.

We did visit one more pub, Birchall’s but I’d be doing it an injustice to try and review it as I simply can’t remember a thing about the place other than that the pints were somewhere around the €4.40 mark and were fine. And I’m sorry, thats all I remember, not from the drink, honestly. Myself and DFallon were sober enough to make our way back to the Luas stop, somehow befriend the drunkest woman in the world (by befriend, I mean she came up and started talking to us before lying down on the platform.) So there you are, six pubs, five that I remember. Standout of the night though had to be The Hill. But for it’s Rovers associations, it’d be perfect.

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Peter's Pub

After Mother Nature tried her best to put us off our stride, and herself and Irish Rail conspired to delay me getting back to Dublin and causing the CHTM pub crawl to kick off a little later than usual, we met at Traitors Gate, well wrapped up against a very chilly Dublin Sunday evening. Traitors Gate as its known colloquially is the archway leading into Stephens Green and is so called because the inscriptions on its underside are the names of the Irishmen who fought and died in WW1, a subject that is still the inspiration for many an argument in Irish households. We had a quick gander at the names while waiting for a new attendee, JBrophy and decided to scarper as soon as he arrived, the cold being the cause; luckily we didn’t have too far to go to our first port of call which was to be Peters Pub, around the back of Stephens Green Shopping Centre. A lovely spot this, I’d been here a few times before when ambling around during the day – When you can get a seat, it’s the business; A pint and a toasted sandwich, I don’t think there’s a better combination. Unfortunately, the place was packed to the rafters with people stopping off for a break from the shopping and bags and big coats meant a tight squeeze for all. Not to be deterred, we took position at the back door and sampled the fare. A nice pint it has to be said but not a fantastic one, and at €4.80 was a little steep. But, no matter, it was grand and warm and the company and banter was good.

the Lord Edward.

With the lack of seats an issue, we didn’t stay long and were soon on our way to our next destination, The Lord Edward just across from Christchurch. A little moment of panic hit when the place looked like it was closed but that subsided quickly when we got around to the front door and it opened like a doorway into a different world, nice and warm with the offer of a tasty scoop at a bargain price of €4. I think we’d all been in here at various stages but I’ve always enjoyed the pint, a touch soft but tasty and much needed. The location of the pub was also a factor, being next to Burdocks was a big deciding factor. We got a few stools inside the door and were joined by another new head in the shape of kbranno, bringing his experience into the mix. A nice pub for a bit of banter this, though I’m not sure how many people were watching the Tenerife game on the telly above our heads. DFallon did comment though, that those among us that are into football drifted into a dreamlike state watching the game, it has that capacity to usurp conversation really. So we snapped out of it, got back to conversation and finished the pints. Out one door we went and in another, as we left for Leo Burdocks for a battered sausage and a scoop of chips.

The Brazen Head

You don’t get that too often, the free scoop of chips thrown in, but it was much appreciated and needed as we strolled through the cold to our next stop, The Brazen Head, on Lower Bridge Street. They say this is the oldest pub in Dublin and I don’t disagree. It’s a lovely place, one that a few of us had never thought to frequent, it being a little out of the way. Plenty to look at and talk about in here as we supped our pints in the “Robert Emmett” room, with all the signed dollars of visiting tourists and ancient posters on the walls. Again, we went back above the €4.50 mark for the scoop here but I’d say it was worth it- we got some nice seats and bantered back and forth about the man who the room was named after. While his speech from the dock has been repeated a thousand times, his rebellion itself was not so much brave as… a bit mad really. There’s quirks galore in this pub, if only you had the time to explore them, but the one that stands out is the etching on the window halfway up the stairs- A visiting journeyman etched his name, his occupation and the date on the window with his ring; dated at 1796, it was only a couple of years before the rebellion of 1798… I liked this pub but the night was getting on and we still had two stops to go.

Frank Ryans

For our first foray into the North-side, we headed across to Frank Ryans, Queen Street. I don’t know how I wasn’t in this place before, as although the Frank Ryan who owned this place was of no relation to the one who fought in the Spanish Civil War, the name inspired (as it always does) no end of conversation. I love a pub with an open fire and this place provided us with one, and a pool table, good music, warmth and a more-than-decent pint for €4.30. I think we all liked this place a lot and promised a return. The kitch décor of the place wasn’t too OTT but still seemed a little out of place, as it’s a locals pub and it doesn’t need the boots hanging from the roof or the Ballybofey signpost to make it Irish. If anything, they make it Oirish, and that’s not a good thing. We stayed for a couple here, such was the welcome, good music being played at a low volume, and the quality of the stout. A nice touch was the board with the newspaper clippings over the jacks; without it, I never would have known that Ho-Chi-Min worked as a kitchen porter in London…

So onwards and upwards to the highlight of the night; How could you venture down this part of the city without visiting The Cobblestone Bar in Smithfield Square- What a pub. They say you get the best Trad sessions in Dublin here and they aren’t too far off the mark. Far enough away from town to dissuade the cheesy ‘old sod’ ballad bollocks, the musicians here are top notch. We didn’t get much of a chance to enjoy it, such were the crowds thronged around the music, leaving us in a precarious position beside the front door, and so we headed down into the bowels of the pub, and got a nice spot out of the way. The pint was without a doubt the best of the night, you know when you get a top pint as it satisfies down to the last mouthful, the head stayed creamy and white on each of the pints we had, a joy to behold and far from some of the muck you pick up around the Temple Bar area. I really like this pub, I haven’t been here enough, it’s only a ten minute walk from O’Connell Street but psychologically much further I guess… But, I reckon Sunday nights visit will be the boot up the arse we need to start heading there on a more regular basis. I don’t know how to describe it; this place just feels like a pub is supposed to feel, the hum of conversation and laughter, the musicians in the corner, top barstaff and good craic.

So there you go, part three of the CHTM pubcrawls, and a nice trip across the city it was too. Next months pubs will be chosen by JCarax, and I’m looking forward to it already!

December’s five pubs were:

1. Peter’s Pub, South William Street.

2. The Lord Edward, Christchurch Place.

3. The Brazen Head, Lower Bridge Street.

4. Frank Ryan and Sons, Queen Street.

5. The Cobblestone, King Street North.

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