The Three Tun Tavern – First Wetherspoons pub in RoI – First impressions

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.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Liam McShera says:

    You're right of course there are plenty of good Wetherspoons'.

    I spoke to one of the top buyers for 'spoons UK a while back (friend of a friend of the other half's) and he debunked the old theory – that they sell so much beer that they can buy discounted, less-fresh beer and sell it before it goes off. The impression I got is that they simply use their mighty buying power to drive down prices. Whether that can happen in Ireland remains to be seen.

    I like how the chain got it's name.

  2. Wayne says:

    Like any good chain there will be good and bad.

    I think they are happy to operate off a lower margin, control input costs to the nth degree, and rely on volume. They are very different to the quintessential Irish pub in that they are as focused on food as much as the booze, if not more.

    They'd drive a hard enough bargain on the cost of beer coming in, hard enough to tell Guinness, thanks but no thanks.

    We'll bring you out next time you're over!

  3. Frank says:

    Hi. It will be interesting to see what you think of it with the Misses. I was really excited about the place. I had loved the look of it on the outside, the barrells and the style of pub. And Hobgobblin on draft and cask ale 10 minutes from my house. But Jayzus when I went in I thought no way. No way. we have to have our own style of bar in Ireland and this is just England. I dont want to live in England. It reminded me of a cheap hotel down the country for Sunday lunch. I was on me tod and I couldn't sit at the bar. I repeat I was on me tod and couldn't sit at the bar. There will be no getting used to that. This is not England. This is Eire. I am a Celt. Despite the lovely decor on the outside it is mushy pea and tatty pie on the inside. Maybe I am a food and beer snob but I took my hungry self down to the purty kitchen sat up at the bar. Had a pint of sabotage and some lovely wings and an amazing burger. Maybe I over paid but no way. It was gravy street and I won't be going back. Magpie or Purty if you are this side of the city. Make sure Mrs Beer Snob gives a view. Love the blog and twitter feed by the way ;(

  4. Liam McShera says:

    Agree with Frank in that if someone else is selling hot food within walking distance go there instead. It is microwave fare wherever possible, at least in the England and wider UK ones.

    As Wayne says, more choice, good for some beer drinkers. He's also right about Leeds Train Stn Wetherspoons – it's soul destroying and open 6am-Midnight O_O

    It will be interesting to see if the age old cultural norms will bar their progress in Eire (intended). Or will Frank & friends chase them with flaming barstools back to Dun Laoghaire, and onto the ship they sailed in on? 🙂

    Love the blog still Wayne & just twigged that the Atom feed down the bottom works with Feedly. I'll never miss a post again now

  5. Wayne says:

    Thanks for the comments and kind words Frank and Liam.

    I think there is a fundamental difference as you've highlighted Frank, they want people to come in, have a few drinks, bit of food, and clear off. I don't think they want people to be sat there all evening supping. Lets face it, that is hard when there is no ambient music only the sound of chatter. If I want that there are plenty of places, like the ones mentioned, i'd also chuck in the Dark Horse.

    Spoons rely on the turnover of people on the tables, selling food, and drink. You'll see a lot of groups maybe going their later or early for value grub and then moving on somewhere more lively.

    You'll defo hear Mrs Beer Snob's thoughts on it when we get out there, I will however be back to drink more Sixpoint, and the quality of their cask stuff is light years ahead of most Dublin pubs. The beers we can take our own views on, but, these guys know how to manage cask. They didn't put on the trouble on tuesday as they weren't settled enough. Too many times you see Dublin pubs just lash it on.

    I'll try to keep the twitter feed and blog entertaining enough for you Frank!

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