For proper pub grub, you can’t go wrong with this Dublin boozer, complete with great atmosphere, excellent staff and classic décor
I mean, how could you not fancy a bowl of Irish stew or an artisan burger and spicy fries while watching Sky Sports on a wet Thursday in November.
For most people it’s the very definition of relaxing and unwinding. Of course it’s not a unanimously admired change of direction – some die-hards are infuriated by all this disappearing of the old ways.
“What’s wrong,” they ask. “With a quiet pint and a packet of salty peanuts without TV’s blaring in the background?” And I have to admit, I do sometimes feel a certain camaraderie with their grumblings.
In truth though, the onslaught of the pub-grub-scene has pretty much been the saviour of pubs, a lot of which were knackered beyond any hope of survival.
But what about that grand old-fashioned pub setting. Is there anywhere left genuinely covering all the angles?
The Old Stand does exactly that, as well as literally throbbing with history, it’s the nearest in essence to a proper old school Dublin boozer. I mean, as soon as you walk into the place, it looks like a pub, feels like a pub, and not just a fancy re-engineered restaurant disguised as a pub. All that’s missing is a dart board.
Here you can have a pint, a quiet chat, watch a match, or best of all enjoy some decent grub. And sure why wouldn’t they have decent grub here, haven’t they been at it for over 300 years.
It is actually a wet Thursday afternoon when I get there. There’s maybe nine/ten patrons sitting around, eating drinking and dissecting the latest rugby results. I just love this vibe.
Suitably becalmed I order a pint and peruse an uncomplicated menu before committing.
I eventually decide on the smoked salmon starter. A plate arrives laden with plump slices of salmon, some pickled red onion for balance, a splodge of fresh dill dream and a few thick wedges of brown soda bread.
It is delicious, surprisingly reminds me of Christmas, and without sacrificing quality or flavour, there’s enough here for two – which I hoover up anyway.
For main course I go for bangers and mash, the unpretentious stalwart of gastro-pubs everywhere. When done right, always a winner – done wrong, forget it.
There’s a mound of creamy lump-free mash, a puddle of onion gravy, and five big meaty pork sausages.
Does it look good? No way. It laughs in the face of the tweezered and prettily-presented. Taste-wise though, it’s a star – especially with a pint of your favourite. Whether half-starved or mightily hungover, all sane carnivores would devour grub like this.
The Old Stand is Dublin pub of the year 2022, and fully deserves the accolade. Great atmosphere, excellent staff, and benchmark décor.
It is what it always was, a pub frequented by chatty drinkers who like a particular kind of food: big flavoured, rustic, with no fancy messing around. In other words, simple cookery using great ingredients. All fine by me.
The Old Stand 37 Exchequer St, Dublin 2 Four star FOOD €29 DRINKS €6.70