An Irish bar for Serious Drinkers
Written and photos by Leif Hansen
Translated by Ann Lee
1, Civic Blvd, Sec 5, 1F (intersection with GuangFu S Rd); (02) 2748-6407
Hours: 8 pm-4 am (
open to 6 am weekends)
Credit cards accepted.
No service charge (including meals).
A Taiwan veteran of 13 years, Niall Clinton is no stranger to owning and managing popular, rollicking pubs in Taipei. During his time on this island, the entrepreneurial Irishman has helped hold the reins of The Spaceman, On Tap, and Center Stage, which have all become legends of sorts for many in the expatriate community.
His newest project is Hell's Kitchen, a clean, cozy establishment just seven months old, about a five-minute walk north of Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, on the northeast corner of Civic Boulevard and GuangFu Road. Its name does not originate from the TV cooking show, as assumed by some customers, but rather from the well-known New York district where, historically, many hard-drinking Irish settled themselves in.
Niall and co-owners Paul and Xiao Loer have taken pains to give their new venture a relaxing, softer ambiance, with candle-lit tables, antique table lamps and the music turned down to a level where conversation is possible. However, that's usually before things get busy! Hell's Kitchen's high ceiling, variety of wall decorations, and flat-screen bar TV for watching sports is overall an ideal location for noise control. Its inside is quiet and the outside seating area gets no complaints from the neighbors about rowdy patrons.
The food menu includes toasted sandwiches, made however you like them (2 for NT$180) and smoked sausages and fried veggies for NT$100. I had the chance to taste the Red-Wine Beef Stew (NT$200), which included potatoes, mushrooms, onions, carrots and a side order of bread. The beef was very tender and the meal thoroughly succulent. The creamy Chicken Stew (NT$170), made with similar ingredients, was equally delicious and a tad bit spicy! Vegetable Curry Stew (NT$150) is also available. Although there's only one chef, the turnaround time on orders was extremely quick.
There is a wide variety of excellent beer that makes this a respectable drinking establishment. Besides bottles of Heineken and Corona (NT$150), there is Newcastle, Erdinger and Boddington, plus top-notch imports like Hoegaarden, Strongbow, Abbot Ale and Grolsch (all NT$170-180). San Francisco Liberty Ale (NT$190) is a new arrival and Konig Ludwig Weiss Beer (NT$230) is yet another exceptional option.
Stella Artois and Taiwan Gold are on tap (NT$150-200) but, of course, the Irish maiden here is a dark, fresh pint of cold draft Guinness (NT$220). Thankfully, Happy Hour (8-10 p.m. daily) has no concern for maintaining our sobriety, and offers bottles of Corona and Heineken and Taiwan Gold draft on a buy-1-get-1-free basis. This also extends to basic mixed drinks like Gin & Tonic, Rum & Coke, etc. Shooters like the Springbok, B-52 and Jager Bomb are NT$150 to NT$200, while cocktails are between NT$220 and NT$250 and run from Sex on the Beach and Mojitos to Hurricanes and Mai Tais--whatever your vice is that night.