We’re not sure if new venue can live up to the JLT original 2 Reviews
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‘Does Dubai really need another Irish pub?’ These were the words our (non-Irish) companion uttered when we revealed the evening’s destination. Explaining that it wasn’t a completely new Irish pub, but simply another branch of an existing Irish pub, produced more cursory comments.
But his comments are worth considering. For a spot of grit and a timeless taste of Dubai in the not-too-distant past you already have Dubliners, Fibber Magee’s and, of course, The Irish Village. But the balance has been upset a little in recent years by the new kid in town. Having recently celebrated its first birthday, McGettigan’s pub has capitalised on the expat shift south with a prime location in New Dubai – and the fact that there are no other licensed hotels in JLT.
Now Mr McGettigan is eyeing the Downtown crowd with a second McGettigan’s pub in the World Trade Centre. There’s even a third venue opening soon – on The Irish Village’s doorstep at Dubai Airport Terminal One (although we hear the 16-year-old IV is up for the fight, with talk of a Jumeirah venue soon).
When we visited the new venue, two weeks after opening, it still felt a bit like a construction site: nasty wood panels and poles marked the way in, a stepladder stood in the middle of the floor and a faint whiff of paint drifted through the room. But it was already clear to see that this new venue has more than a passing resemblance to the JLT bar we’ve come to know and love.
Taking up a large, airy space on the ground floor of a corner block, the room feels welcoming but distinctly sterile. The illuminated pastoral views on the walls, and woody red overheard panels, feel somewhat tacky in such a bright space. Yet we can’t fault the design. Branching off from the central curved bar are several different zones for different types: drinkers can nestle on bar stools or booths, arm chairs or dining tables. Meanwhile the staff were undeniably jovial, and the selection of pop-rock pumped through the speakers was the right side of both annoying and eclectic.
While there are plans to open ‘fine-dining’ restaurant The D on two upper floors (we’ve heard early next year), at present there’s no disguising the fact this venue offers nothing new. The JLT venue’s greatest asset is its wide and welcoming garden, but there’s no outdoor area at all here. And after asking the venue, there are no plans to bring the live music and comedy that have made the JLT spot more than just a pub to this venue in the near future (although the smaller size surely lessens the scope).
Yet having said all this, even a fortnight in, by early evening on a Friday the WTC venue was already humming along pleasantly with good-natured drinkers. So perhaps our mate was wrong – it seems Dubai needs another Irish pub after all. And if it needs it anywhere, it’s in Downtown, where there’s a distinct dearth of traditional drinkeries. We’re pretty sure the pub’s easy street access (not through a hotel) and familiar brand will see this place poaching plenty of customers from elsewhere pretty soon.By Rob Garratt
Time Out Dubai,
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