The grid of streets surrounding Westmoreland have curiously been somewhat overlooked (if not neglected) in the last number of years. As the city centre continues to embrace the new-look of its drinking culture, this particularly locality has been lagging behind.
Sure, this being Dublin, there is still a selection of watering holes sprinkled throughout the streets. But most of these establishments fall fairly comfortably into two camps; somewhat foreboding early houses or glorified carveries. In essence; the district, if that is indeed the best way to characterise the web of streets emanating from Trinity’s arse end, has yet to be blessed with an establishment serving as an emissary of the capital’s artisanally-focussed, mixologically-driven rebrand/identity crisis.
A state of affairs made all the more unusual considering the co-working spaces and coffee shops that have just begun to sprung up in the vicinity.
Enter: Ruin Bar.
Brainchild of the same stable that brought us Camden Exchange, Ruin draws both its inspiration and moniker from the “Ruin Bars” of Budapest. The hallmark of these establishments which dot the former seat of Austro-Hungarian power being that, in their truest form, they are situated in re-purposed spaces.
Find a disused cement factory, pop in a bar and some mismatched seating and hey presto! You have yourself an authentic Hungarian Ruin Bar.
As my companion and I cross the threshold of Tara Street’s own Ruin, the establishment does little by way of evoking the organically cultivated nightlife synonymous with The Pearl of the Danube.
The decor and ambience are, above all else, products of the ‘Here’ and the ‘Now’. The space itself is pleasant and welcoming, erring on the more upmarket end of the shabby-chic aesthetic.
A not quite horseshoe bar, populated with a respectable selection of craft beers (Sierra Nevada/Punk IPA – €6.70), stretches out down the centre of the room. The booths lining the walls are populated with families and fresh faced young couples digging into sharing platters of tacos and burgers – a scene previously uncommon for this end of town.
A crowd of broad-backed gents in polo shirts, potential holdovers from the establishment’s previous life as a “Pub” as opposed to “Bar”, have congregated around a deployable big screen showing Manchester United’s debut match of the season – some things never change.
Like the shell of a cathedral that can be readily placed in time due to its architectural flourishes – This Ruin, with its kimchi heavy menu and post-Bansky, quasi-political wall daubings, plainly situates itself, for better or worse, within the contemporary cultural epoch.
Contempt needn’t spring from this familiarity though. The aesthetic bent and somewhat homogenized ambience favoured by the management is informed by the established desires of the modern populace.
By that barometer, it’s hard to characterise Ruin Bar as anything other than a success.
Words: Danny Wilson
Photo: Killian Broderick
33 Tara Street
01 499 0509