Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Kitty O'Hanlon's

After the empty experience that an hour or so in The Hogshead was it was something of a relief to leave and go to Kitty's. A proper bar and a real pub with proper pub-goers in it. It's also surprisingly big and benefits somewhat from being in a key location with regards to Plymouth's Nightlife. Kitty's sits just between the City Centre and The Barbican and as such doesn't really belong to either whilst, conversely, belonging to both. It's quite nicely tucked away in a corner, too, immediately adjacent to Plymouth's Magistrates' Court. Indeed I suspect that the clientèle from the court might provide some of Kitty's custom. I have no reason to denigrate the pub, or the people who use it, but their is a rougish quality to the place and the other pub that I have covered so far that is the most similar is Mutley's The Fortescue. I don't mean any of this in a bad way. Quite the opposite.

The first thing that strikes you on arrival at the pub is the Celtic lettering style on the boards outside. One of the boards proclaims Kitty's to be "Home Of The Slippery Nipple" and to be honest I'm not sure that's a claim that many could make (or perhaps even want to). Anyway somewhat intrigued and with the interests of this article at heart it was with some trepidation that I headed to Google (the last time I felt like this I was looking up "Hungarian showboating" and was wishing that I had not...) to find out more about this Slippery Nippple. It was no little relief when I discovered this:

Slippery Nipple

Ingredients:25ml sambuca, 25ml Baileys Irish Cream

Method: Pour Sambucca into double shot glass. Layer on baileys perfectly.

It actually sounds quite nice. I must try one one day.

So by the time that you enter you have a pretty good idea of what you are about to encounter inside. You'd be right to. It is an Irish pub like so many others scattered around the World. The differences between this one and O'Neill's in Malaga, or anywhere else for that matter, are small. The decor is similar and there is all manner of Irish signage and memorabilia about the gaff; plenty of Irish bar staff to serve you; there is an abundance of Poguery on the jukebox; a decent pint of Guinness and a menu which offers simple but tasty food. I don't expect much else from a pub to be honest.

It was not busy when we were there and I had a nice little chat with the landlord who was friendliness personified. I asked him the usual questions ("do you mind if I take a few pics?" and "can I photograph you?" amongst them in case you have been wondering) and he thought that what I am doing was a brilliant idea and twigged immediately that it was basically a good excuse to visit as many pubs as possible which can rarely be thought of as a bad thing by any sane-minded person. In fact after The Hogshead this was a blessed relief and I wish we had spent rather more time there and rather less at The Hogshead.

Those of you who have been following these reviews will realise that I wander off-topic on occasion but that I also try to provide a service which includes all of the important facts needed about pre-match drinking and to be honest Kitty's scores heavily in every way apart from proximity to Home Park ~ and even then there is a bus that'll get you there from the top of Royal Parade which couldn't be much more nearby (it'd go past the VOT too if you fancied getting off for a break halfway!!) or you could get the Argyle Shuttle. It wasn't too busy to get served and it was friendly. We had a couple of kids with us and they were welcome too. Now I'm not sure as to the legal position here but the kids have not been turned away from any pub yet (mind you they have not been at every pub so far) but I know that kids have been turned away in the past from this pub and I don't know if pub policy or actual law has changed. Back to the plus points of the pub there was Argyliana (of a sort ~ see above) on the wall and the pub does have a proper pub sign. These are small but significant things. A reassuring touch of consistency amidst the chaos that engulfs us all on a daily basis.

I would date the pubs as of similar origin to The Fortescue which I guess places it at the turn of the last century. It actually book ends a rather interesting little arcade of shops and businesses. One which may actually have fairly significant implications for this blog inasmuch as the distinctions that define pubs, bars and restaurants are very blurred these days. Just up the road there is The Funky Judge and a bit further the Café Rouge. They all serve, food, beer, wine and coffee. Kitty's is most definitely a pub. Café Rouge a restaurant/cafe. Just what is the Funky Judge?

Going back to the history of the pub it was once called The Abbey Inn so I guess there must have been an Abbey in the area at some stage. The hall attached to St Andrew's Church is known as Abbey Hall, too.

There are some interesting places nearby. Some of Plymouth's oldest buildings are a stone's throw away. There is even a TV celebrity chef cooking a short walk away in Plymouth's oldest building at Tanners if you fancy some posh nosh. Chris Tanner is often on Ready Steady Cook so he must be one of the country's top chef's. The first Michelin star can't be far away!!

Just a couple of other things to note which continues to build on themes already explored in part on other entries to my blog. The first is Kitty's place as a Live Venue for music. I have never actually seen anybody there but when we were there there were posters advertising a forthcoming gig so I guess they have regular music there which again is a good thing. One thing that they have done on more than one occasion is use the steps of the Magistrates' Court as an outdoor gig venue!! Now this must be legit (?) and it's an astonishingly good idea and Mad Dog McRea have performed there one more than one occasion.

As long as I can remember next door to Kitty's there was a trendy hairdresser's next door called March Hair (how do they think up the names?). I even saw Mickey Evans coming out of there once. Mind you the possibility that he used to get his hair cut there is a bit hard to accept. Still stranger things have happened, I suppose. One of those things is the closing of March Hair!! I was shocked at the time. It had been there forever. A mate of mine called Grebo (honest ~ Mark Greaves, was his name) got his hair cut there in the early 80s because he had grown it very long and had heard that you got lots of loot for selling it. So he did just that. I wish I could remember how much money he got. Anyhow the closure of this business after having already encountered several closed shops and pubs on my trip through the City Centre seemed like another nail in the coffin of City commerce. Not so, however, and in this case March Hair has relocated, so I am told, their old premises have been titivated and in it's stead stands a new trendy boutique-style hairdressers. I wonder if they will last as long?

So is that it for Kitty's? I guess so. We were there in early May and the blossom was on the trees nearby even if the rain was softly falling (if you are a true Janner a little soft rain won't put you off anything ~ if it did you'd never go anywhere or do anything!!


At 6:21 am, Anonymous FTP1690 said...

Grammatical errors aside, nice piece.

However, the pub hasn't been the same since its original owners sold it to Eldridge Pope in 1999.


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