Last Thursday was our 27th wedding anniversary. After that many years we’ve earned the right to do exactly whatever we’d like so…my choice was to be as comfy as possible (aka blue jean casual) and go to a pub.
Sounds so normal eh? So pedestrian, so…un-special.
Going to the Irish Harp in Niagara On The Lake was an outing that Dave and I often enjoyed, often with our friends Dave and Barb who came to sample the vineyards in Niagara for their anniversary. Good pub food and good Irish beer and if you’re lucky, live music. We’re really missing live music here.
So I heard about a pub here called …the Irish Harp and it was a slam dunk for the mood I was in. It’s in the basement of the Sheridan Hotel along with another restaurant called Latino (which is south american food) and it was a little tricky to get into.
We showed up at the door which had a very large man standing guard and a sign over the door that said “Guests of the hotel and Members Only.” So we enquired and were told that we needed to go around the corner to the administration desk and become members. Ok…
Beside the administration desk there is a sign saying that membership costs 50 QR/women and 60 QR/men. So, 110 QR’s to become members (that’s $30 CAD). Something about the sign made us think that this might include all the “bars” in Qatar – it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they would govern this way. But no, in fact this did not even include the other restaurants in the hotel. We were hoping to go to the top floor restaurant for dessert. Apparently we’d have needed a membership for that one as well. “But Mum, you won’t have to pay again, only one time.” Small consolation. I’d looked up the menu online already and I knew we were going to pay a pretty steep price for pub grub so I also knew that we were not likely to return regularly. The only way I was justifying it in the first place was that it was our anniversary. Also, the sign said “No Qatari Women Allowed.” Gulp. That offends me on several levels.
So we decided against this option. The girl at the desk informed us that the Latino didn’t require a membership and so we headed there.
As we were walking past the Harp the big bouncer dude he called out to us “How did it go? Did you get a membership?” I said “No we decided against it because we’ll likely only come here once so it’s not worth the membership fee.” He jerked his head toward the door and said “Go ahead…go in.”
Perplexed…we headed in.
We were pleasantly surprised that there was a music duo playing and they were actually quite good. Yay.
We had classic fish and chips and a burger and fries (and split them in half like any good been-married-forever couple would do). It was good food. Good burgers are not easy to come by here. Topped off with a Guiness and a Kilkenny and we got everything we came for, albeit overpriced.
Odd crowd I have to say. All expats (do not, in your mind make that all white, because that is not the case at all) most middle aged men, executive (almost geeky) types. There were roughly 200 men to about 15 women. Strange feeling. And it was a throw back because smoking indoors is permitted. Remember those days?
I would wager a bet that there are very few Qatari women (if any) who would have wanted to be in there, but we all know that’s not the point.
So many things here start to feel like everyday regular life and then we bump into a night like this that reminds us – oh ya, they do things differently here. Very differently. We are not in Kansas anymore Toto.