Thursday, October 1, 2015

Irish House

We have a new entrant into the Bandra drinking scene. The Irish House.

Bandra, is a revolving door for restaurants and bars. High rents, intense competition, greedy owners, greedier open mouthed officials wanting bribes, flawed business plans, tiny unviable locations, all contribute to this. The evergreen Toto’s, going strong since 1992 finally has some competition, serious competition.

Barely 50 meters away from Toto’s at Pali Naka, in the place where Basilico used to be, has opened The Irish House. This is a chain of pubs, also serving food, that are owned by the Kapoor family, the guys who own Copper Chimney, Blue Sea Banquets and so on. Hard boiled seasoned restaurateurs. I also heard, though I may be wrong, Kishore Biyani has provided funding for this chain of pubs. So, the bottom line is, deep pockets and tremendous experience.

Irish House has several outlets. Pune, Kolkata have them. Mumbai has some 6 outlets, 4 in malls and two standalone – Kala Ghoda and Pali Naka Bandra. We were looking forward to its opening, which it finally did on 6th September. Our first visit was on the 7th, and after that, in the following 3 weeks we have been there some 5 times. Obviously we like it.

The place is divided into two sections, the small air-conditioned bar section with the DJ console and a substantially larger covered al fresco section. What is there to like? Well for starters they have Happy Hours from 5 pm to 8 pm every day. You get one for one free. Yes sir one for one free, across the board on all alcohol, no restrictions. I understand that is the policy at all Irish Houses. Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. We walk in at our usual 7.15 pm, HRH The Queen of Kutch orders a Talker and gets two drinks. All for Rs 700/-. I order my usual Kingfisher Draft and I get 2 glasses for Rs 213/-. Then at about 7.50 pm we order a round more. Once again we get two drinks each. This is a great deal. We get to drink double the quantity at half the cost. We love it.

Talisker. 1 for 1 free 

The place being brand new has good equipment, good quality coolers, efficient draft beer dispensers, an under counter glass washer, good air conditioning and a nice sound system with retro Rock playing – no Bollywood. The staff is all young and friendly. There is a 10% service charge, gratuity as the Yanks would say, so no Jhanjhat of tipping.  

We have not eaten very much there, just the bog standard bought out McCain Potato Wedges on occasion. A couple of times when we met some friends there Nachos and Tacos were ordered. A large portion of this is bought out, so one cannot really gauge is the kitchen can cook. What we ate was absolutely fine. But, as far as we are concerned, this is a bar, not a restaurant, so we would not be eating there. There is a huge selection of alcohol ranging from both imported draft, Indian draft including the new craft beers, to imported beer in bottles, all manner of Spirits and a good selection of Whiskeys.

What are the glitches? First, without a doubt, the music is much too loud. I understand if at 10 pm with the place heaving and a happy drunk crowd, the DJ turns up the volume. But alas, here the music is on loud even at 7.15 pm. This is mildly upsetting as conversation becomes a little difficult.

The other problem is the crowd. Often you find underage binge drinkers – remember the drinking age in Mumbai is 25 – causing a ruckus with their boisterous celebrations. The other problem is that unlike Toto’s or Mumbai Clubs, this is not a place frequented by regulars. Let me explain. If the family, or group has to go out one a week, or month then they will come to The Irish House. So there is a transient crowd all drinking exotic drinks. All types of lurid coloured cocktails – blue with Curacao. Green with Kiwi and red with cranberry are being served. Jagermiester Bombs, Tequila Shots, Vodka being chased with Red Bull, Sangria with horrid bits of chopped Apple and so on. You get the picture? Lots of ladies having their one drink of the week, alcohol heavily disguised with colour and sugar. If you are in a bar and you see coloured drinks and shots going out you know it’s a party place, not for regulars. Nothing wrong with that. However the atmosphere in a party place is different to a place with regulars. Regulars give a place a sense of calm which is why we are regulars at Totos and the hallowed Bombay Gymkhana bar.

Having said all this, we are extremely pleased with The Irish House opening in the neighbourhood. Please do visit it. Make it your regular watering hole. We need more happy, clean and modern pubs in our neck of the wood. Who knows we may even have a drink together. I will buy the first round.

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