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The Kilkenny ("Authentic Irish Pub")

The Kilkenny is located in Brentwood Mall in a gigantic building which used to be Billy MacIntyre's. Now, given that most actual pubs are pretty much the opposite of gigantic, this is a pretty good pub. It hides its gigantic-ness well, with lots of dark wood panelling, stained glass windows, different levels, twists and turns, big overstuffed chairs, out of the way corners, and fireplaces. In other words, when you look around you, you can really only see to the next two or three tables, so even though you know you're in this gigantic building it still feels cozy.

The Kilkenny is filled with kitschy old-world stuff -- books, airplanes, fishing reels, signs. Supposedly this gives it a more pub-like feel. I am of two minds about this. It really does give it a pub-like, been here for several decades sort of feel. Except that pubs aren't really like that. The only reason we could tell the Spanish Galleon had been there in Greenwich for so long was the stale beer smell that had permeated the hardwood and the slightly sticky surface on everything. But, some pubs are really like that. We stopped at a pub somewhere in Scotland that was full of poorly-maintained taxidermified oddities, like two-headed lambs and sharks (sharks are odd in the middle of the highlands, okay? Just go with me on this one). It had all sorts of stuff like bicycle parts and a gong so big I took it for a center-boss shield at first glance hanging on the walls. This other place I was in in Germany (not really a pub, but what the hey) had like musical instruments and bird cages and god knows what else hanging from the ceiling and when you sat down on the toilets they started to play Handel's Water Music. So I guess what I'm saying is, if you're going to have a pub filled with stuff, it has to be really, really over the top.

Strangely enough, though I am always in the Kilkenny, I have yet to have a pint there. There is a pretty good selection of beers, ciders, and spirits, as well as a number of mixed beer drinks. What I mean by a mixed beer drink is like, a Black and Tan, or Owen's new favorite, the Snakebite, which is half beer and half cider. I usually drink a big pint of grapefruit juice. Someday I intend to go down to the Kilkenny and stay there all afternoon drinking pint after pint. I think this is what would happen (far too often) if I was still going to the University of Calgary.

The food at the Kilkenny is pretty good, too, and not too expensive (about 7-12 dollars a plate). I think I would have to describe the cuisine as Nouveau Pub Food. We are talking about things like deep-fried tater tots, chips (fries) with curry sauce and cheese, and Yorkshire puddings with the roast beef inside. Really, all these things are good. I think the food there is really interesting, because it's tough to imagine how you could update Pub Food, but they do it successfully both from a conceptual and from a taste point of view. Last night I had an apple pie. She told me usually their apple pie is served with custard (yuck!) but I asked to have it with ice cream instead. This apple pie was in kind of an oval shape, with a crumble topping, and when I first cut into it I thought it had ketchup in the bottom because the cinnamon sauce was so dark. It was okay, but the pieces of apple were kind of small.

I really don't feel that any discussion of the Kilkenny would be complete without mention of the waitresses. They all wear these really short kilts, which is not very Irish at all, but which really adds to the atmosphere (?). Okay, so there's something to be said for a bunch of women running around in matching short kilts. But the problem is, they're just not surly enough, and there's probably so much turnover there that unless you were there every day you would probably never end up with a "regular" waitress.

Anyway, the Kilkenny is pretty okay as far as "Authentic Irish Pubs" (Plastic Paddy Bars) go, but it's not really authentic. There actually are, or were, much more authentic pubs in Calgary. The Unicorn used to be really good. The Friar's Pub used to be really good. But on the other hand, Kilkenny is close to my house, it's easy to park there, and they actually feature Celtic music instead of Top 40 cover bands or karaoke.

Score: Four Pints Four and a half Pints

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