Smithfield. Dublin’s Shoreditch apparently. But I’m not buying it. Somehow it doesn’t compare well with the established London hipster haven. Sure they both have the design hotels, gourmet food shops, cafes and arthouse cinema, but for me, Smithfield doesn’t have ‘it’, that undefinable something I can’t quite put my finger on. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have it’s charms. One of which, is Frank Ryan’s pub on Queen Street.
It’s not the best known bar in this area, that honour would go to The Cobblestone, followed closely by The Dice Bar, but it’s unquestionably, the cosiest. This was the first thing that struck me as I strolled through the door. It felt like the country pubs I grew up with, as a denizen of the midlands. Frank himself serves in the pub. “Thanks a million” he says as I hand him my hard earned for a glass of ‘O Hara’s ‘Helles’. I find a comfy spot to sit and fire up my laptop on the free wifi, as Count Basie, Bowie, Robert Palmer and Massive Attack battle for supremacy on the sound system.
At the bottom of the pub, two Jason Statham lookalikes face off on the pool table. I brush past, just as one of them is taking a shot. Momentarily startled, he skews the cueball into the middle pocket. Silence descends and I get ready for a pool hall brawl. But nothing happens, just a laugh from both lads and a friendly slap on the back. “Nice one bud”. Sound as trouts. Still, maybe it’s time I brushed up on ‘The Rules’.