Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Two Weeks in Ireland

But where are all the Irish?

O'Loony's used to be such a great place... The best possible location overlooking the beach at Lahinch. It has been revamped to reflect the times- the 'pub' look, which I found so comfortable is gone. Fair enough; the Irish are updating themselves, and they have that right. But I used to be able to get a decent bowl of soup there, served to me by someone who at least acted like they cared...

This year, the interior is beige, bordering on puce (which is already enough to induce vomiting, really) and the staff aloof. I'm not sure if the waiter didn't speak any English or just thought he was too cool to waste words. He never asked what we wanted- just stood there with his pad and pen, looking expectant. He never even asked if the food was ok. I'd have told him, if he'd asked... On the menu it said 'mushroom soup.' I suspect it was a mixture of mashed potato, sea water and a bit of ground turf for colour. I returned the bowl with most of the soup still in it, and he still didn't ask...
Farther north, in Ballyvaughan at the famous Monks Pub, the food was considerably better. The staff was mostly American. This is a good way for Americans to see Europe at the moment, the dollar being what it is. I will therefore try to forgive the girls for not knowing that Stag is a cider, and for thinking I was asking for a glass of water when I asked if they had MiWadi. They were friendly and helpful, if not smiling.

Now. Back to Lahinch, to The Cornerstone. The Food here still ranks miles above what's left of O'Loony's. The problem was the ditsy blond Polish waitress. I made the mistake of asking for two pints of Stag again. She didn't bat an eyelash, and I thought 'yay, I'm finally going to get my Stag.' She brought us two pints of? Smithwicks! The woman running the bar was actually Irish, so I asked her what the deal was, as we had ordered Stag. She said 'oh, she (the polish girl) thought you said stout.' I guess that was the best she could come up with; we knew it was rubbish, she knew it was rubbish, we knew she knew an ale from a stout and she must have known we knew she knew it (still with me here?); but she was embarrassed and trying to train the worst waitress on the planet.

Then we tried to order food. The conversation went like this:
Us: How large is a portion of chips?
Her: Yes.
Us: No, how big?
Her: ... umm.... with sandwiches.
Us: No, how BIG? (indicating concept of 'size' with hands)
Her: Oh! (big smile) about five minutes!
I am not kidding here. We ordered a sandwich, and she asked 'how much. a portion?' And we thought sandwiches were counted in sandwiches. Shows what we know...
In the end, we ate the soup and sandwiches, drank the beer, and waited waited waited for the chips, the onion rings and the scone. Ten minutes and a chat with the manager later, we finally had the chips, the onion rings and the scones, she even threw in an extra basket of chips to make up for the delay, and the food was great. But she will have to ditch that waitress. A group of Germans came in as we left.
German guy, loud and clear, after some consultation with his pals: two Guinness and a coke please.
Her: (repeating) two Guinness and a coke. (writes on her notepad) Now, how many Guinness?
By the time we left the restaurant, we knew their order by heart, but she still didn't.

There were others; Spanish, Americans, more Poles, a German. Now, I have two things to say:
1) None of these foreigners, the Americans, the Spanish, the Polish seemed to be enjoying themselves at all.
2) If you want lunch in Lahinch, go to Kenny's Bar.

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