Award-winning McGettigan’s has achieved the sort of loyal fan base usually associated with Dubai’s oldest bars, despite being open one year and, even more disadvantageously, being in JLT. Jumeirah Lake Towers, still very much a work in progress, doesn’t normally draw in crowds, but McGettigan’s has defied the odds and become a beacon to expats who are drawn across the Sheikh Zayed Road in search of Irish hospitality.
Visit more than twice and you can expect to be on first name terms with manager Michael, an Irish man who has spent most of his Irish life running Irish bars in Ireland. Now, you can’t get more Irish than that, sure you can’t.
The décor is part log cabin, part library, with light installations featuring floor-to-ceiling images of Irish countryside: bubbling brooks, quaint rocky bridges and lush greenery. Look closely enough (or spend long enough at the bar) and you might even spot a four-leaved clover.
Completing the eccentric scheme, the photo foliage is accented with framed and signed green rugby shirts hanging on the wood-panelled walls as a clue to venue’s most avid visitors. With Rugby Sevens looming at the time of going to press, Michael tells us that 70 patrons have already booked to have a ‘rugby breakfast’ at McGettigan’s before being coached over to the main event on the other side of Dubai. During the summer, the bar covered its garden with a temporary roof and got a special licence to open its doors ay 9am so rugby fans wouldn’t miss a game.
But we’re not here for rugby – we’re here for the grub. Decisions, decisions. Though the deep-fried black sesame and pepper calamari with harissa lime sauce was drawing our attention, we went for the other two seafood starters on the menu. The smoked salmon (Dhs56), complimented with an unusual (but successful) mix of roast beets, pea shoots and tartar sauce, came with two slabs of crusty loaf. The crab and prawn cocktail (Dhs70) – a tumbler of mixed lettuce, seafood and tangy dressy, decorated with a juicy big curl of langoustine – was served with two triangles of wholemeal bread. We were running of room by the time the mains came.
The fish and chips (Dhs68) are consistently and justifiably ranked among the best in Dubai, but the signatures are classic Irish stew (Dhs64) and boiled bacon, champ mash and mustard cream (Dhs68). The latter comprises two thick chops of bacon in creamy wholegrain mustard sauce and enough buttery chive-infused mash to sedate a horse. Quickly feeling full, we continued until we’d cleared our plates, powerless to resist. And then we had completely uncalled-for sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream (Dhs35).
This is not the place to come if you’re on a diet, but if you want comfort food in a comfortable setting, with a bit of craic served by our mate Michael, you know exactly where to come. And if you’re a rugby fan too? Happy days!
USP: Definitely the fish, chips and mushy peas. Oooh, we love ’em. McGettigan’s also has a lot of live music and comedy acts perform in its garden space while the restaurant maintains usual hours – East 17 are performing in December 2011.