Barfly: Iveagh Bar
Parkgate Street, Dublin 8. Tel 01 6772324
The Irish hotel bar is an oft-maligned institution. Even in this era of blingtabulous cocktail menus and swanky interiors, many of us associate it with dowdy decor, crappy beers and stale cheese'n'ham sandwiches.
Stepping into the Iveagh Bar, at the revamped Ashling hotel near Heuston Station, it is immediately clear that someone is going to considerable effort to rid you of your preconceptions. From the sumptuous leather armchairs out front -- so wide you could probably squeeze a family of six onto a single couch -- to the restaurant-style seating at the back and the gleamingly minimalist bar itself, the Iveagh is at pains to project swish respectability.
For commuters looking to kill time before their train, the revamp is a godsend, being a drastic improvement over the sterile alternatives available at Heuston Station. But is it the kind of place you'd set up camp for a night? Probably not. The euro-chic ambience may represent a huge advance on the old Ashling watering hole, but, dare we suggest, it's a little to sterile to truly fall in love with? Still, the pints are lovely and the service is of restaurant-quality. In the end, all the Iveagh Bar really lacks is a killer personality. But isn't that the most important quality of all?