Barfly: The Mercantile
28 Dame Street, D2.
The Dundrum Town Centre of central Dublin boozers, The Mercantile is a sprawling edifice, incorporating hotel, live-music venue and the sort of vast bar areas where people used to conglomerate back in the days when it was traditional to spend your evening in the pub, rather than tanking up on cheapo booze at home first.
Under new management since last year, the goal, clearly, is to shed the stodgy image it acquired through the aughts, when it was THE place if you were a nine-to-fiver in a cheap suit or a tourist who couldn't be bothered crossing Dame Street to Temple Bar.
Certainly, they've tried to grunge up the ambience a tad: nowadays fashionable local bands such as Squarehead hold CD launches here and at weekends they've hired hipster DJs to spin Vampire Weekend and The Vaccines.
If there's a problem it's that the very size of The Mercantile and the ghost of its booze-barn years make it difficult to fall in love with.
There has rightly been a backlash against Celtic Tiger drinking warrens, and the scale of the place runs against the current vogue for bars that are in your face and little rough around the edges.
Its a strange complaint to accuse a pub of being too presentable for its own good, but there you go. When small is the new black does huge have a chance?
IN THE GLASS: Pint of stout €4.60, pint of lager €4.85
AT THE BAR: Man on laptop, chap reading the paper
ON THE STEREO: Sky News on silent, lulling background music
AND? Check out mercantilehotel.ie
Day & Night