Barfly: MVP

Posted September 8, 2014 in Bar Reviews

DDF apr-may-24 – Desktop

Working in the independent dog-catching business has left Anton with an acute sensitivity for the animals, almost like a sixth sense. “I’ve learned something from every dog I’ve ever caught!” he often boasts, and it’s hard not to believe him. Dogs seem to be welcome in MVP, and wander in between the tables happily, but Anton wears a look of suspicion. “Do you reckon all these dogs’ owners are here with them?” he asks, pulling his phone from his pocket.

I assure him that the dogs are accounted for, though I have to confess I’m not altogether sure. There are four of them in here and only six people, including the barman. Placated, Anton now points disdainfully at the flyer left on our table for yoga classes, which take place in the room upstairs. “Keep calm and do yoga,” he reads aloud. “For fuck sake.”

MVP is a small, low-ceilinged, dog-friendly affair that, according to its own branding, prides itself not on an extensive range of craft beers and spirits but, simply, a great pint of Guinness. “A pub. No fuss.” says the website. Belabouring the point of one’s own straightforwardness tends to be a self-defeating exercise, and it’s hard not to feel that way here. Better not to say you do a great pint, and just do one. People are precious about this kind of stuff. Claiming greatness only attracts stricter scrutiny and, in all honesty, the pint is better across the road in the (much less affectedly straightforward) Harold House. Or you could save yourself the walk from the city centre and go to Fallon’s. Straight-up marketing braggadocio re: the quality of your Guinness is the sort of tactic that might go down well with that obsequious bougie set that crave being spoken down to in an all-caps sans serif imperative, but for those whose sensibilities are not entirely given over to the pathologically West British boarding school bondage act of contemporary branding, it requires some backing up.

In a city full of “straight-up, no frills” pubs that do a decent pint of Guinness, what makes MVP stand out? You can do yoga there and, if you like, bring your dog along with you. However if you, like most people, don’t want to do either, these two features may register as a bit of an annoyance, in an otherwise neutral space. With newly-opened pubs seeming to be increasingly incapable of conceptualising outside the realm of nostalgia, MVP’s insistent blandness makes you (against your better judgement) pine for the balls-to-the-wall bombast of Dawson Street’s hydra of yuppie haunts, where the monotony renders itself as a more visceral kind of existential dread.

Before we leave, we decide to stick our noses in upstairs. We’re greeted by a more pleasant space than the ground floor, with lots of windows through which the people doing yoga there can look out over the area they’re gentrifying. Right now they’re doing a sort of warm-up routine that looks like a cross between free dance and musical chairs. We quickly about face as someone calls: “Join us! … Oh, we’ve scared them off.” They all laugh.

Anton points out a chess set sitting above the bar as we grab our jackets. A pair of roaming shih-tzus sniff at our shoes. Putting his arm around me, he says, softly: “If you play chess in here pal, you’ve already lost.”



29 Upper Clanbrassil Street, Dublin 8

t: 085 239 8003



Words: Oisín Murphy-Hall / Photography: Evan Buggle


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