Dublin – The Brazen Head

I’ve never been to this Dublin pub before in my past visits to the city, which the owners claim is the oldest in the country. The claims that it has been a pub since 1198 are quite fanciful, but these have at least definitely been licensed premises since the mid-seventeenth century. There’s more information about the pub and its history on Wikipedia, which is probably as good an introductory resource as any other on this matter.

The pub is very well reviewed on-line and so Liam and I decided to go there after our little visit to the Guinness Storehouse, as even if the oldest pub claim is questionable, there’s still plenty of heritage here.

There are lots of banknotes attached to the pillars and ceiling, mostly American, and I can see why this atmosphere appeals to those from the United States (not least because it appeals to me).

Slightly dark, cluttered and packed with atmosphere, even on a Friday afternoon. Nice, there was no shortage of traditional Irish pub feel here, suitable for locals and visitors. It was also a sizeable pub, so although it was busy internally and externally, it’s worth turning up to try and get a table. The pub doesn’t take bookings for group sizes of under four, so we did as they suggested and just turned up. We were taken to a seat in front of the bar by a friendly man at the main door (who was a staff member, I realise that might sound like a random person just pointed us towards a table), it was suitable for our needs and I liked that I could easily see the options at the bar. We didn’t have to wait outside at all, although there was a queue by the time that we were leaving.

We had looked at the menu on-line in advance (which was very efficient of us), so we were ready with our orders. The staff in the pub were friendly and engaging throughout, it was a welcome and comfortable environment.

The pub had some beers by Rye River Brewing and although the beer list we were given didn’t mention a stout from this brewery, I asked about it as I could see it on the bar. The staff member checked for me and they did indeed have this Eventide Irish Stout, which was new on in the pub and seems also to be something recent for the brewery itself as I was only the ninth person to add it on Untappd. It was a decent beer, a little creamier than Guinness, although that was available as well for the customers who wanted it.

I went for the fish and chips, with that smear of peas looking slightly odd perhaps. However, looks are deceptive, they were some of the best tasting peas that I’ve had, with the chips being rather delicious, firm on the exterior and fluffy inside. The fish had a rich tasting batter and the fish itself was appropriately cooked and the tartare sauce was I think homemade. I should probably dwell on those peas though, my food knowledge isn’t good enough to know what they’ve done to make them so moreish…..

Liam’s sausage and mash, which he said was also really rather lovely. The cuisine here is certainly above average and there were no shortage of other customers ordering food, with everything brought out promptly.

I’m not normally a dessert person, but we felt that we deserved a little treat and so we had a Baileys cheesecake each, served with compote and ice cream. The pub only serves two different desserts and they were both tempting options, with the other being a chocolate fudge cake.

I looked through the reviews, which are some of the best for any pub in the city, and I liked the:

“Complained and mentioned that we were not tourists and stressed that the chef must be informed”.

I’m not sure that the chef was informed…. I mention this as I thought it was evident during our visit that tourists and locals were treated the same way. Although another review was posted which said “The staff is rude….they hate Americans” which seems unlikely to be true….

“After a long day on excursions, we came across this pub. The place was packed!!!!! We tried to go in and wait for a table (which you do by yourself, with no help from a host or anything…)”

This 1/5 review was posted by an American in early March 2020, just before the crisis started to unfold. It’s interesting as there is compulsory table service in Dublin at the moment, which makes things much easier at busy pubs such as this for the reason that this reviewer alluded to. I rather hope that some form of helping customers to find a table is maintained to some degree in the future across the hospitality industry. Another review said:

“We were shocked that after singing together some Irish and Scottish folk songs, one of our party when going to bar again was told none of our party were getting served again. It seems sing-songs are not liked or permitted in this bar”.

Good, I like the pub even more now. Otherwise, reviews are pretty standard, but there are a few claiming that the staff were hateful that I somewhat suspect was the Irish humour that has been misinterpreted by the individual….

The prices weren’t the cheapest, but this was an excellent visit and met our expectations. I liked the environment, the service and the food and drink, with the historical atmosphere adding positively to the whole arrangement. I’d definitely go back again, although I imagine that this pub can often get very busy, and we were suitably pleased with our choice.