Pub uncovered: Bagots Hutton
Our anonymous barfly trawls the country looking for the perfect pub, so you don't have to.
It probably says a lot about our opinion of ourselves that one the highest felicitations an Irish person can pay a particularly impressive bar or restaurant is to observe that it doesn't feel like it's actually in Ireland. That's certainly one of the responses you may have to Bagots Hutton, a New York-ish (actually Brooklyn-ish) basement space on Dublin's South William Street (for the uninitiated, South William Street is becoming the anti-Temple Bar, ie the place where actual Irish people hang out).
Somewhere between wine-bar, boozer and restaurant, Bagots Hutton flits unassumingly between its multitude of identities: you may, if you wish, savour the antipasta, explore the wine menu or just snuggle up to a beer.
We know what you are thinking because we thought it too: hipster flytrap. Actually, the steampunk brigade – so ubiquitous in urban spots across the rest of the country – are not especially in evidence. Yes, you will spy men in drainpipe jeans with facial hair that is trying slightly too hard (on a side note: is there such a thing as a female hipster and, if so, how do they compensate for lack of beard?). But, really, Bagots Hutton does not attract a particular 'type' – it's an equal opportunities fashionable hangout, where you are as likely to find yourself seated beside a smart couple enjoying a post-work drink as a group of bequiffed dudes who look as if they are on day release from Arctic Monkeys. Many first timers are struck by the cosy dimensions (seating capacity is 65): it truly does come across like a fashionable friend's well-appointed living room, with lush leather couches and exposed brick-work (in fact you may schlep away feeling vaguely bitter that your own abode is a characterless hovel by comparison).
Snaked around the central chamber are tunnel-like corridors which, even with evocative lighting and edgy sounds piped in, have a vague Da Vinci Code quality. We mean it as a compliment when we say we half expected a mad albino monk to materialise, potentially trying to biff us over the head with a copy of the New Testament.
At weekends Bagots Hutton is extra rocking, thanks to a late bar and a DJ supplying punters with fashionable electronica: standing cheek by jowl with the random selection of beautiful types, you may briefly feel like the coolest person in the universe. It's a sense that dissipates as soon as you exit into the cold Dublin night – nonetheless, the feeling is wonderful for as long as it lasts.
You could be in Williamsburg, Brooklyn – as was precisely the intention.
A model of cleanliness and efficiency.
Exceedingly personable – this is the sort of place where you half expect to be looked down upon by the achingly well turned out staff, but there's not a bit of it.
Craft beers and a vast wine menu.
Bagots Hutton, 28 South William Street, Dublin 2. (01) 534 3956
First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent