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Bia Sasta

Keep Irish pub culture alive!

Wednesday, 12th August, 2020 5:32pm

I should be sitting in Browne’s this week (my local), sipping on a delicious G&T. Instead the opening of pubs has been delayed again. I was wondering why Sean (who runs Browne's) isn’t going for a restaurant license but the current setup (when open) might suit him better.

I have been bombarded with messages of people who have been very unhappy when going out ordering food.

I have been bombarded with messages of people who have been very unhappy when going out ordering food. I don’t review restaurants for this column so I can only advise you to voice your displeasure straight away (politely) and give the chef/staff a chance to reverse your experience.

While chatting to people (online and in person) about food offerings these days, I remembered a local pub owner asking me once how to get one of these plaques that other places have on their wall.

I replied ‘you serve good food’ – to be fair, I never had good food in that place and stopped ordering food apart from a toasted sandwich (and even that was messed up at some occasions).

In defence of my rather blunt answer, I was after a few drinks, so my BS-filter was non-existent.

Gastro-pubs are the winners in this re-opening phase as they attract loads of punters who combine food and drink. But what makes a pub a gastro pub?

On my tours around the country, eating my way through Irish pubs, I realised that a gastro pub is just a name for a restaurant that looks like a pub. For me, a gastro pub should be a pub where you happen to get a good ‘grub’ – but we have lost these little pubs where the landlady would have a homemade soup/stew on the stove and a few pies on offer. There were no ten page menus, no jus (fancy word for gravy) or polenta chips - just homecooked simple dishes with a take it or leave it approach.

The idea of serving food stems from pub owners trying to keep the punters in a bit longer to drink more.

There is nothing wrong for pubs to offer delicious and creative food with a dedicated chef but don’t lose the wonderful cosy pub atmosphere we are so famous for.

The Castle Hotel in Blarney is still closed as they are decorating the entire place – it’s a hive of activity at the moment. I can only hope that they are not touching the bar.

Johnny’s hasn’t changed since the first time I set foot in it many moons ago (apart from getting rid of the pool table). They serve food in the bar but it has never lost its pub status. Diners and punters are equally invited and feel comfortable.

I hope that Ian and Una are not trying to drag the bar into the same sphere as so many others have.

Tourists love Johnny’s with photos from past activities - the old bar that has seen so much over the decades, the great selection of whiskey, rum and gins.

It was also one of the first pubs to serve Franciscan Well beer and Longueville House cider.

I don’t have a drinking problem but I love the Irish pub culture and I can only hope that it will survive, not only for me but for rural communities and the millions of tourists who come to search for the old Ireland.

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