The Pub's the Thing
St. Patrick supposedly drove the snakes from Ireland many centuries ago. Naturally, Americans celebrate his feat by descending on bars and destroying brain cells en masse.
It all makes sense, somehow.
To do it up right, however, many celebrants spend part of the holiday in a pub. Of course, Dallas-area residents flock to pubs every day, attracted by decidedly un-Dallas features such as intimate charm and a lowbrow, communal atmosphere. "Pubs are more relaxed," explains Vincey, a bartender at The Dubliner on Greenville Avenue. "You can come in here and have a lawyer sitting beside a bricker. Social standing doesn't matter."
There's something about a pub that just brings people together. "I think it's the characters," says Ian Green, bartender at The Londoner in Addison. "If you don't have characters, you don't have a pub." Green describes typical British pub residents in terms charming and familiar. "It might be an old man talking to himself at the corner of the bar, or a sod who's always complaining," he says, defining pub characters in England. "It's the staff that makes a pub," adds Germaine Kennedy, manager of O'Dowd's on McKinney Avenue. "You're more formal in a restaurant," she points out. "In a pub, servers are here to have fun, bartenders are here to have fun, customers--to have fun." O'Dowd's and The Dubliner are two of a smattering of Irish-style establishments in the Dallas area. The others include the Tipperary Inn, The Blarney Stone, and Celtic Quill. British pubs amount to The Londoner--as British as mad cows and bad teeth--and The British Rose. The Old Monk styles itself a European pub.
Kennedy claims that no Irish-built pub in America fails financially. And British establishments fare pretty well, too. Barry Tate, owner of The Londoner, had to find a larger building for his pub after crowds overwhelmed his previous location. "I think Americans like British pub culture," says Green, "the unpretentious ones, anyway."
Americans typically don't distinguish between British and Irish pubs, even though the sainted snake charmer was most decidedly Irish. So the Burning Question must ask: What's the difference between British pubs and Irish pubs?
Well, there's no difference, really. Breweries tend to own British pubs while Irish families pass down ownership from generation to generation. And the nationalities differ--of course. Otherwise, they both serve the same stuff and play the same role in their communities. Sorry.
In Dallas, however, the differences may be a bit more profound, at least according to The Londoner's Tate. "The Irish pubs in Dallas are full of Americans who think they're Irish," he says.
Roughly 200 million Americans claim Irish ancestry, it seems. No American ever claims British heritage.
Apparently Irish pubs attract a randier crowd.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.