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Occurring in the form of premises decorated with ephemera alluding to places and people of no significance to local culture – the overseas ‘Irish Bar’ is an ever-intriguing anomaly.

Of course, we’re more than aware that most are likely a mere means to generate profit, but it’s sometimes still a difficult task to silence that voice in your head (that same one verbalises, after a pint or two, to ask the Garçon in McNulty’s in La-Rochelle whether he’s ever been to Ballyfermot) from bigging-up the fact that the most popular variant of drinking establishment, worldwide, is that which replicates your own native one.

Kimchi Hophouse: Parnell St.

It would, though, make you wonder how others feel about similar circumstances. What would, say a native Korean, think about Dublin’s flagship Korean watering hole: Kimchi-Hophouse? Answers on a postcard, please.

Sitting in the somewhat Asian district of Parnell Street: Kimchi-Hophouse trades in a premises that’s been involved in the purveying of intoxicants since 1848 and which, much to our delight, retains the signage bearing its former name: The Shakespeare. The reason for this we’re not sure of. Whether it was a decision based on finances or a deliberate nod to the past is uncertain, but we’re sure Will-o himself would approve. Past being prologue, and all that.

As it turns out, a Korean bar in Dublin isn’t that unusual in the grand scheme of things. The similarities between Korea and Ireland are many, with some even referring to Korea as the Ireland of Asia. It’s also well reported that Korea is a country not too dissimilar to ourselves when it comes to the partaking of a few social beverages. A fact that is easily evident when you consider that their national spirit – Soju, was the world’s best-selling type of liquor in 2017.

This is all good and well, but the 72-Billion KRW ($64M at the time of writing) question is whether this all translates to persons of Korean lineage running a good boozer? And using Kimchi-Hophouse as an example, the answer is yes. A narrow sort of pub, its appearance is characterised by a light blue and white colour scheme with homely wooden flooring underfoot. TVs are ubiquitous and my companion, a far more discerning football fan than I, agreed that the pub is a perfect setting in which to take in a match. The drink on offer comprises of both craft and mainstream, and the prices – all of which are helpfully displayed upon labels hung from the taps, are good. The Guinness was of a very high standard, costing a mere and moreish €4.50 a pint.

The overall vibe of the place is a buzzy one and the adjoining restaurant means there is plenty of movement from the kitchen which is situated somewhere toward the back of the pub. On any visit we’ve found the crowd to generally be a young one, with trendy inclinations. Many of them seem opt to occupy the smoking area out the back of the pub. The staff are sound too and our only complaint about the experience of the pub was an ordering process which seems to come into effect in the evening whereby one can only be served if they are standing within the confines of a relatively small section of the bar. This we found to be an unnecessary practice especially so when it was enforced with a strictness that meant a you’d miss out on the chance of service if you were merely a foot out of place.

But overall, we’re very fond of this boozer -having all the adventurousness of a departure from the norm with all of the comforts of the familiar – Kimchi-Hophouse is a pub we’ll definitely revisit, even if only to try some of this Soju stuff.

O Reilly’s is a controversial one here at DBP. I dare say that there are little or no other pubs in the city that polarise the opinions of myself and Pintman № 2 quite like O Reilly’s does.

O Reilly’s: Tara St. Station.

Now in the red corner, you have me – someone who considers themselves as something of a rocker. Admittedly I’m not in so deep that you’ll find me wearing leather in the summer, or at all really. And to be entirely truthful Fibber Magee’s is on the heavier side of the subculture I subscribe to. A pub such as O Reilly’s was to ingratiate itself to me by filling a void left in the wake of the dearly departed Eamon Doran’s in a timely manner. The offer of decent tunes that didn’t stay too heavy, too long coupled with one of the cheapest pints in town was a combination that warranted no critique on my part.

In the blue corner though you have Pintman № 2, more of a Mod than a rocker, and a man who reckons that the shot spinning wheel in O Reilly’s allows him to liken it to the type of pub you’d expect to find an electrical rodeo bull in. His assessment of the pub is then garnished with his opinion that the seating is too “dinner-tabley”.

(Pintman № 3 being his usual diplomatic self, plays the referee in this bout, in case you were wondering).

