Fitzgeralds was the place that I could walk into anytime and be guaranteed to know at least one other person at the bar, as well as the staff. Comfortable. Friendly. Inviting. I could have a pint on my own and read the paper or end up having the craic with some random people and end up heading to the Czech Inn for some ridiculous dancing. And let's not forget the infamous Friday night sessions. Rare was the Friday that I didn't scarper from my office next door with a fierce thirst on me and eager to while away the evening with a few 'civilised drinks'. Until, lo and behold, a mere few hours later I'm weaving drunkenly on my chair with whoever I managed to drag from the office with me waiting for Totally Wired to start. Inevitably, despite many protestations that we would leave after the next pint, all of a sudden, we'd realise that one staff member was mopping around us while the other was vaguely encouraging us to drink up and go but not really forcing us out the door. Good times.
Obviously, when I got to Canada, one of the first things that I was keen to accomplish (apart from the very obvious finding employment and accommodation) was finding my replacement bar. I am quite easily pleased and like to think that my expectations are not too high but Fitzgeralds had set the bar very high. Below are some of the bars I tested out and my verdict on each of them....
- Elephant & Castle - no, they did not have chicken wings (well they probably did but I was unwilling to order them and shatter the illusion). I did try the curry chips and they were pretty good. The beer was an alright price (so long as you stuck to the local brews) and the staff were friendly enough. They went to great lengths to try to find the Irish Euro 2012 Qualifier match for me on TV. I haven't been back since but would still give it 3/5.
- Fynn's of Temple Bar - being a huge fan of the Temple Bar Bar, I was hoping for something vaguely similar but I really didn't find it here. The staff seemed friendly enough but I didn't feel enough of a pull to visit there more than 3 times in the last 10 weeks. Their food is pretty good though. 3/5
- Pogue Mahone - now this one, I had to go into just to see what the bleeding story was. After having a chat with the bartender, he confirmed that the name was an attempt at wittiness. Good attempt There was no atmosphere there, the staff were surly enough to a point (although I did manage to get one of them to have a bit of banter with me eventually). Not likely to go back 1/5
- McVeighs - everyone said to me, if you want a taste of home, get yourself to Mc Veighs. I decided to pop along on a Sunday afternoon to have a nose. It was dark, there weren't many people there, there were a few others on their own and the bartender was having the banter with a couple of lads at the end of the bar. Somehow though, it just didn't work for me. After a while, there was a group at the end of the bar, all Irish, gossiping about the night before in some other pub when this person had done this that and the other, and he'd kissed her and she'd punched him. And I realised that it seemed like just another small town in Ireland. And I didn't actually want to be a part of that. 3/5
- The Bier Markt - here's one I wasn't expecting to like, it seemed a little bit pretentious at first glance but they had a lot of international beers on tap so we figured we'd give it a go. Not only do they have a lot of different beers but they will allow you to have little tasters of different ones to help you make up your mind about which one you want. The first night we were there, I tried a few different ones, as did my friend Viv. The following week when we went in, the same bartenders were there and they remembered everything we had tasted and which ones we liked and didn't like. Either we were very memorable or they were very good at their jobs! Been there a few times now and the staff are always lovely, the music sounds like a playlist from my own MP3 Player and their Poutine is delish. 4/5
- The Foggy Dew - again, based on the name, I was hoping for something even vaguely similar to the dear old Dublin Foggy Dew. My first day there, I made friends with some locals and the bartender. This looked promising. Been back a few times since and even when I brought in the guys visiting from Ireland, the lovely Jeremy didn't even charge them for their tea and soft drinks which I thought was pretty decent. My only criticism is that their chips are not crispy enough. Otherwise though 5/5
- And then we come to the closest thing I've found so far. The dear old Departure Lounge at Global Village. I know the staff, I'm getting to know the regulars, I get good deals on drinks. Couple of slight bonuses over Fitzgeralds - crazy drinks specials every night and karaoke on Fridays. However, Fitzgeralds still wins over slightly....although, ask me again in about 8 months time. 5/5
Moral of the Story - I will continue my search for a substitute bar and will ensure to keep you all updated. Don't worry too much Lennie; you're a hard one to replace.