So, after witnessing the religious experience that was Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at IMMA some weeks ago (don’t pretend you didn’t want to be there). I repaired to The Thomas House with a group of old school mates (emphasis on old) and my current wife. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a good spot and a local for me. We enjoyed a couple of rounds and shot the shit before Kev (one of the owners) called time and kicked us out. It had been a good night, but apparently not quite good enough. More damage needed to be done. Having delivered the only one of the posse with any sense to her doorstep, we faced the grim reality of our ineluctable destination. Wordlessly, we knew where we going. We’ve all been here, or rather we’ve all been there. You know the place though you might not remember leaving, or indeed how you got there. You get there by lying to yourself. One for the road? Sure why not! We’ll be in and out in twenty minutes. She’s asleep now so what’s the difference? We were headed for The Czech Inn. The bar of last resort. The place where decision making and cognitive ability go to die.
If the XXXL security guys don’t sober you up as you approach this shangri-la of shitfaced-ness then you don’t deserve to get in and you’ve had too much. I’ve heard numerous apocryphal tales of brutal (and doubtless somewhat exaggerated) put-downs outside this place over the years and I’m not talking about hurt feelings. “Don’t even begin to imagine that you, or your crew, are hard enough” they say. “I’ve seen some hidings that I can’t unsee”. I guess drunkenness rarely equates to prowess and that the proof is always in the pounding. During an exhaustive but illuminating six-minute stint of research for this piece I came across a post from an aggrieved frenchman (his name was Rene) in which he railed at ‘bouncers who act like it’s Studio 54’. I have yet to see the new film on the subject but I’m quite sure that Andy Warhol was never nutted while attempting ingress. Nor was Bianca Jagger’s horse knocked out cold for answering back. Rene really didn’t care for the food either.
A couple of scenes are missing, but I can vouch that we had a couple more rounds of what I’m presuming was beer (if whiskey had been involved I probably wouldn’t have written this) and didn’t witness any bloodshed. I do recall noting, however, that snuff appears to be making a comeback in the city. At the next table over, a group of middle-aged men, (also free of their wives/whatevers,) are uniformly sniffly. There is a noticable sheen of snuff on the tabletop. I guess you never know what’s going to come back into fashion these days but more on this later. We closed this place too. Did we then collectively decide that enough was enough, what with it being a school night and with wives and childer to return to? Did we fuck. We then proceeded to a nearby (nameless) restaurant where the owner (a member of the crew) opened the place up and locked us in. I emerged some hours later a ghoul, with the blues right down to my shoes. Imagine my surprise then, when some days later my editor informed me that The Czech Inn had undergone a rebrand and a re-furb to become Lundy Foot’s, named for an eminent eighteenth century snuff trader from a family of note. I assured him that nothing had changed, I had just been there, surely they had just changed the name above the door. The snuff thing though, began to make more sense.
In the interest of fair play, and because I had no receipts from the previous bacchanal, I decided to return clear-headed and in the light of day. This would be a first – an initially sober experience of the shop formerly known as The Czech Inn, formerly known as Isolde’s Tower. As my visit coincided with an England World Cup match, I decided to bring Comic Book Guy, a man whose lack of social skills are offset by his deadly martial arts acumen. I needn’t have bothered. A couple of handfuls of tourists are eating dinner and a smattering of placid gents are enjoying the football on one of the myriad screens. There’s not a single England jersey about, and I have a pleasant conversation with the doorman about hayfever remedies. Turns out that the new iteration is no mere spit-and-shine makeover either. The ground floor has been completely reworked. What used to be the late night saloon has been completely reconfigured and it’s not an unpleasant place to be. Perched on some very comfortable bar stools, we sample an array of pours from one of the most expansive tap selections in town. Steigl, an Austrian brew is worth seeking out if that’s how you roll. They’ve spent some money on the fit-out too, although the windowless space probably lends itself more easily to the grim winter months between September and May. A restorative bowl of goulash washed down with a few shots of Raki will see you right. Even so, never again.
Words: Conor Stevens
Photo: Killian Broderick
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