“Is this the place that we had a pint in when we were deciding if we would move into Clanbrassil Street?” I ask my ex-housemate. “Nah,” he responds, gesturing across the junction, “that was Leonard’s Corner. This is the one that used to smell like puke after the smoking ban came in.”
Needless to say, the former Headline Bar, rebranded smoothly as 57 The Headline, no longer smells of puke. Far from it, the bar is now clean, warm and welcoming, a haven on a busy street that struggles to deal with the volume of traffic it now has to manage (having been converted into a dual carriageway by successive ill-conceived road-widening projects) and that previously housed a selection of pubs that were frankly uninviting to the non-local. At one stage, we turn to the door expecting another friend to join us, only for a man, heavily tattooed about the face, to march in and proceed to skulk confusedly around the now unfamiliar surrounds, seemingly unsure quite of how to react to the overt pleasantness of the place.
Despite embracing wholeheartedly the craft beer trend (in the sense that it’s this pub’s thing) the Headline has kept a cosy, traditional feel rather than jettisoning entirely its old identity in favour of hard lines or a chic minimalism which would have felt desperately try-hard and out-of-place in this part of the city. Stepping in from a dark evening of vague anxiety brought on by the sheer hubbub of Christmas shoppers and the lack of daylight, the bar was calm and cheerful after work, bubbling up to a nice din of guffaws by the time we made our exit, all the while bereft of televisual interference or Champions League anthems. Despite its length, the menu is smartly laid out and easy to follow, and though we stuck to the predominantly to the O’Hara’s on tap (red, delicious) the array of fancier Belgian offerings (your Duvels and such) were tempting others striking up beer-chat with the lone, friendly barkeep.
In craft beer bars, obsequious expertise is now de rigeur, but the Headline has managed well the balance between the ostentatious array of taps and bottles and its everyman style, to the extent that I found myself more than a bit disappointed that this hadn’t been an option for a local drop in the five years I spent just down the road.
57 The Headline
57 Clanbrassil Street Upper, Dublin 8
t: 01 5320279
Words: Ian Lamont / Photo: Evan Buggle