There’s this band that I’m enamored with. An Irish rock band called The Fooks. They sing all the tunes that my friends and I sing when we’re sitting around the fire at night, drunk. They sound better than we do, which is a bonus. And they’re all handsome, nice lads. For musicians. Ha!
Anyway, I’ve been to a gaggle of Irish pubs in the San Diego recently – all so that I could see this band perform. Somewhere between one glass of gin and the next, my friends and I decided I needed (or maybe it was just me and I was imagining that I was drinking with someone else…it’s possible) to write-up a review of the Irish pubs we’ve been to. Reviews should have rating systems, so that like things can be compared. For each category of the review, there is a three-point scale. 0 = suck, 1 = average, 2 = excellent. Yes, I could use the Likert scale and use 5 points but I’m lazy and I was drinking – so my judgement was not that precise.
The categories are Atmosphere, Service, Music, Guinness, Irish Coffee, and Bathroom.
For this first review, the pubs are The Blarney Stone on 5th in the Gaslight District, The Field in the Gaslight District, Hennessey’s in the Gaslight District, and O’Sullivan’s in Carlsbad CA.
The Blarney Stone.
Guinness: Good pour. Good temperature. 2
Irish Coffee. Brown sugar in the coffee, cinnamon on top. Half-n-half instead of heavy cream. 2
Music. At the time we were there, the stereo was on. It was playing pop, country, and rap. Our bartender said they have live duos/singles who play cover tunes. No Irish music, live or otherwise. 0. [You may wonder, if the whole point of being in the bar was to see The Fooks, why they weren’t playing there. Well, there are two Blarney Stone Irish pubs in SD. The Fooks play at the other one. We had to satisfy our curiosity about this one.]
Atmosphere. Wooden panels, light, nice to sit and talk. Wasn’t crowded when we were in there. Reminded me of a pub we hit in Bisbee AZ. Locals, friendly. Generic Irish decor. 1
Restroom. Not so clean. 1
Service. Our bartender was named Scott. Nice, friendly, interested in what we were doing. 2
Notes: a good local hangout.
Total score: 8 out of 12
Guinness. Good pour. Good temperature. 2
Irish Coffee. Used half-n-half. 1
Music. When we were there, Thin Lizzy was on the stereo. Advertisement for The Fooks on the TV. They have other live Irish music. 2
Atmosphere. Darker than Blarney Stone, but more authentic decor. There is a strange collection of things in a loft above the tables that reminds me of my grandmother’s barn. Louder. Busy. 2
Restroom. Could be cleaner. 1
Service. A real Irish (or at least an Irish accent) server. Actual service was average.1
Notes: A good bar to go to, but not one to hangout in.
Total score: 9 out of 12
Guinness. Better pour the second time.1
Irish Coffee. No one got one (I guess you can only do so many in a day). But someone did get a Black and Tan and said the pour was good. The margarita I had tasted like it had pickle juice in it. Odd. 1
Music. Live music, but not Irish. The band that was playing that night was Endoxi, who described themselves as electrified Tommy Dorsey (which sounded fun. In practice, they were keyboards, saxophone, guitar, and drum. Kind of pop-ish, but enthusiastic. I’d see them again. They were having sound issues that night.) 1
Atmosphere. Loud with a veneer of Irish. Corporate, upscale, well-lit, seeming open space but tables packed in. 0
Restroom. Clean 2
Service. Slow, but it was busy. 1
Notes: A chain. One of our group reported that the one in Las Vegas was much better.
Total score: 6 out of 12
Guinness. Good pour. Slightly too cold at first, but settled. 2
Irish Coffee. Half-n-half, not tasty coffee. 0
Music. When we first arrived, they were playing acoustic Irish music. Later, The Fooks played. Small stage but a built-in sound system was nice for them. Crowd was kind of right in their faces. Regardless of their take on things, I thought it was a good venue. They had a good crowd.2
Atmosphere. Irish decor, but no strange things hiding out in the rafters. Outside patio with firepit.2
Service. The hostess that sat us at our dinner table was a zombie. The waitress was nice and reserved a table closer to the stage for us. The stage area waiter was attentive.1
Notes: Local hangout or a good dinner place (they have a separate dining room).
Total Score: 9 out of 12
Conclusion. If I was just going drinking, I’d go to the Blarney Stone and hang out. If I was going to have an Irish experience, I’d select either The Field or O’Sullivan’s. Hennessey’s just wasn’t what we were looking for. If I was going to see The Fooks, well…where are they next?