Bar Review: The Irish House
Lager lovers and ale aficionados bemoaning the loss of the Sports Bar in Phoenix Mills have finally got an alternative in the shopping complex. The Irish House, a two-week-old pub located next to California Pizza Kitchen, has the same easy vibe and friendly feel that made Sports Bar such a popular haunt until it shuttered in July last year.
That said, The Irish House, which is owned by the same people who run the Copper Chimney chain of North Indian restaurants, is about as Irish as quizmaster Derek O’ Brien. In the Mumbai pubscape, it fits somewhere between the slightly dive-y Irish Pub in Khar and the five-star sedateness of Dublin at the ITC Grand Central in Lower Parel. The décor is dominantly wood, as it should be, and refreshingly, there isn’t as much as green as we expected. The T-shirts of the waitstaff—which say such cheeky things as “Free beer tomorrow”—are blue. Instead, the Irish elements at The Irish House are in the form of a picture of U2, a caricature of Pierce Brosnan and numerous posters with quotes like “When Irish eyes are smiling, they are usually up to something”.
But there’s no Guinness on the menu, only Murphy’s Irish Stout, and not on tap but in a can, over-priced at Rs750 (the MRP is Rs350). Booze-wise, the thematic country is represented by just Murphy’s, Jameson whiskey and Bailey’s, which you can drink all together in the off-the-menu Irish Carbon shot (though it will set you back a neat Rs1,400). The pub grub includes lamb pie and Irish sergeant potato skins (flavoursome coin-sized appetisers stuffed with corn and Gouda) as well as nachos and “drunken fettucine”, as if to suggest anything becomes Irish if you add enough alcohol to it. (As one of the signs says: “Irish today, hungover tomorrow.”)
In another effort to Irish-ise the offerings, beer pitchers are served in keg-shaped containers, though the 3-litre option (Rs1,000 for Kingfisher) is served in a test-tube, just like at Sports Bar. The menu says you can get both Stella and Hoegaarden on draught but neither was available when we visited. No one seemed to mind because they were happy sipping on their Kingfishers, dancing in their seats to the DJ’s mix of hits by Flo Rida and Edward Maya, or being fed Bacardi shots by one of the waiters.
This was probably because even though the relatively large space was almost filled to capacity—there’s standing room for about 200 people apart from the variously sized tables—the service was quick and the drinks, like our mojito for instance, well mixed. The programming of karaoke nights on Wednesdays, plus the large TV screen, makes us conjecture that the owners (rightfully) decided to fill in the gap created in Phoenix Mill’s drinking options after the closure of Sports Bar. Tryst is for college kids, Canvas for corporate slaves, TGIF and Manchester United Café too cheesy for their own good. The Irish House is for those who don’t take drinking out too seriously. What it lacks in authenticity, it makes up for in increasingly-rare-to-find casual charm.
This review was conducted anonymously.