Thursday, December 08, 2005

Review: Irish Pubs in Berlin

A week of Champion's League football and a big game for my team on Saturday morning was the inspiration for this post, a look at that necessary-evil for footie fans in Berlin, the Irish pub...

To the self-respecting expat or tourist, darkening the door of an Irish pub in Berlin is the drinkers equivalent of eating at McDonalds. But despite that they serve a dual-purpose (to this writer at least) that can't be football, and, to a lesser extent, roast dinners. Virtually all can deal with the first without too much fuss, using a Sky connection registered at an address back across the channel. I have only found one that does a good job of the second (but I would love to hear if there are other places as well). Oh, and of course, then there's the pints of Guinness...

The bad points about Irish pubs apply to pretty much all of them, namely that the beer is over-priced - especially the local brews. I don't really mind paying close to four euros for a pint of Guinness, if that's what is needed, but only a few cents cheaper for a Schultheiss? Give me a break. Also, the expat atmosphere can sometimes, and only sometimes, remind you of why you left in the first place...especially when a stag party drops by for a full-day session.

(And whilst we're on the topic, can anyone understand why a group of mates, to celebrate their pals impending descent into married life, come all the way to Germany only to sit for ten hours in an Irish pub? That makes no sense at all, unless of course there's a game on...)

Although there are any number of Irish pubs in Berlin, I'm going to deal with the big three - although I will say that there is a tiny one on Husemannstrasse in Prenzlauer Berg that is run by a German and has no Sky TV, but serves a great pint and is cosy too.

The Best: The Old Emerald Isle
(Erkelenzdamm 49, Berlin-Kreuzberg - U8 and U1 Kotbusser Tor - Website)

The Old Emerald Isle is down in Kreuzberg, and is easily the best Irish pub in Berlin. No, scratch that, it is one of the best pubs in Berlin full stop, although if you don't like Premier League football then it might be best avoided at the weekends from September to May. Like all Irish pubs it is pricey, but the difference here is that the quality of what you receive makes you feel it was completely worth it. Good choice of beers, excellent food (including the aforementioned Sunday Roast = choice of meat, spuds, veggies, yorkshire pudding, gravy) and plenty of televisions so even if you arrive late for kick-off you can find a good spot to see at least one screen. Also, the guests seem mixed so the atmosphere is less testosterone fuelled, and the staff are super friendly. It also looks like a pub should, without being too naff. I like this place.

Central: The Oscar Wilde
(Friedrichstrasse 112a, Berlin-Mitte - U6 Oranienburger Tor - Website)

The advantage of the Oscar Wilde, especially for visitors that are staying in Mitte, is its location on Friedrichstrasse. There is also not much to complain about on the drinks front (except those prices again), although the food is not worth it at all. The football is shown on a huge screen in the back bar, which means non-footy lovers can enjoy their pint in peace. Having said that, I am only ever there for the football, and herein lies the is always super busy, and unlike the Emerald Isle, attracts the stag parties. The back room is also super smokey. And even if you get there in time, if it is a popular game, someone will sit in front of you. In the end though it is a good enough default option, and the Oscar Wilde also has Live Music on weekends and a Quiz on Monday nights.

Not Worth the Trek: Irish Pub in the Europa Center
(Tauentzienstr 10, Berlin-Charlottenburg - S-Bahn Zoologischer Garten - Website

Of course, 'not worth the trek' depends on where you were trekking from, but I would say even if it's from the A&O at Zoo Station you're better off heading somewhere else. This place, in the Europa Center (which should tell you something) reminds me of all those Irish pubs in cities all over the world. Soulless, huge, and expensive. I read somewhere that there is a factory just outside Dublin that makes all the 'authentic' Irish decorative features for places like these, and it wouldn't surprise me if these guys were customers. It might have the longest bar in Berlin, Germany or Europe, it doesn't say. Apparently you're supposed to guess. Good points...erm...lot's of place to find a music...erm...a very long bar? I was only in there twice in my life. I can't even remember why. Don't bother.


Blogger BiB said...

A German anglophile friend of mine, who was also my absolutely most reliable Saufkumpel in Berlin before he abandoned the Hauptstadt for the provinces, would occasionally insist on meeting at the Oscar Wilde. Somehow, it must have reminded him of England. (I think he had a hazy understanding of geography.) But I always found it a grim place. All that dark wood and atmospherelessness and the knowledge that nice lively places were within striking distance. But anyway... Mustn't grumble!

9:39 am  
Blogger P. said...

If I didn't want to watch the football, I'd never drink there. The Emerald Isle on the other hand I might even do it even if there wasn't a game on...

(If only for the Irish breakfasts...whcih are great, and which I forgot in the original post)

3:41 pm  
Blogger sattva said...

emerald isle is definitely a neighborhood fave but... they put beans on top of chips. and that i don't like.

12:07 pm  
Blogger P. said...

Hehe Sattva,

But surely you could ask them nicely to put the beans on one side?...

12:38 pm  
Anonymous Hostels Barcelona said...

Hi i think St Christophers is a very good one, not old fashion but it has style

10:01 am  

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