Tuesday 8th of July is just a date. A Tuesday. In early July. Why is it significant? Well, it is significant because this particular Tuesday saw the opening of JD Wetherspoons first pub in the Republic of Ireland. They have several pubs in Northern Ireland but this is their first skirmish south of the border.
Wetherspoons pubs have a certain image attached to them sometimes unfairly as soulless drinking dens with no atmosphere etc, but I’d equate them to any large chain operation. There will be good ones and there will be bad ones. But I will always make up my own mind and not be led by the NIMBY brigade.
When it was announced that they had purchased the Tonic pub in affluent suberb Blackrock in South Dublin the usual doom merchants were out. It’ll never work! Its going to increase alcoholism etc, all sensationalist claims. And frankly reeked of fear from the established pubs. The whole landscape is about to change. If this encourages more pubs to look at what they’re offering even if its increasing range of craft etc this is a good thing. As a consumer I always prefer more choice and competition as it leads to better value for me.
I won’t lie. I’ve been in some pretty bad “spoons” over the years. Leeds train station stands out. But equally I’ve been in good ones too. Like airside in Gatwick Airport. They satisfied my need for good value food with good value drink.
I was walking up and noticed it and in reality the pictures on Facebook and twitter don’t do it justice. You can see there has been significant expenditure here. €2.63m in total was the figure Deputy Manager Dan gave me (also looks after their social media) when you walk in its very different to what you see in most pubs.
The bar area is right ahead. With no stools. This is purely somewhere to buy your drink / food and return to your table. This will probably take people a little getting used to. There is plenty of seating. Loads of comfy looking booths which I secured. Tall tables for two or four. Small tables etc. And a nice smoking area to the rear. The place was busy without ever feeling packed. The other thing that will take some getting used to is no music in the background, no soft jazz tinkling away, or obnoxious loud dub step when your trying to talk. All you can here is the sound of conversation. They do have TV for large events eg world cup etc.
I proceeded to get myself a Bengali Tiger. Pictured below. Exclusively available in Wetherspoons. Nowhere else. A hoptastic IPA with a big hit of citrus and pine in there. €3.50 a can. Glancing through the beer menu. Nothing more than a fiver on the beer front. There are several cask hand pumps and they were throwing out plenty of Hobgoblin, Ghostship and Broadside. All under 4 euro. Irish craft was represented by 8 Degrees, and Trouble Brewing.
A lot was made out of no Guinness being sold. When I was there there plenty of pints of Beamish and Murphy’s flying out.
I didnt eat there myself but people I was with did. The food was well presented. And exceptional value. €9.95 for a steak with all the trimmings and a soft drink or an extra 2 quid for an alcoholic drink from a choice of several. One thing that struck me that the place is designated driver friendly. The price of soft drinks was remarkable. €2 or less for just under 400ml of Pepsi. Coffees and teas were also well priced.
On the night it was also announced that the deal for the Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire is done and that will be the next Wetherspoons in Dublin.
In summary first impressions were very good. I do believe the offering is slightly tweaked for the Irish market and that is a good thing. Myself and Mrs Beer Snob will be out in the coming weeks to give the place a real test run.
Cead Mile Failte Wetherspoons.