Posts Tagged ‘Restaurant Royale’

I popped into this ‘pub’ with two friends last Thursday afternoon.

We all wish we hadn’t.

The scrawled hand written sign on the corner of the street announcing €3 pints ‘all day every day’ should have probably been the first warning sign.

The interior decoration of the place should have been the second. It looked like a second-rate Chinese takeaway in a small Monaghan town. Freshly painted shiny yellow walls, gawky bright ceiling lights and cheap, tacky paintings (€2 each in Hector Grays [RIP] job) covering the place.

We ordered three pints of Guinness off the energetic Asian woman who seemed to be running the place single-handedly. Our third and final warning sign should have been when we saw the pints that she dropped down to us. We should have left there and then.

I’m only a recent convert to Guinness and don’t claim to be in any way an expert but I can tell you that these were the single worst looking pints I’ve ever seen my life. They tasted even worse.

KBranno remarked that the place was more like a ‘drop in centre’ than a pub. He had a point. The dozen or so people, mostly middle-aged bearded men, in the place were all fixated on a small black TV in the corner that was showing the Afternoon Show (RTÉ). It was a very surreal experience.

We finally decided to leave. Leaving our half-finished pints.

It was well worth paying the extra €1.50 for a decent pint, a nice atmosphere and a friendly bartender down the road in The Long Hall.

Restaurant Royale, Upper Stephens Street.

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(A review of of the pubs, clubs and gigs)

Sunday, 27 December:

As cabin fever was setting in after a full 48 hours with my Christmas obsessed mother, I decided to meet up with my friend Paul for a drink on Sunday evening, the day after Stephens Day.

We met at the top of Grafton Street and strolled down to Ruaille Buaille on South King Street (formerly called both Major Tom’s and Down Under) as we heard they were doing €3 drinks. To our disappointment, it was closed. For good. Another victim of the recession.

Grafton Street (contemporaryphotograph.com)

Our Plan B was the ‘Restaurant Royale’ on Upper Stephens Street which I read online were doing €3.50 pints. It also turned out to be closed.

Thankfully our Plan C, ‘Karma’ on Fishamble Street was open. Usually a popular spot for its drink deals, the place was empty on this particularly night.

While we were sipping our drinks, a French couple weighed down with luggage walked into the bar. With them was their Dublin taxi driver. The three of them seemed a bit stressed. From what we could gather, the couple had booked online to stay in the connected George Frederic Handel Hotel back in early December. However, no one had told them that the hotel shut up business three weeks ago and now they were stranded on a cold, Sunday evening in Dublin without accommodation. Thanks to the friendliness of the taxi driver, a few young locals at the bar and a security guard outside, the couple were able to quickly secure a room at a hotel around the corner. As of today, the hotel’s website is still online which is a bit dodgy, especially if they’re still accepting bookings.

As Karma was no better than a cold, empty warehouse, we finished our drinks and headed around the corner to The Turks Head. I’ve always liked The Turks Head for some reason. The interior is lovely, the staff are always friendly, they have great ska nights on Thursdays and you can get a pint of fosters for €3.75. Though I’ve been through the doors many times, I only noticed that evening that they served food. Feeling a bit peckish I ordered a portion of Garlic Bread and Vegetarian Spring Rolls, which I shared with Paul. The servings were generous, the quality decent and at only €3 something each, they were a bargain.

The Bionic Rats @ The Turks Head. Every Sunday.

At this point, the messer DFallon walked in, on time as usual. We finished up our pints and strode up to The Lord Edward at Christ Church Place where we were to meet an old friend Oisin who was home for Christmas from London. The pub was buzzing with little clutters of friends and work mates in every corner laughing and drinking the evening away. The celeb spotter in me noticed Roddy Doyle sipping a Guinness with two friends. We had an enjoyable night of banter and reminiscing. Begrudgingly leaving at around 11.15pm in order to get the last bus. The steaming salt and vinegar chips from Burdocks being my only comfort as I traipsed down Dame Street to catch my bus.

Monday, 28 December:

On Monday evening I went to see Madness in The Point Theatre (O2) with my younger brother. My ma had won two tickets at a work raffle and passed them on to me. Though I’ve always been a Specials’ man, I always had time for Madness. They produce catchy, pop songs – ‘My Girl’, ‘It Must Be Love’, ‘Our House’ and my personal favourite ‘Deceives The Eye’. I was excited. I had never seen Madness live before and I hadn’t been to the new 02.

As we entered the venue, three separate members of security checked our tickets. It all seemed a bit over the top. I headed over to the bar to get a pint. My choices of larger were Carlsberg, Carlsberg or Carlsberg. The barman asked for I.D. No problem, I thought, handing over my Age Card, he’s only doing his job. He studied the picture, looked at me, checked the Date of Birth and then looked at me again before casually mentioning that they “only serve alcohol to individuals over the age of 21”. What a joke.

We ended up paying exorbitant prices for soft drinks. The whole mood of the place was wrong. It didn’t feel right going to Madness with groups of families scoffing Tayto crisps and big bags of popcorn all around you. Depressed looking twenty something year olds walking around the aisles selling plastic bottles of Carlsberg like it was a baseball game in the States. It was along way from when Madness played the Olympic Ballroom off Camden Street in 1980.

Jerry Dammers from The Specials acted as the warm up DJ (Dammers famously had a big falling out with the rest of the band meaning that he didn’t join them on their triumphant 30th anniversary tour). There’s no doubt that Dammers was an excellent DJ and has a unrivalled knowledge of ska particularly the early Trojan and Studio One records. However, he shouldn’t have been the one trying to warm up such a huge crowd and venue. Leave Dammers for the after show party. Madness should of got one of the many local hardworking ska bands to act as support. The Bionic Rats, Present Arms, Skazz or The Gangsters come to mind. Fact of the matter is – it doesn’t work well to have a DJ in the middle of a massive stage, playing old 45s, trying to loosen up the crowd in a venue the size of large warehouse.

Following a long wait and an anti climatic 10mins ‘short’ documentary about the early days of Madness that they shown on a screen that was too small above the stage, the band came on. As hoped, they were on form, belting out hit after hit. The crowd went nuts. Decent end to a bad start.

Afterwards, I went down to meet Dfallon and some of his school friends (who I’ve since befriended) down in Mulligans on Poolbeg Street. The place was surprisingly busy for a Monday evening. By the time I finished queuing up and had the first sip of my pint, the gang had begun to put on their coats. This was a pub-crawl and our next stop was Kehoe’s on South Anne Street. The whole place was packed. It’s no fun trying to have a pint and a chat when you risk knocking someone’s drink by turning around. After Kehoe’s, we began an ardent quest to find a nightclub that was open on a Bank Holiday. We had no luck. Everywhere decent place was closed and every kip was full. Roll on New Years Eve.

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