The pub itself lies under Tara St railway station and is divided into three main atriums. The fit-out is gothic-cum-ecclesiastical, defining features include metal chandeliers, church pews and a large fireplace. The lighting is mostly dim in keeping with the rock bar aesthetic. The pint has tended to be good but in the interest of full disclosure, it is worth mentioning that our last number of visits here have been at an ungodly hour, following an ungodly feed of pints.

O Reilly’s is a fine lesson in hypocrisy and subjectivity- in some parallel universe, I’d probably detest it. But it happened to hit all the right notes at the right time for me, so I don’t. Just don’t tell Pintman № 2.

Foxes bear a terrible brunt when you think about it. The poor creatures cannot be spoken about without a mention of the word sly or sneaky or indeed the word wiley. One can only imagine the consternation that typecasting an entire section of the human population like we do with foxes would bring about.

The Wiley Fox: Eden Quay

That said, there is no smoke without fire and surely foxes are sly creatures. I like to think that The Wiley Fox was so named due to its proximity to the myriad of bus termini on its doorstep, because what could be sneakier than ducking in for a quick scoop and catching a later bus than intended. Who would dare disbelieve that the bus didn’t come.

We recently dropped into The Wiley Fox of a Thursday afternoon when it was ticking over with an afterwork crowd. We’d waited out many’s the bus in the pub in its former guise as The Pint and we were looking forward to seeing how it had settled in following its renovation.

The décor of the pub is largely modern and is product of the design specs predefined in many of the craft beer/cocktail joints which have popped up across the city. Plush armchairs provide seating in the first atrium of the pub upon entrance, more traditional seating takes up the reigns once in the main heart of the pub alongside the bar. A few fox themed bits are displayed throughout and the older features of the pub are nicely taken into the new design.

A Hawaiian themed night was in its early stages when we arrived, it being denoted by the tikki decoration and the staff’s colorful t-shirts and concern for the whereabouts of pineapples. We propped up the bar and called for two scoops. The staff were commendable on their service. The Barman returned the two pints as swiftly as one should to customers who may be shortly making a dash for a bus. His attention to detail was noted when he replaced the pint onto a beermat having noticed the absence of one. The pint itself was good and not too offensively priced either.

All in all we couldn’t fault the Wiley fox to harshly. It’s a fine boozer which has taken newer pub design features and not gone overboard with them. We look forward to missing the bus the next time around.

The funny thing about the pubs of Dublin is that they can easily be likened to the types of characters that inhabit the city itself. Take the likes of Mulligan’s or The Palace – I like to think of these pubs as wise elders; grandparents who dispense with worthwhile advice at the drop of a hat without prior notice. Then take the likes of your Strand Houses and your Auld Triangles. These are a bit more like the local rogues from around where you grew up. The ne’er-do-wells who people dislike but you don’t mind because they were always okay to you.

The Thomas House: Thomas St.

Now where does The Thomas House lay in this array of clichéd characters? Simple! This pub is your proverbial Hollywood portrayal of a cooler older brother. He has the tunes, the motorbike and the way with the ladies. He’ll stick up for you and buy you a few cans. He’s sound.

The Thomas House is a smallish rockabilly bar with neither air nor grace, Its essence is perfectly encapsulated in the fact that Morrissey (him of The Smiths) was pictured pouring a pint of the black stuff behind the bar here shortly after Guinness publicised the fact that their flagship brew had gone vegan. An act that surely brings new poignancy to the song title ‘How Soon Is Now?’
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The pub is a hub for alternative sub-cultures, but not in a manner that disbars outsiders. Dim lighting punctuated with flourishes of neon is the luminance of choice. A large fishtank greets those who enter; following the narrow length of the bar they will find a hefty Jukebox and adjoining DJ box at the back of the room – the walls around which have been dressed with old 45s. Flags adorn the ceiling while the walls display liquor signage, music memorabilia and general rockabilly décor. The jaxx is a pokey affair and is wallpapered in comic strips for good measure.

The bar itself is no craftperson’s masterpiece but does boast an impressive array of options given its size. The Guinness is a great pour and the craft options are well picked and some of the best priced ones in the city. It may be the author’s favourite spot for a craft brew in Dublin and it’s certainly his only choice for a jar before Vicar St. Highly Recommended!