A new additon to the landscape in Blackrock Village with the arrival of JD Wetherspoon’s Three Tun Tavern – but does it merit all the hype?

Remember that wonderfully evocative ad from the mid 70’s (Ok, you probably don’t) that opened with the whitewashed pub interior, the ticking wall clock, the supine dog and then cut to the currach bringing the beer to the island? You do? This isn’t it. This isn’t it by as far a margin as is possible.

It was a Thursday night and we made our way past the security man and into the newly opened pub. Hold on. The security man? Is that the first person you really want to meet when you enter a pub? Does this really summon an image of your ‘local’? Thought not.

Lots of money has been spent on the decor with something for everyone. No real issue about that. A memory of the bicycle shop that occupied part of the site is retained in wall lights that are shaped like handlebars. The pub name is that of a former pub from just across the road and was selected from a list by local people, or so one of the managers told me. OK, I like that idea.

Three Tun Tavern sign in Blackrock
Handlebar light fixtures in Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock
First thing to note is that you have to go to the bar for everything. To get your drinks. To place your order for food. The food is brought to you, but the drinks you carry yourself. Maybe you like that? I am sure that it helps to keep prices down. So service is actually noticeable, in part, by its absence.

There is an impressive array of drinks but closer examination reveals some oddities. There is no non-alcoholic beer available. The house wines come on tap. The food list is enormous and seems good value, if not inspiring. There was a ‘Curry Evening’ in progress with dancing and music at a deafening level. This is one of a number of themed evenings. The owners, JD Wetherspoon, are a very large UK concern and the ambiance seems untailored to Ireland. I can imagine this model rolled out from Exeter to Aberdeen.

You will never know the bar staff because it is not that sort of place. It isn’t about that. It is about food and drink priced at a level to attract people to return frequently. The Three Tun carries a small number of English ‘real ales’,  the precursor to our ‘craft beers’. They are well worth a try and prices start at €3.75 for a pint. They stock Murphys and Beamish at €3.95, but not Guinness, which is, I think, something unique. Is that a plus?

Craft beers at Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock
The Three Tun Tavern in Balckrock
Maybe I missed them but the focus doesn’t appear to be on sport, with flat screen TVs in every corner, so that’s nice. So why my lack of enthusiasm for this version of a pub? I find it impersonal, lacking in service, and focused on processing people. It contrasts, for me, poorly with a benchmark pub, like Mulligans or Neary’s. But there might well be people who enjoy the themed evenings and the very difference that left me cold. And that’s no bad thing from a ‘something for everyone‘ point of view. It will be very interesting to see what pattern of trading becomes apparent after the initial curiosity ware off. A revisit will prove interesting. Watch this space.

The Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock has just opened this July

The Three Tun Tavern
1 – 5, Temple Road
Co. Dublin

Tel: 01 212 3644

Check in here on foursquare

Lead image © DUBLIN BUZZ; all other images courtesy The Three Tun Facebook page




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