I was busy doing Important Work Stuff in London last week (only time for one half-pint of cask, alas, but at least it was a lovely Sussex Best), but we’re back at it with Weirdo Dublin Pubs this week.
It would be hard to think of a pub with a more lived-in, traditional interior than The King’s Inn, but in fact, the current owners only took it over and refurbished it in 2018 – and after it had been shut for 3 years. The same team behind The Flowing Tide (more recently spruced up and discussed here) worked their magic here first, and their attention to detail shows. The prints and pictures around the pub are all genuine nods to the immediate neighbourhood – 18th century Henrietta Street and the enormous King’s Inns (plural, though the pub is singular) complex of roughly the same vintage, still a key site of the country’s legal training, so law-related themes are very much on view inside the pub. And it does come by the age posted outside honestly – although it was originally built as a residence, it has been a licensed pub since at least the 1860s, if not before, so the ‘since 1842’ signage is certainly more accurate than many with a date advertised outside.
While there is a peculiarly ersatz suit of armour, the overall feeling is still much more genuine; you don’t feel you’ve been transported into an Oirish Pub, with its random assortment of road signs in Irish and black-and-white images of stone walls, or, possibly even more worthy of hand-wringing, a Wetherspoons with all its LOOK AT OUR LOCAL CULTURE posturing (though to be fair, the ‘Spoons would at least have cask).
Lack of cask ale notwithstanding, and that’s hardly unusual here, there is nothing to complain about with the beer here: traditional though it may feel, with plenty of well-poured Guinness, there are also taps for the likes of Trouble, Kinnegar and The White Hag – indeed, similar to the lineup in their sister pub nearer the river. Unfortunately, on my most recent visit they had run out of toasties – the only reason my smaller companion for the afternoon had agreed to leave the house – and so we had to move on elsewhere, but as there is so much in the immediate vicinity, it was easily managed. Ironically, the very next day I listened to the Publin episode about toasties, so there must have been something in the air.
Although it is generally handy for me as it’s a relatively short walk, it’s also extremely useful for anyone visiting the excellent 14 Henrietta Street museum, a must-do for anyone touring Dublin who wants to find out more about the Georgian architecture all around, and how this area’s fortunes changed over time – there are few better social history museums anywhere, and given how difficult Dublin likes to make it to look after its built heritage, the entire street, anchored by The King’s Inn is an example of how it can be done well.
Hopefully, next time I head over, the toasties will be back.
Where: The King’s Inn, 42 Bolton St, Dublin, D01 EH56
Access from the city centre: Buses 1, 11, 13, 40, 46A, 122, Luas Green Line, 20ish minute walk
Food: Toasties, crisps
Sport: ‘All the big sports’ per their Instagram, but certainly plenty of GAA
TVs: For the sport
Music: Gentle indie tunes on my last visit, but turned down for the sport
Family-friendliness: No one seemed to mind my smaller food & drink partner of a Sunday afternoon, but it could easily be too crowded for the younger set at peak times
Pub-crawl-ability: High – Underdog, The Black Sheep, Bonobo, Bar 1661, The Church, Slattery’s…you could easily carry on to L. Mulligan, Grocer and/or Fidelity…
Local sites of note: 14 Henrietta Street, King’s Inns, The Hungry Tree, Smithfield
Haunted: Given the history of the local area, the entire street must be haunted
Other notes: Lovely fireplace in the back for chilly and damp weather, very dog-friendly