Did Dubai really need a fifth branch of McGettigan’s? Judging by the crowds it’s already pulling, the answer is, perhaps unexpectedly, yes.
While in name it joins the ranks of the Irish pub’s JLT, DWTC, Madinat and Dubai International Airport outlets, McGettigan’s JBR, in the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, is not operated by the McGettigan’s Pubs group, but rather the hotel itself.
Set in the space that formerly housed Hilton’s tiny Studio One sports bar, it’s a great use of a fairly intimate space.
It’s also, notably, non-smoking – a first among sports bars in the neighbourhood, and something that hasn’t stopped punters pouring in to watch the match on its numerous large, well-positioned screens. Whether as a result of its smoking regulations or position inside a popular beach hotel in a touristy part of town, the bar also has a more family-friendly feel (at least earlier on from its 4pm opening time).
Aesthetically, it’s true to the originals – backlit emerald green forest scenes, long, comfy banquettes, wooden flooring and decorative bookcases. Staff, too, are quick, and much of the menu will be familiar to McGettigan’s regulars (Irish stew, Buffalo chicken wraps), while a bar bites menu, served late, offers up stodgy comfort food stalwarts, including a chip butty for a reasonable Dhs35.
In JBR’s ever-more competitive bar scene, the Irish chain seems to already have won regulars, and brought a different USP to an area with a growing concentration of casual watering holes.
It’s not our favourite among the five, but for a burger and a cold drink straight off the beach, we know where we’re heading.
The bottom line Not quite McGettigan’s, but does the job.