Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Somewhere New

I ventured into a new pub last night, well new for me at least. McGrady's, as the name kind of suggests, is an "Irish" pub here in Charlottesville, and for some reason that escapes me I had never darkened its door until last night. Tuesdays at McGrady's is trivia night and I love a pub quiz, though, as the friend I was with discovered, the term "quiz night" seems not to be the common parlance in these here parts.

I think the main reason I had never crossed the threshold is that my experience of ethnopubs is decidedly something of a curate's egg. Most have been awful, but some have been good. There's just something grating about the way many of them range from twee to patronising, with a detour into aggressively nationalistic though getting some key elements wrong. McGrady's though just felt like a rough round the edges pub with green walls, an Irish flag and comedy "Himself" and "Herself" toilet door signs.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised, they had a decent selection of beer, though from a purely aesthetic point of view I am not a fan of a wall of tap handles at the back of the bar. I counted 4 beers on tap from our local breweries, a couple from Devils Backbone and one each from Starr Hill and Blue Mountain, which is really good to see.

I have probably said this countless times, but staff make a huge difference to a pub. Would PK have been the same without Klara for example? The staff at McGrady's were pretty good based on this single visit so far, our "server" (a term I really don't like much) was efficient, unobtrusive and generally on top of things. One of the things guaranteed to really annoy me is having a waitress come by every couple of minutes asking if everything is fine or if I need anything, and last night they seemed to get it right, often enough so you don't feel forgotten, infrequent enough that you don't feel like you are being schmoozed for a tip. While I am thinking about it, worse still is when the shift manager is under orders to stop at every table to make everything is OK, there is a fine line between customer service and obsequiousness which is crossed more often than not.

We didn't win anything in the trivia, not really having had to know much about the history of Mardi Gras as a child. It's interesting just how different growing up in Britain is to growing up in the US despite our shared language, a constant source of bemused looks in the Velkyal household is talking about TV shows from our respective youth. I am fairly sure I'll be back at McGrady's fairly regularly as it seems to be my kind of place, and it has a pool table, again always a good thing - thankfully though there is enough room to wield a cue, unlike a bar in Portree I used to go to from time to time.

* A quick reminder for those doing the International Homebrew Project, this weekend is the brewday and I will be tweeting about it with the hashtag #BrewdayIHP.

** the picture is not mine, it is from McGrady's website.

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