Goan Shack: The Pub Grub

Oh my — look what’s become of Waxy’s. For those of you not in the know, Waxy O’Connor’s is an Irish pub brand that stretches across the globe from London to Texas. In Dubai, the outlet was renowned as one of the emirate’s rowdiest, old-school, spit’n’ sawdust-style pubs, with a chaotic brunch and, in its heyday, a legion of regulars. Said heyday must have ended, because midway through last year Waxy’s closed for good. And this is what we now have instead. Goan Shack: The Pub Grub. Eh? We hate to be linguistic pedants, but we wouldn’t be journalists if we didn’t point out that the name makes no sense conceptually (Goa = Indian; ‘Pub grub’ = British colloquialism) or linguistically. And what’s with the colon? Did they think they were naming an action film? ‘Crisis at Midtown Café: Invasion of the Caesar Salad’? If they did, perhaps ‘The Bar is Back: Attack of the Bizarre Furnishings’ would have been the most fitting name. The venue looks as though someone on a sugar high was let loose on a flea-market shopping spree, lobbing their acquired booty at different corners of the bar at random. There are palm trees, a street light, a wall-mounted pay-style telephone, a fishing net, a gramophone and walls of vinyl records, plus more assorted junk than we can count — and that’s just the bar. Former Waxy’s regulars will be alarmed to learn that the larger half of the room has been taken up with a new fishing-themed dining area serving — get this — ‘GOAstal delights’. We can only think this dichotomy is what they were trying to get across with the weird name, but surely it must have occurred to someone that naming a Goan restaurant ‘Pub Grub’ was likely to leave lots of angry punters wondering why they’re more likely to be served a fish curry than a steak and kidney pie. A daily two-for-one happy hour from 6pm until 9pm makes the normally Dhs36 hops rather more appealing. When we visited early one weekend evening there were a few regulars being entertained by an Elton John DVD, but the manager promised things would pick up later when the pop/rock band come onstage, before declaring, ‘We serve the best Goan food in Dubai.’ Despite that flair of arrogance, we couldn’t help but be seduced by the sheer barminess of this place. While it’s unlikely to win any awards any time soon, it has a low-key charm and friendly air that make it one of the nicest places to drink on rowdy Bank Street. We just wish they’d thought a little harder about the name.

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