on November 25, 2012
Anyone who has read more than a couple of my articles here on IgoUgo will know that I have rather stringent views when it comes to Irish Pubs. To put things succinctly, I love Irish pubs, but I hate 'Irish'. "What is the difference?", I hear you cry. The difference is simple. Irish pubs genuinely Irish whereas 'Irish' pubs can boast merely the appearance of Irishness. For example, an Irish pub should serve Guinness and it should be poured correctly. It should be poured in two parts and left to settle - preferably with a Shamrock poured into the head. If a pub does this, it is on the way to being a genuine Irish pub. However, if it serves Guinness, but the bar staff pour it like lager, it falls short of the criteria and becomes an 'Irish' pub. The pulling of a good pint ties in with the next criteria: actually having some Irish staff there. A major caveat is that they must actually have been born in Ireland rather than be Americans with a hyphen.An 'Irish' pub on the other hand, has different characteristics. The Guinness and Irish staff are usually not present. Instead, they are replaced with a few less authentic traits. There is lots of green - often to be seen in the logos of Heineken and Carlsberg bottles - the name is often something stereotypically Irish. 'Os' at the start are very popular here. In short, 'Irish' pubs are trying to manufacture Gaelic flavour to attract customers. The James Joyce in Istanbul and Broadies in Tianjin are fantastic examples of this. Irish Pub - not the most original or subtle of monikers - could not fall more squarely into the 'Irish' category. It is run and owned by Bulgarians. There I no Guinness and the only slight nod towards the emerald isle is the name, which is illuminated in green. The attempt to look like an Irish pub is sad and ultimately rather frustrating because Irish Pub is actually a great bar. It is just not an Irish pub. The selection of beers is fantastic. It has four or five local beers that are available both on tap and in bottles. I had a pint of Shumensko, which was ok, but a little flat. I then had it from a bottle and it was fantastic. There were four or five local Bulgarian beers as well as Carlsberg, Heineken and Tuborg. Of course, there was no Guinness. There was also a fantastic selection of spirits. Sadly, there was nor Irish whisky, but there were scores of vodkas and plenty of local varieties of rakia.The food was also equally impressive. There no pies or pig's trotters, but it was good nonetheless. I had chicken cooked with cheese and mushrooms that was very good. This was accompanied by a dish of saut￩ed mushrooms and potatoes that were out of this world. Our group also shared a large Shopska Salad - the Bulgarian national salad that features tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and soft cheese - which was also fantastic. By the time we were finished, I was truly, truly stuffed. Then, came a rather pleasant surprise. When I got the bill, it came to the unbelievably low price of 28 Leva - about 13 Euros.Irish Pub was great. The beer was good, the food was good and the price was out of this world. However, it was not at all Irish!
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