Friday, January 13, 2006

"Irish" Pubs in Arlington

Here in Arlington we have made a couple attempts at the neighborhood pub. Ireland's Four Courts was a near-perfect neighborhood spot until it diluted its atmosphere by expanding into the neighboring storefront to add a second bar and more dining tables; the live music and main bar remain in the original space, making you feel like uninvited, out-of-town company if you should get seated in the annex, where the bar is dead quiet and the music piped in. We don't recall ever having seen an Irish waitress in the place, but the fish and chips are reliably good and they've always got Guinness, so we'd rate the place an adequate pub.

Kitty O'Sheas is a little dive run by a handful of guys who've been in Arlington since god-knows-when and are obviously very unhappy that anyone else lives in the neighborhood. We went in one day when they were advertising a crabcake special and the barkeep barked, "Can I he'p ewe boy?" in the meanest redneck twang that told us right away we were welcome to come in and slap down $20 for the crabcake and a Bud Light but he'd pull his shotgun on us if we asked for anything more in the way of creature comforts. We could forgive a shotgun-wielding bartender if at least there had been Guinness. Or anything other than Bud Light, for that matter.

Now we understand that Arlington is about to get a Ri-Ra, a fancied-up Irish looking pub chain, in the old Virginia Hardware store that used to be run by the guys who own the wonderful Mexicali Blues on the same block. We can't seem to find out if this Ri-Ra is linked to the Boston pub and club alternately called Ri-Ra and An Tua Nua, but then, any connection to that place isn't exactly something most people would own up to. So we'll wait and see how the place measures up.

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