It's been quite a while since I went to a proper Irish pub/tavern.
Sure, there are a couple worthy of merit in Kenya. When I say a couple, literally two come to mind: The Curragh Irish Pub and Bistro, over at Ngong Racecourse, and Murphy's in Mombasa.
I'm sure a few people reading this will be thinking, but what about The Tav, over at The Mirage? I don't know how it is now, since I haven't been to it this year, but the last time I visited, I was distinctly underwhelmed. I've been there about three times, and I wasn't sure what exactly was Irish about it.
You can't just add green accents to a bar and decide that that's what makes it Irish, can you? The first visit was during Restaurant Week, which, in all fairness, no one (or barely anyone) does well at. Though I do argue that if you know you can't deliver what you promise, then don't do it at all...but that's a well flogged horse for another day.
The second time was at one of those game nights that all bars and clubs and eateries seem to be doing suddenly, in a bid to garner a little bit of business. That's all well and good, but again I reiterate – if you can't deliver what you promise, then don't do it at all.
The theme of the night was a Game Of Thrones Quiz Night, so everyone and their mother was crammed into a space that was not supposed to hold more than 1000 people. There was no space for sitting down, much less competing, much less hearing the questions from the badly placed soft spoken MC. With any luck they've figured out how to actually run a quiz night with a working microphone.
The third visit doesn't bear mentioning, but you get the picture – there was not much to impress.
The Curragh, on the other hand, feels exactly like an Irish pub should, with rude signs covering walls and little maps, Irish sayings and general bar cheer spread at convenient corners. Last I checked, they do have theme nights, including one where you can sing for your dinner, if the audience appreciates your skills well enough.
The food attempts to be a tasty blend of Irish and traditional Kenyan nyama choma fare – think slow cooked meats and barbecue – and every so often, they have a Sunday fun day on the grounds outside the entrance.
THE BEST OF THEM
Just talking about the Curragh makes me want to pay a visit to them as well – it's been a while, and the scenery is beautiful. Plus, the slogan for the pub is 'craic, caint, ceoil' which means fun, music and a good chat. Feels pretty Irish to me.
What brought about this nostalgia for Irish pubs was visiting a not-so-little joint called Murphy's at Amsterdam's main airport, Schiphol.
This Murphy's reminded me of the one in Mombasa, a less-regarded pub that is in the same compound as the ever popular Bob's, but significantly less patronised – surprising, because it's clean, spacious, and has wide TV screens for sports lovers, which is what made me go there because I couldn't seem to find anywhere else that was showing Formula 1 on a steamy Mombasa Sunday.
The one in Amsterdam is a touch different. Popular because it has a hidden smoking area, and busy because it serves an all-day breakfast.
Murphy's has a distinct feel of a transit restaurant that's trying to offer a bit of a haven from the busy airport – starting from the winding hallway that you walk down to get to the actual restaurant, to their meal offers that have a beer on each one.
I had the full breakfast—breakfast is my favourite meal—and a hot chocolate, which comes served with a miniature stroopwafel – a Dutch delicacy made of thin layers of baked dough with caramel spliced in between. They're delicious, and perfect if you have a sweet tooth.
This Murphy's is Irish to the bone, down to the waiters' joviality and the historical pictures on the walls.
My favourite part, though? The plush cushioned walls that share space with tomes that line a third of the establishment. It felt like a library – with beer!
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