A little over 2 years ago, I walked in to L Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter, Dublin for the first time since Colin and Séaneen took it on and turned it into a craft beer only pub and gastronomical wonderland.
Well, they have done it again with W.J. Kavanagh, this time on Dorset street which is a short walk from O'Connell street and like Stoneybatter, this is not the sort of area known for appreciating good beer.
|Packed with Galway and Kilkenny fans after the all Ireland final.|
When I was in the first time, the place was packed with Galway and Kilkenny hurling fans after both sides drew at the all Ireland final. I wonder if any of the Galway fans had a Galway Hooker? I know all of them down near us were scratching their heads at the lack of Heineken/Carlsberg and any other recognisable beers. It's a strange attitude Irish people have towards locally brewed beers, they are suspicious of it and will change their beer style completely when ordering just so they can say a brand they recognise. That does not do much good in a place like this, they eventually ran out of the usual suspects they could name and finally accepted what the barman was describing as closest to Carlsberg or Guinness and then I hope become pleasantly surprised. Certainly they passed their Irish craft lagers and stouts around for a sip before others started ordering.
|Just before opening time. Quite different to above.|
|5 hand pumps.|
When they installed 5 beer engines for cask ale, eyebrows were raised among us established beer geeks, especially Beoir members. A demand for 5 cask beers on Dorset street? I have been in twice. The first time was a few weeks ago with Steve Lamond and they had Thornbridge Jaipur and Kipling on cask. The last time was the weekend gone and this time 4 were available (pictured above). Hilden - Barneys Brew, Metalman - Pale Ale, Franciscan Well - Purgatory and 8 Degrees - Sunburnt Irish Red.
I have not been in when all 5 were available but just like Stoneybatter, the if you build it they will come mentality seems to be working because cask is going strong it seems. I wonder do they get enough of the older generation who remember drinking cask ale? Or is it all just the younger generation looking to bring back a lost tradition, one that has a very good reason for keeping it alive: the quality of the beer.
The inside is large and bright with a mix of stone walls and comfortable furniture on one side, like pictured above.
On the other, lots of tasteful wood panelling and even old railway sleepers used as support beams to keep the roof up I guess. I think I prefer the inside of Kavanagh's to Mulligan's. There is a small beer garden/porch out the back which includes a rear entrance. It leads to the former Temple Theatre.
As well as the impressive cask range, there is also a very decent range or kegged beers, all of it is craft and most of it is Irish. There is also a good range of bottled beer, large range of carefully selected wines, rums and gins as well as whiskeys from around the world. And if you are a teetotaler then you are not to be left out in the cold either with a variety of speciality teas from around the world.
Just like in Mulligan's, Séaneen has designed an impressive and fun menu with somewhat unlikely foods, at least unlikely for an old Dublin pub. I'm rather partial to the black pudding wontons.
The only problem, and one that might change as circumstances change is that they only start serving food at 5pm at the weekends so lunch is out of the question. Also at the weekend, they only open from 4pm which is a shame if you want an early afternoon pint. ** update at the moment they open from 12:30 on Sunday and they serve Sunday lunch (roast) so that's good news.
As it stands, I have only managed to get to W.J. Kavanagh twice since it was out of the way when I lived in Westmeath but now that I live in Dublin again, I will be back as often as I can.