Updated: Jul 10, 2018
This is what I heard a few weeks ago at a dinner party, which made me think: Is it true? ‘Is every time I go abroad all the pubs are Irish?’
As a French who lived in Paris the first 20 years of my life I can tell you it's not a rule there. I remember going to Rue Princesse as a student and go to this pub called "The Frog and Rosbif" (you saw it right) and the concept was pretty much the same as a regular English pub, except the lack of serious cosiness. High stools were the kind of seating you had, with big jugs of beers served by British staff. Everything there was here to remind you of our beloved Queen's country, the smell of beer included.
And then I thought, is it only in France that we understand the difference of a British pub vs. an Irish pub?
Back in 2014, I travelled to New York, and I found it fun to go back to one of my favourite Gastropub in the world ‘The Spotted Pig’. Maybe because of the look (the outside is all floral at Spring/Summer, and the inside is packed with lovely quirky items). Inside, you have beer on tap (good selection of lagers) but when it comes to the food, as delicious as it can be, it doesn't quite feel like a regular Sunday Roast. The rosemary shoe string fries may be to die for, but they are nothing near a bowl of chunky chips.
It made me come to the conclusion: even if this pub is not a British one, it is definitely not a cliché Irish pub with loud Celtic music.
So I started to think, why on Earth did I believe this cliché?
In late 2015 I visited Kyoto and even if I felt guilty to remove myself from traditional Japan, I still quite loved checking out the "Pig & Whistle" (why all the pubs abroad have to have a pig in their name I’m not sure, I know you guys love bacon, but still...). As many Japanese bars, you have to enter a building and find it hidden on another floor. Once you are actually inside everything about it feels quite British. At the time we enter, the TV is showing a 6 nations game and at the back of the room some locals play darts. To add on the smell I drop my pint on the floor. The very friendly English speaking waiter pours me another one and says not to worry. The interior is a little bit of a mix of Japanese & English architecture, with the wood beamed roof and countryside chequered carpet (after all why not?). It may not be the Cotswolds but to distract you from all the tourists fumbling with their chopsticks in Kyoto, this pub is a perfect break.
So I'm sorry to say - no, all the pubs abroad aren't just "Irish" and even if not a single pub outside England feels quite as cosy as one of those with a fireplace in the winter and a good beer garden for the sunny days, they are definitely still worth a look when homesick!